Ecoboards.

Where to start…

A look at eco surfboard options.

Why ecoboards are important.

The conventional surfboard is made up of a Polyurethane foam core with fiberglass and Polyester resin skin. These toxic petroleum-based materials are created through the extraction of raw material, refinement, and manufacturing, all posting high CO2 emissions. Not to mention the non-recyclable waste left behind.

Problems caused by these CO2 emissions:

Sea level

Increase ocean temperature cause rising sea levels.

Acidification

Ocean acidification diminishing coral reefs to extinction in the near future. This posts a major threat to the ecosystem.

Stratification

Ocean stratification, reducing the necessary nutrients for phytoplankton causing an overall reduction in biologic productivity. Reducing the number of fish in the sea.

In surfing terms, permanent high tide, no coral for waves, you will also be surfing hungry. From surfing a wooden plank like the early Polynesians to ripping on a super light performance board, the eco options are available. It’s up to us to make the decision to save the oceans. A modern performance ecoboard is made from selected materials designed to reduce the CO2 footprint up to 30%.

What to consider.

It’s not always possible to know the true carbon footprint of a board but here are three points to keep in mind.

Bio is better.

Is general, bio or natural materials are less harmful to the environment, if locally sourced. 

Durability.

Replacing broken boards is not sustainable. New technologies result in ecoboards that are more durable without sacrificing performance.

Local

Opt for a board made locally from local materials. Shipping material around the globe adds to the carbon footprint of a board.

Certified.

“The first, independent 3rd party consumer-facing “eco-label” for boards, the ECOBOARD Project is focused on reducing  carbon footprints, increasing the use (and reuse) of renewable, recycled and up-cycled inputs, and reducing toxicity within the surfboard manufacturing process.” sustainablesurf.org

Level one

By using one Qualified Material (core or resin), a board will have a significant reduction in environmental footprint without affecting performance, durability, or quality.

Gold level

Gold Level rewards the top sustainable surfboards and surfboard producers – those with the greatest environmental impact reduction.

Materials.

  • Recycled EPS foam – Marko foam is the largest manufacturer of recycled surfboard foam.

  • Bio resin – Epoxy with up to 30% biocarbon content.

  • Flax fiber cloth – engineered reinforcement fabric made from the bast of the flaxseed plant.

  • Hemp fiber cloth – engineered reinforcement fabric made from the bast of the Hemp plant.

  • Cork – agglomerate cork made by fusing together small granules of cork.

  • Aerospace material – an advanced composite material used by Firewire.

  • Paulownia wood – the fastest growing hardwood tree in the world, native to South East Asia.

  • Balsa wood – a very lightweight wood

upcycled foam blank / wood stringer / bio resin or polyester resin

  • This is a great way to create your own eco-friendlier board by eliminating the use of a new foam blank.

  • Strip the skin from the old board, reshape and reglass.

  • Note, your upcycled board will be smaller than your original from sanding away the foam.

  • Try convincing your local shaper to make it for you.

recycled EPS blank / wood stringer / traditional epoxy resin

  • This is a common effort for any board shaper to use a more eco-friendly foam core.

  • Marko EPS foam (25% recycled content).

  • Traditional petroleum-based Epoxy resin.

  • Slightly more durable than PE/PU boards.

  • EPS foam has more buoyancy and flotation increasing paddling speed and maneuverability.

  • Stiffer than PE/PU.

standard EPS blank / wood stringer / bio epoxy resin

  • This is a common effort for any board shaper to use a more eco-friendly resin for the skin of a board.

  • Traditional petroleum-based EPS foam blank.

  • Entropy Super Sap is a popular bio-resin used.

  • Slightly more durable than PE/PU boards.

  • EPS foam has more buoyancy and flotation increasing paddling speed and maneuverability.

  • Stiffer than PE/PU.

recycled EPS blank / wood stringer / bio epoxy resin

  • This is a common effort for any board shaper to use a more eco-friendly foam core and skin for a board.

  • Marko EPS foam (25% recycled content)

  • Entropy Super Sap is a popular bio-resin used.

  • Slightly more durable than PE/PU boards.

  • EPS foam has more buoyancy and flotation increasing paddling speed and maneuverability.

  • Stiffer than PE/PU.

recycled EPS blank / carbon fiber stringer / bio epoxy resin

  • This is a more complex construction, still allowing a more eco-friendly foam core and skin for a board.

  • This construction allows an EPS/Epoxy board to have more flex.

  • The carbon fiber stringers were introduced to give the board more flex and ‘pop’ when turning or carving.

  • Epoxy is considered stiffer than Polyester, hence the use of carbon flex technology.

  • Marko stringerless EPS foam (25% recycled content)

  • EPS foam has more buoyancy and flotation increasing paddling speed and maneuverability.

  • Entropy Super Sap is a popular bio-resin used.

  • These boards are considered very lightweight and very responsive.

recycled EPS blank / wood stringer / Flax fiber cloth / bio epoxy resin

  • This is an effort for any board shaper to use a more eco-friendly foam core and skin for a board.

  • Flax is used as an alternative to glass fiber cloth for an even more eco-friendly skin.

  • Flax fiber cloth is an engineered reinforcement fabric made from the bast of the flaxseed plant.

  • Glass fibers, when inhaled, can cause damage to your lungs.

  • Marko EPS foam (25% recycled content)

  • EPS foam has more buoyancy and flotation increasing paddling speed and maneuverability.

  • Entropy Super Sap is a popular bio-resin used.

  • Although these boards are slightly heavier, they are great fun to surf and have a beautiful natural look.

  • Double the absorbtion of vibrations and durability to traditional PE/PU surfboards.

  • When Flax cloth is combined with recycled EPS foam and Bio resin it gives form to a considerably greener surfboard.

  • A leader in the industry is Notox, a gold level certified surfboard.

Firewire LFT (Linear Flex Technology)

  • This construction is for surfers who prefer a center stringer but would like to experience advanced composite materials.

  • LFT incorporates Firewire’s SPRINGER HD, a 0.75” (18 mm) wide aerospace composite.

  • The stringer runs full length down the centerline of the board.

  • The stringer is positioned slightly below the deck skin to prevent the ridging that traditional center stringers create over time.

  • Firewire recycled EPS foam core.

  • EPS foam has more buoyancy and flotation increasing paddling speed and maneuverability.

  • Although more durable than a traditional PU/PS board, the LFT is considered the least durable of Firewire constructions.

  • Designed to allow the creation of footwells on the deck.

  • Firewire boards are made in a controlled environment with manufacturing techniques that reduce waste.

  • The use of advanced aerospace materials found only in Firewire boards is what makes them unique.

  • Level one eco-board certification.

Firewire FST (Future Shapes Technology)

  • Unlike the LFT, the FST has no center stringer.

  • The strength and flex are made possible by parabolic rail construction, meaning the stringer is in the rails.

  • Balsa wood is used in the rails to create the perfect flex throughout the board.

  • What has made the FST so popular is the combination of balsa wood rails and aerospace composite deck skin to create an extremely durable board.

  • Firewire recycled EPS foam core.

  • EPS foam has more buoyancy and flotation increasing paddling speed and maneuverability.

  • Firewire boards are made in a controlled environment with manufacturing techniques that reduce waste.

  • The use of advanced aerospace materials found only in Firewire boards is what makes them unique.

  • Level one eco-board certification.

Firewire Helium

  • Lightest construction from Firewire using their lightest recycled EPS foam core.

  • Its weight makes for quick maneuverability while maintaining just enough weight to generate inertia down the line.

  • The strength and flex are made possible by parabolic rail construction, meaning the stringer is in the rails.

  • Paulownia and Balsa wood combined to create the perfect flex in the parabolic rail, also making the board very strong and resistant to rail dings.

  • For surfers who prefer the slight ‘give’ in the deck skin that creates gentle compression so many surfers like.

  • Uses best elements of FST and LFT.

  • Similar flex to the FST.

  • Firewire boards are made in a controlled environment with manufacturing techniques that reduce waste.

  • The use of advanced aerospace materials found only in Firewire boards is what makes them unique.

  • Level one eco-board certification.

Firewire Timbertek

  • Firewire recycled EPS foam core.

  • The Timertech is similar to the FST and Helium construction, having a parabolic rail.

  • The rails are made from sustainably-grown Paulownia wood.

  • The deck skin is also made from a layer of Paulownia wood.

  • Firewire recycled EPS foam core.

  • Entropy bio-resin hot coat yields an extremely lightweight, durable surfboard.

  • The wood outer skin results in a board with slightly less flex than the other constructions. Therefore this construction works best for very short or long boards that don’t require so much flex.

  • Firewire boards are made in a controlled environment with manufacturing techniques that reduce waste.

  • Gold level eco-board certification.

Balsa wood (chambered)

  • The foam core of a surfboard is the largest contributor to carbon emissions.

  • A hollow Balsa wood core can reduce CO2 emissions by more than 50%.

  • Chambered means that parts of the core are removed to reduce the overall weight of the board.

  • The raw Balsa wood is however rather soft and requires a fiberglass “hot coat” for durability.

  • Solid Balsa boards are fun boards and not meant for high-performance surfing.

hollow wood

  • The foam core of a surfboard is the largest contributor to carbon emissions.

  • A hollow wood surfboard can reduce CO2 emissions by more than 50%.

  • Hollow wood surfboards are a bit more complex to make compared to Balsa boards.

  • A series of profiles are cut out and build into a skeleton around which a thin layer of wood ply is laminated.

  • A fiberglass “hot coat” is given to make the board watertight.

  • These boards are slightly heavier than Balsa.

solid cork

  • These boards are shaped from solid cork blanks and requires no fibre glass laminating.

  • Equivilant to traditional soft top boards.

  • Great for beginners looking for a fun board to start on.

  • The raw Cork surface provides good grip so there is no nead for any wax on the deck.

  • Great resistance to dings.

There are many more creative, eco-friendly, board constructions out there. Some are using combinations of cork, wood, flax, and EPS on the same board.
Note: Try to purchase ecoboards from ecoboard certified shapers unless off coarse its a board made from natural materials like wood or cork.
Marko foam and Entropy resins are the most common materials used. If purchasing from an uncertified shaper, make sure they are actually using these materials or similar and not just greenwashing you to think they are. Also, encourage them to get certified, the future is green, so they will benefit.
A suggestion, get EPS/EPOXY certified ecoboards for high performance and wooden fun boards like a fish or longboard.

A suggestion, get EPS/EPOXY certified ecoboards for high performance and wooden fun boards like a fish or longboard.

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