Title

Sustainable Surfboards

Home Institution

Bowdoin College

Publication Date

Spring 2007

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and the Environment

Abstract

This study is an assessment of the current situation surrounding the creation, production and marketing of an environmentally friendly alternative to the modern polyurethane foam, fibreglass, and resin surfboard. The surfboard has evolved from the 100% recyclable, sustainable wooden board used by the Hawaiians into a toxic composite of polluting materials used by surfers around the globe. This study attempts to define the environmental impacts of the construction and usage of the common polyurethane foam, fibreglass and resin surfboard as the justification of the need for a sustainable alternative.

In order to assess the current situation regarding the creation, production and marketing of an environmentally friendly surfboard, surfers were surveyed and interviews were conducted with surfboard shapers and others involved in the surf industry. Those surveyed and interviewed were questioned on awareness of environmental issues, assessment of the market for an environmentally friendly alternative to the modern surfboard, and barriers and incentives to the creation, production and marketing of a sustainable surfboard.

The conclusions of the research indicate that there is only a generalized idea of the environmental effects of surfboard construction and although some surfers expressed an interest in a sustainable surfboard, this interest is not being articulated to the surf industry. As a result, despite some pockets of pro-active individuals and companies involved in the production of more eco-friendly alternative surfboards and materials, the surf industry as a whole is not currently involved in creating or producing a sustainable surfboard. Instead, the surfing community seems contented to accept the status quo. This report recommends a campaign that would promote awareness of the associated environmental impacts of surfboard construction as the necessary first step towards sustainability. What is needed to create an environmentally friendly alternative to the common surfboard is a collaborative effort involving surfers, shapers, foundation organizers and the surf industry as a whole to work together to address this issue.

Disciplines

Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Natural Resource Economics

 

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