As diehard surfers, we love to be in the midst of calm waves and sandy beaches, and many of us might believe that we aren't harming the oceans at all. However, when we come across beaches that are loaded with trash and plastic waste that is riding the waves by our side, it is then we understand how the surfing industry is anything but environmentally friendly.
Whether it's toxins that come from the equipment or the fossil fuels that are burnt for getting to your desired spot, everything contributes to being hazardous to the surrounding environment. The good news is that there are quite a few steps that we can take to increase the sustainability surfing and skimboarding.
Without further ado, let’s look at them in detail in this surfer guide:
Choosing the Correct Surfing Board:
Did you have any idea that the type of surfboard you choose will drastically affect the environment? Surfboards are generally made from either epoxy or fiberglass, and unfortunately, both surfboard materials aren't eco-friendly. The fiberglass surfboards are made using polyurethane and polyester resin.
This means that toxic chemicals like volatile organic compounds and styrene are emitted during their production, leading to a massive carbon footprint. What makes things worse is that these boards are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable, meaning the hazardous chemicals they are made with will stay in the environment.
What can we do?
The good news is that you can get your hands on environmentally friendly surfboards that are made using organic materials like paulownia, bamboo, wood, and cork. Not only are these sustainable surfboards great for the planet, but they are far more durable too.
Use Eco-Friendly Surfing Wax:
Have you ever wondered if the surf wax you so generously use is environmentally friendly or not?
The truth is that it is more harmful than you can ever imagine. Surf wax is mainly made of hazardous petrochemicals that are formed when fossil fuels and petroleum is refined. These dangerous chemicals then make their way into the water, landfill, or beach, where they damage marine ecosystems, affect reefs, polluting the ocean.
What can we do?
So what can we do to ensure that the surf wax doesn't pollute the environment? Well, you can make a conscious effort and invest in cost-efficient and eco-friendly surf wax options. These recent organic alternatives are made using natural ingredients like beeswax, which are safe to use.
You can also make your own sustainable surf wax at home by following easy to follow methods from online guides. Even though the process is easy, it may take you a few tries to find a wax recipe that suits you best.
Be an Active Participant in Beach Cleanups:
Surfers spend a majority of their time waxing boards or riding waves at the beach, which makes them the first ones to witness the effects of leaving plastic and trash. To remove the detrimental effects of leaving waste on the beaches, surfers should actively arrange and participate in beach cleanups.
Most of the trash that is left on the beaches is plastic waste and cigarette buds. They might be small but are loaded with toxic chemicals that can seriously harm wildlife. Surfers should come together and arrange weekly beach cleanups to work towards a sustainable surfing and skimboarding.
Choose The Right Wet-Suit:
The wetsuits available in the market are made using neoprene, which is a by-product of drilled petroleum and mined limestone. The good news is that many companies manufacture eco-friendly wetsuits made with non-toxic alternatives for sustainable surf.
What can you do?
To ensure that you are contributing to the welfare of the environment, you can opt for surfing wetsuits that are available in the following eco-friendly options:
Many alternatives are made using Yulex or NaturalPrene that contain organic, plant-based, and chlorine-free rubbers.
Another type is made using recycled plastic bottles, which give the wet-suit a water-repelling lining. These high-quality wetsuits are an excellent eco-friendly option, and their only downside is that they are fairly expensive.
Surfers can also invest in ‘green’ wetsuits if they can afford them.
Use Environment-Friendly Sunscreen:
Using an environment-friendly sunscreen is crucial for anyone going out in the sun, including surfers. Sunscreen is loaded with chemicals like octinoxate and oxybenzone that are harmful to the beach, marine life, and you as well. When in water, sunscreen will naturally wash off, and the harmful chemicals will dissolve in it.
What can you do?
What you can do to protect the environment and use an eco-friendly sunscreen. You should be consciously aware to check the labels and avoid any product that contains harmful toxins.
Many companies are now making organic and marine friendly sunscreens for sustainable surf. These are an excellent option for surfers who will be spending most of their time in the water.
Limit International Surfing
Without a doubt, every surfer has a list of world-class surf breaks to ride all across the world. Don't get us wrong, it is great to see and appreciate the world's natural resources, but at the same time, the excess is harmful.
Gases, heat, noise, and particulates are some of the harmful things emitted by planes in action and contribute to climate change. You will be astonished to know that the average direct release of long-distance flights is between 100 -120 g/km CO2.
Our advice is to limit your international surfing trips and opt for shorter distances on your trips to reduce the carbon footprint.
Why Is Sustainable Surfing And Skimboarding Important For Our Planet?
According to an estimate, 35 million people worldwide love to practice wave riding, and the number is only increasing by the day. Thus, a sustainable skimboarding and surfing is crucial not only for us but also for our generations to come. As humans, we have a responsibility to preserve and take care of our natural wonders and invest in any effort possible to sustain them.
Little steps like arranging beach cleanups, sustainable equipment (sustainable surfboards), and opting for eco-friendly products will have a massive positive effect on our environment. We all must promise to join hands and work together in preserving the natural beauty of Mother Earth.
Learn more about sustainability projects of your skimboard school in Malta and be part of a growing skimboarding community.