From the wasteful materials used in surfboard and surf clothing manufacturing to the surf tourism industry, the sport of surfing has a massive carbon footprint. It’s far from the worst activity for the planet, but it’s still part of the problem and as eco-conscious surfers, it’s important that we do our bit.
One of the ways you can reduce your carbon footprint is to use an eco-friendly surf brand. These brands produce products from sustainable materials and focus on sustainability throughout every step of the manufacturing process.
There are a growing number of them out there as the demand for greener products is increasing.
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The foundations of Patagonia, Inc. were laid in 1957 when rock climber Yvon Chouinard began selling hand-made climbing gear. 8 years later, Chouinard joined forces with Tom Frost when demand began to outweigh supply.
Under the banner of Chouinard Equipment, these two pioneers began improving every aspect of climbing equipment. They created pitons that were so popular, widespread, and effective that they began decimating rock faces across the US. To remedy this issue, the innovative pair turned to aluminum chocks that didn’t need to be hammered in place.
In essence, this was Patagonia’s first foray into environmentalism, but it wouldn’t be the last.
The two moved into clothing and eventually expanded into many other sports, including surfing.
Quick Facts About Patagonia
- Founded in 1973 by Yvon Choulnard
- Headquartered in Ventura, California
- Factories and stores in 10+ countries around the world
- Sells a range of outdoor clothing and winter sport attire
- Hires over 1,000 employees
- Gives 1% of its sales to environmental groups
- Uses down that is not force-plucked and does not come from animals that have been force-fed
- Dedicated to sustainability and stopping animal cruelty
- A key player and pioneer in the outdoor apparel industry
Patagonia as an Eco-Friendly Surf Brand
Patagonia “taxes itself” by giving 1% of its sales to environmental nonprofits dedicated to saving the planet. It practices what it preaches and genuinely helps the environment, which is something you rarely get to say about a clothing brand.
Some of the sustainable products sold by Patagonia, Inc. include:
- Yulex Wetsuits: These wetsuits are neoprene-free and are made from 100% natural rubber.
- Yulex Gloves and Boots: The same premium natural rubber used in the brand’s wetsuits is also used in gloves and booties.
- Jackets: Quality surf jackets made from 100% recycled polyester.
- Urban Apparel: Hoodies and other clothing made from recycled cotton and polyester. Some of these materials also include recycled plastic bottles.
- Towels: Made from organic cotton.
- Backpacks: Fair Trade Certified and made from mostly recycled materials.
In addition to its surf apparel, Patagonia sells supplies for sports such as fly fishing, mountain biking, trail running, and snowboarding. It also remains connected to its rock-climbing roots.
Outerknown was founded by surfing legend Kelly Slater. It was established in cooperation with Kering, a multi-national organization based in France, and he launched it after departing Quiksilver, a brand he had endorsed for many years.
From the outset, the goal of Outerknown was to provide sustainable and eco-friendly apparel and it’s one of the best companies in the sector right now.
Outerknown uses sustainable materials to craft premium, long-lasting apparel, including jeans, shirts, tees, trunks, shorts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, graphic tees, and accessories.
The materials used include organic cotton (guaranteed for life in their S.E.A. Jeans) and fallen seeds from tagua palm that are dried and craved into buttons.
Quick Facts About Outerknown
- Founded by surfing legend Kelly Slater
- A sustainable and eco-friendly brand from the very beginning
- All Outerknown products are available domestically and internationally
- Offers a “guaranteed for life” promise on some of its products
- A pioneer in sustainable fashion in the surf industry
One of the great things about Outerknown is that it encourages it customers to sell unwanted clothing and they can do this directly through the Outerknown website. It discourages the use of the fast fashion treadmill, one that accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions.
The sustainable brands in this list focus on clothing and accessories, as these are the industries that generate the most waste and leave the biggest carbon footprint. But surfboards are also part of the problem and if you have a large quiver and find yourself breaking and discarding a lot of boards, it’s worth looking into brands like Solid Surf.
Solid Surf is the proud inventor of the BIOflex Surfboard, which is made using hemp and designed to “outlast and outperform” everything else.
These boards are:
- Made using 100% recyclable lightweight cores
- 2x more flexible than alternative boards
- 1,000 less toxic than traditional surfboards
- Made from volcanic basalt, as well as organic hemp
Quick Facts About Solid Surf
- An eco-friendly surf brand based in San Diego
- Responsible for the innovative BIOflex range of surfboards
- Offers custom ordering to get the perfect board for you
- Reasonably-priced, high-quality sustainable surfboards
To learn more, and to place an order for your own custom eco-friendly surfboard, visit Solid Surf directly and use the order form.
As with Outerknown, TOMS is a surf-focused brand that offers a range of premium shoes made from sustainable materials. There are boots, flippers, sneakers, slippers, and more.
It has committed to using more sustainably sourced materials and while it’s not quite 100% eco-friendly yet, it’s getting there.
Quick Facts About Toms
- Produces premium footwear
- A sustainably focused brand
- Committed to making more sustainable choices in the coming years
- Member of the Fair Labor Association, which promotes better working conditions
- Includes a range of vegan footwear
Other Eco-Friendly Brands
There are many other eco-friendly brands in the surf industry, from those focusing on using renewable energy in their manufacturing to ones dedicated to using only sustainable fibers and recycled materials.
Here are a few more to consider:
- Zealous Surf: Creates sustainable swimwear and rash guards and includes a surf suit that is manufactured from recycled ocean plastics.
- SpookedKooks: Makes sustainable softboards, including the Dead Hippie.
- Iaera Surf: A boutique surf brand based in San Diego that uses recycled packaging and minimizes waste.
- Organic Dynamic: Uses locally-sourced materials and tailors its boards to the specific needs of its customers. Minimizes waste at each stage of the supply chain and donates 1% of its sales to sustainable causes. Organic Dynamic is based in New Zealand.
- Anowi Surf: A female-owned brand that creates sustainable surf wear from upcycled fabrics.
- Notox: An Aussie brand that produces some of the best eco-friendly surfboards on the market. These boards use natural or recycled materials, with the former always coming from organic sources.
Summary: Eco-Friendly Modern Surfing Brands
Living sustainably isn’t just about flying less, eating plant-based foods, and driving an electric car. It’s something that impacts every facet of your life, including your hobbies and buying habits.
If you want to reduce your environmental impact and live more sustainably, consider swapping your usual surf accessories and equipment for the ones sold by the above brands.