– stripping surfing back down to its most elemental form

Invasive Species

Many people out there are seriously trying to make surfing a bit less invasive. I use the term invasive in the way used to describe animal or plant species introduced to non-native environments. A quick search of the term in Wikipedia offers the following explanation: Invasive species can alter ecological relationships among native species and can affect ecosystem function, economic value of ecosystems, and human health. Although the act of surfing is obviously not a “species”, its effects can be invasive to both our environment and humans in general. - Invasive SpeciesModern surfing has its roots in self-reliance. Surfers would often shape their own boards, make wax, art, etc. As time went by and surfing culture became less anti-social, folks realized that there was money to be made in surfing. As has happened to other great inventions of our time (insert automobile) profit became more important than its reason for existence and its effects on the future of the environment or people took a back seat to the bottom line (profitability). The idea that capitalism can take a good thing and make it bad is not new. Nor is unbridled growth and exploration a new idea either, taking for example the warning that we get in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. She warns the reader that we must check our egos before our actions, or creations in the Doctor’s case, become catastrophic.

So I’m getting a little blurry here I know. But there always has to be a little back story, otherwise writing would be no fun. The point I’m trying to make is that much of what we see in surf culture today is fabricated to make a buck, to increase the bottom line. And in some cases the bottom line is being increased for stakeholders who have no idea what surfing means.

So why is surfing invasive? Take a minute to search Google for the materials used to make surfboards, surfboard wax and other related articles. In many cases, they are toxic, non-recyclable, and extremely dangerous for the humans manufacturing it. So why do we surfers, who need so little to have a good time, support such a toxic industry? The answer to that question is not easy, but there are many ways to move forward from here. The truth is that in our modern Western culture, we have really learned to market things and we value money over everything else. So, if you are a teenager getting into surfing, there are teams of Ivy League advertisers concocting schemes to get you to buy what they want you to buy.

Firefish - An invasive speciesThere is hope after all. As surfers, we are generally restless, waiting for the next swell or in my case for my next move so I can be closer to the beach. In the time in-between sessions, we read, dream, and plan. Some folks out there are really trying their hands at alternative materials and ways of making surfboards. This site is dedicated to those people. We must all work to change the invasive practices of our pursuit. Moreover, it won’t even require any great sacrifice from any single person. All that is required is that we spend our money with care, buying only the surfing related items that we need when they are necessary to continue to follow our passion, and being aware of where our money is going. So please take a minute to look over some of the links posted here and see what shapers are doing out there. I recognize that there is little information so far but we are working hard to provide you with information about environmentally friendly and socially responsible surf gear.

Also, check out the Point Blank Boards site. They make Epoxy boards and they have been working hard on reducing their environmental impact.

• Category: art, board construction, diy, environment

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