Green Alternative

I’m wondering about the existence of any kind of material that I could use as an alternative to eps foam. Particularly something that is environmentally sustainable. I’m not talking about wood here either! I’ve looked at cellulose and some other bio friendly options but haven’t found anything really.

If you want to really be green, then make a board that lasts 4 times longer than a standard board.

That’s 4 times less trash in the landfill.

That’s 4 times less resources used in making it.

Durable is the new green.

Very well stated.

Questions , How long does a standard board last ? What is a standard board ? What determines when it is no longer any good for surfing , other than total destruction ? I have boards that are 20 years old and have been surfed regularly over those years , when living in Hi I surfed every day , nothing wrong with the boards other than a little deck crushing , still perform as new . do boards really become junk or are we just a throw away society where we toss aside our toys for the newest shinier model ? If a board last 20 plus years is that an environmentally responsible product ? Answers , yes surfboards are environmentally responsible products , any product that lasts 20, 30, 40 years without turning to dust is good for the environment , do boards really end up in the land fill , I say no , how many surfers do you know with only one board , do they just throw the old board in the landfill , of course not , its in their garage or up in the rafters , not because its junk but because they wanted the newer shinier model , all surfboards are wonderful ( except the costco foamy things ) and are an expression of an art form , IMO some should be on pedestals in museums . What is a standard board , sadly in many cases it is an inferior product , something that could have been so much better , and In the end I agree with everysurfer a better built board is in every way a better board

I have boards that were made in the 90’s, but I don’t ride them regularly. Boards end up in the trash because they are not worth keeping, not even useable for a grom. Maybe someone building an artsy fence or something like a sign would use it. I give old boards to kids learning to surf, they don’t care of the board is old.
In my experience, a polyurethane board glassed with poly resin will degrade over time. It may not be noticeable to some, but it changes for the worse. Some people call it the flex response, I don’t know for sure, but I have experienced it, and most people I know agree. If you use a board every time you surf and you surf everyday, you will notice one day that the board feels lifeless. It has lost the magic that you loved in that board. You notice it when you make a turn and the board doesn’t have the same response it used to have. The same thing happens in springs and other things that you constantly flex back and forth, they wear out.
Modern boards using carbon fiber cloth and other tech may last a lot longer, but PU/PE dies over time. The worse board I’ve had was a pro sand finish PU/PE, it didn’t last a year before the rails imploded and it was crushed.
A good EPS foam may be the best bet if covered with a wood skin like Balsa or Paulownia. The strength to weight ratios are really good, and the build process is pretty simple and quick. Carbon fiber over EPS would be another good choice, but the black carbon cloth can get hot if left in the sun.
As long as you are glassing the core with resin and glass, you’re not making an environmentally friendly product. A fiberglass shell doesn’t biodegrade quickly, and I don’t know of any way to re-use or recycle that. I used to combine the foam left from shaping with dirt for a fill to keep the soil from compacting. Got the idea from watching a plant nursery planting newly sprouted plants. The soil seemed to have EPS foam like beads in it.
The only way to make a truly environmentally friendly board is to do what Tom Wegener does, and grow Paulownia trees to make surfboards. He doesn’t glass them, just oils them. All shavings are used as mulch for the trees. I’m not sure what kind of glue he uses, but there are bio glues that would make the whole thing eco friendly. If you use power tools, you’re using energy or fuel, so that impacts the environment.

Just regurgitating some info read off sways:

  • Corecork if in USA, sustainably sourced from Portugal.
  • Mycelium doesn’t work for custom boards because it needs a mould. It also needs expensive light wood to really work.
  • EPS can be eaten by worms or recycled into say, Marcofoam. Marcofoam isn’t available everywhere. EPS recycling is a compromise really.
  • Hollow. A core isn’t really essential - it can be removed or the board built via external mould but then you’re left with a mould. Same problem as the mycelium.

Hope this helps. As you can see the options are not the best due to availability around the world.

I dream of being able to reshape my boards. The permanence of the boards is what I don’t want. I would like 1 or 2 boards at a time. I like things to be temporary so I can make a new boards without needing more storage and also putting the past behind me. It’s a zen thing.

re Kookie , there was someone on Sways recently showing how he regularly reshaped all his boards to get a second time around , Zen is good , so does the, life , flex , magic come back if its reshaped and reglassed . if the answer is yes what could be better than a board being reborn ,

Keep in mind there is a front to back impacts of any alternative methods as to what is truly environmentally friendly. Sourcing materials has its own impact on the environment, so a seemingly “green” material may have a front end cost of difficulty in sourcing or could be a result of a dirty manufacturing process and potentially dangerous disposal issues (think lith-ion batteries). As said by others in this thread, a board built to last is the greenest board out there.
On a side note, while PU foam is made via a nasty chemical process, it is relatively non-toxic once fully reacted, just don’t burn it.

EPS is made from styrene (PS = polystyrene). Styrene is made from benzene…
How is redwood, balsa or paulownia (et. al.) grown, harvested, processed, milled, transported and distributed?

Be an environmentally friendly surfer - dont go on surf trips.

1 airplane ride probably pumps out more nasty then all the boards you’ll ever own.

The board you ride may make you feel good but it’s a measly drop in the bucket.

Ride an old tree tom style.


Good question. Does the foam have the flex, is it in the shell, or both? My former shaper and I talked about years ago and he said the foam loses the flex.
I’ve heard people complain about the way EPS or XPS flexes compared to PU. I always figured that means the foam, but I’m not sure.
It would be a bummer if you did it and found the foam is the dead part.
I’ve reshaped about 10 boards with PU, EPS, and XPS foam. The PU were all really old very thick and long boards reshaped into smaller boards between 9-7 an 7-6. The foam was the old heavy stuff, so they feel heavy and stiffer, OK for a longboard cruiser.
I would love a board made with something that allowed for constant changes. You could start with one rail profile, then tweak it and see how the changes affect performance. Same for bottom contours. Something like a thick molded plastic shell, but light enough to compare to a modern surfboard. As long as you take away material, you could keep messing with it. Start with a hard tucked edge, then slowly soften the edge, then round off the rail and see how those changes affect performance. Start with flat bottom, maybe a small amount of vee in the tail then do a double barrel concave, then a single to double, then single all the way. Having the same board, but being able to do the small changes would show how much those aspect of board design affect performance. But, in the end I think it would just confirm what we already know.

It is almost impossible to surf or build surfboards and have no environmental impact. Most people have to drive a ways to surf. My closest spot is 30 minutes away. I am in the build them to last camp. The average production board has 2 layers of 4oz on top and one 4 oz on the bottom. The PU boards will dent up and crack or break after year or two. I built several boards with 3 layers of 4 oz on the top and bottom (epoxy/EPS) and they are most bullet proof. They will last for years. Now I am having boards glassed by someone else and they doing one layer of 8 oz and one 4 oz on the top and one layer 8 oz on the bottom (epoxy/EPS). After I finish my current board, I want start doing Balsa, because I tired of working with toxic foam. I wanted to try make it without glass. (I know many say you can’t.) However, it has to shipped all the way from South America and then to me. So, it has plenty environmental impact. There is lots of agave in California but it has to be glassed.

Who needs a shaper when there is always a podiatrist in the phone book.