Cowabunga Dude: All-Natural Boards Bring Sustainability to Surfing
May 31, 2013 12:04PM
Surfers count themselves among the most ardent environmentalists. Yet their sport is awash in petrochemicals and carcinogens, from neoprene wetsuits and urethane surfboard leashes to polyurethane boards and epoxy resins.
So surfboard shaper Danny Hess is adopting salvaged woods, natural finishes and organic resins to transform how they are made. His boards are built to last, an anomaly in a sport in which enthusiasts’ boards may break once or twice every season. He uses Super Sap, the first U.S. Department of Agriculture BioPreferred Certified liquid epoxy resin, and is experimenting with organic foam and salvaged redwood in seeking to build a truly green surfboard.
“What I’m trying to do is build heirloom surfboards that are passed on from father to son over many generations, rather than these disposable things that we’re just consuming,” Hess says.
Before founding Hess Surfboards, Hess lived in a straw-bale house in Colorado, studied sustainable architecture at the San Francisco Institute of Architecture, built tree houses and worked as a licensed contractor. “One day I had this ‘Aha!’ moment when I realized I could create these molds, like the ones I was using to bend wood for cabinet doors, for surfboards,” he says. Hess has since expanded into also making sustainable skateboards.
Learn more at HessSurfboards.com.