Surfing Sustainable Waves

SurfingSurfing is an energetic, full body sport that is a favorite pastime for many who live near coastlines around the world. With a surfing culture that is present in a numerous amount of countries, surfers are continuously spending time in the ocean, taking part in a sport that depends on the environment. Any ongoing aquatic activities tend to put strain on the ocean, but surfers across the globe have a strong understanding of the importance of maintaining its natural qualities. Recycled surfboards bring a green aspect to the sport, made specifically with the environment in mind. Popular companies have opted to use materials that are sustainable, constantly giving back to the planet.

In an ironic twist, although surfers worldwide enjoy being outdoors and becoming part of mother nature as they ride waves, the traditional boards they ride them on are dangerous towards the environment. Made from toxic chemicals, the surfboards are harmful towards the ecosystems that live in the water. It is not rare for surfboards to break in half while riding powerful waves, which leaves broken bits of these toxic surfboards floating out into the ocean. With increasing knowledge of the harms these surfboards can cause, the surfing industry has begun to redesign the way in which surfers ride waves. One such company is Green Foam Blanks. Created by Steve Cox and Joey Stanley, Green Foam Blanks takes recycled materials and turns them into eco friendly surfboards. 60-65% of each of their new surfboards are made from recycled materials, which comes from parts of other surfboards. This drastically reduces the amount of toxic chemicals put into each surfboard. 

In the state where the surfing culture was born, Hawaii is now transforming the way surfboards impact the environment. Country Feeling Surfboards is a famous local company in Hawaii that shapes boards using progressive materials such as sugar and soy based foams. Resins are also made from plant based materials. Bamboo, hemp, and silk cloth are also used to produce this new generation of surfboards. Country Feeling Surfboards are created by professional board shapers Kyle Bernhardt and Jeff Bushman. They are transforming the way surfers ride waves, making Country Feeling Surfboards as one of the most well liked eco friendly companies among the surfing population in Hawaii. Along with surfboards, the people at Country Feeling aim to redesign the surfing culture as a whole. Other products such as stand up board paddles will be made using sustainable materials like bamboo, and surfboard wax will be made available as an organic product. Country Feeling encourages all surfers and non surfers alike to take ongoing measures to infuse a healthy, green lifestyle into their daily mindset. 

Imagine Eco Surfboards is another company that has taken productive measures to create cutting edge, sustainable surfboards. These boards are made from recyclable B-XP3 extruded polystyrene foam. Instead of using fiberglass to laminate these surfboards, the manufacturers use bamboo fabric. Using bamboo instead of traditional fiberglass eliminates much more toxic chemicals normally used. Bamboo is one of the most environmentally friendly materials available, and when used for making surfboards, it makes the product very strong and good for the planet. 

ReSurf Recycling takes a somewhat different approach to utilizing recycled surfboards. Instead of using sustainable materials to make new surfboards, the people behind ReSurf are taking broken boards and using those parts to make asphalt filler. These unused parts of broken boards are able to also make filler for concrete. Many surfing communities have designated drop off locations where surfers can donate their unused and broken boards to ReSurf, continuing the process of recycling. The efforts done by ReSurf takes all the boards that would normally end up in landfills across the country, and turns them into much more productive, and necessary components needed to make roads.

The feel good, relaxed atmosphere of the surfing culture is an attractive one for people around the world. With the help of international companies, green surfboards are more easily accessible. The importance of protecting the environment is a widespread movement, and surfers are now more than ever taking positive measures to assure their natural playground isn’t destroyed. 

Photo credit: www.epa.gov/flowoftheriver/images/flanniganfullsize_2.jpg

Oregon’s Historic Bottle Bill Updated and Expanded

During the 1960s, Oregon hiker and outdoor enthusiast Richard Chambers became frustrated with the amount of litter he encountered while exploring his state’s rivers, forests, and mountains.  In the economic prosperity that followed World War II, the use of disposable metal containers had become widespread for the first time in Oregon and much of the rest of the United States, with the unintended side effect that natural areas became littered with garbage. 

In 1968 Chambers began a years-long campaign to convince state lawmakers to address the problem, eventually resulting in legislation that would be used as a model by other states and countries seeking to limit littering and encourage recycling.  Oregon’s “bottle bill,” as it has become known, helped clean up the outdoors by requiring consumers to make a refundable deposit on certain disposable containers.  Now state lawmakers have updated the law to eventually include more types of containers, in hopes of continuing the bottle bill’s long success story.

When it finally passed the Oregon legislature in 1971, the bottle bill set requirements that consumers pay a nickel deposit on steel and other metal cans, which would be re-funded if the cans were brought back to recycling centers housed at stores.  Since then, the bottle bill has provided an incentive for Oregonians to recycle their containers rather than discarding them as litter or disposing of them in a landfill.  The bottle bill has helped give Oregon one of the highest recycling rates in the nation.  Since Oregon’s passage of the bottle bill forty years ago, ten other states have implemented bottle bills of their own.

Yet as time wore on in the decades following the bottle bill’s original success, environmentalists in Oregon became concerned the law was in desperate need of updating.  For one thing, a five cent deposit in the twenty-first century means a lot less than it did in the early 1970s.  For another, an explosion of new types of beverage containers—many made from plastic rather than metal—means a large percentage of containers used by consumers are no longer covered by the nickel deposit system.

Such concerns led the Oregon legislature to take up the bottle bill again in 2007.  That year state lawmakers expanded the deposit system to include certain water bottles, and established a task force to recommend further ways the law should be updated.  This eventually resulted in a series of updates passed by the 2011 legislature last week. 

Oregon House Bill 3145, which updates the bottle bill, will gradually expand the existing deposit system to include juice, tea, coffee, and energy drink containers.  All beverage containers that are between four ounces and 1.5 liters must be included in the deposit program by the year 2018, greatly increasing the number of containers consumers can return for a nickel refund.  Perhaps just as importantly, the law says that after 2017, container deposits will increase from five to ten cents if the percentage of bottles returned for recycling falls below 80% for two years in a row.

The bottle bill expansion was passed by the Oregon legislature this year with wide margins of support, and received the backing of both Democrats and Republicans.  Earlier this spring House Bill 3145 passed the Oregon House of Representatives in a 47-12 bipartisan vote.  It then went on to the Senate, which voted 19-11 to pass the bill last week.  The final step awaiting the piece of legislation is for it to be signed by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D).  However this is largely a mere formality as the governor is fully expected to it.

Though it will take several years to be fully implemented, Oregon House Bill 3145 has brought long-awaited updates to one of the most historically important state recycling laws in the United States.  By expanding the bottle bill to include more containers and perhaps eventually raising the deposit charged, the legislation will likely further increase recycling rates in Oregon.  It may even put Oregon in a position to once again lead the nation when it comes to innovative ways for encouraging environmental responsibility. 

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4626047848/sizes/m/in/photostream/