The earliest surfers weren’t just one with the waves, they were one with nature when it came to their boards too. Hand-carved planks of local wood, often salvaged from old canoes, were all they needed to enjoy their wave-rich shores.
Late this past February, after checking in on the SeaTrees mangrove planting site in West Papua, Indonesia with our partners Eden Projects, we went for a quick surf out in front of the local village - and the native groms put on a show of solid wave riding skills using nothing but a short, salvaged wooden plank.
These wooden planks, known as splinters, were used in this region for thousands of years, before traveling across the entire Pacific Ocean with the spread of Melanesian and Polynesian communities and their culture. In the process, splinters evolved into artfully crafted Hawaiian wave riding craft, and eventually into the modern surfboard of today.
But unlike most modern surfboards, not one of those early boards ever ended up as plastic pollution or stuck in a landfill. Which is why we’re celebrating the wooden #ECOBOARD for #PlasticFreeJuly. Celebrating surfing in its purest form - No foam. No resin. No fiberglass. Just grow, fell, shape and slide. Surfing can be way more fun when you know your board is going to biodegrade into fish food once you’re done with it.
We get that trading in your modern ECOBOARD in for a splinter may not be everyone’s cup-o-Java - frankly, we ain’t about to make a full switch ourselves - yet there is definitely much that we can learn from the traditional regenerative and circular surfboard models to incorporate into board tech of the future.
The locals of the Papua region continue to be pioneers of plank tech all these millennia later. Check out this inspiring clip to see what sustainable, local surfboard-making looks like today. Until the end of August, we’re donating $10 from the sale of every Andy Davis x SeaTrees pin to help get the film funded.
The first bank account designed for climate action
Our friends at Bank of The West just launched their 1% for the Planet checking account. The first bank account designed for climate action that gives back to non-profit partners of 1% for the Planet - like us. 1% is just the start. Put your money with Bank of The West and it won't be used to finance Arctic drilling or other sectors impacting our oceans. You're also able to track and estimate the carbon emissions of your purchases so that you can wipe-out the impact of those purchases by planting and protecting SeaTrees.
Get your own wooden surfboard - no matter where you live
Not ready to grow your own balsa or paulownia trees and mow them into your next sled? We have a stack of ECOBOARD Project partners all around the world making wooden boards with no/low foam. Following in the footsteps of the original surfers and 20th-century innovators like Terry and Josh Martins, Grant Newby, and Tom and Jon Wegener - today’s wooden surfboard shapers (like Raggamuffin below) are merging tradition with tech, and a big dash of passion.