Sunday, March 21, 2010

Surfing's newest trick: recycling

Take a junky surfboard that's been sitting in the back yard all winter. Grind it up. What can you do with it? Turn it into street pavement? You can. You even can turn it into a new surfboard.

The board won't win a beauty contest. But Joey Santley of San Clemente can tell you how it helped spawn, a foundation that's nudging the surf industry to go "green" and reinvent itself.

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Joey Santley, co-founder of Green Foam Blanks in San Clemente, lets polyurethane foam dust fall through his fingers in a shaping room at Lost Surfboards. Green Foam uses the dust generated in the shaping of boards and recycles it into new surfboards.

How it began: Santley, 44, grew up in south Orange County. His dad owned Surfglas, a renowned surfboard factory. "I grew up in that factory," Santley said.

Four years ago, while working outside the surf industry, Santley learned that his son Luke, 2, was autistic. Joey and Allison Santley stopped everything to focus on their son, deciding "that whatever we do with our lives is going to be something that's part of the solution rather than the problem," Joey Santley said.

Foundation: Santley, Cox, Matt Biolos and Ron Pringle started on the premise that for a supposedly pure sport, surfing has too much toxicity and waste in its industry and it's time to clean up. To set an example, they collected shaping-room and laminating waste and asked Escondido Asphalt to produce a sample of asphalt containing 10 percent recycled surfboard material. The result spurred them to try more.

Green Foam: "The first Green Foam boards were entire surfboards ground up," Santley said. The first one is on display at the Surfing Heritage Foundation in San Clemente. Santley asked premier shapers such as Biolos, Al Merrick, Rusty Priesendorfer, Timmy Patterson and Pat Rawson to shape the first ones. "Al Merrick goes, 'It just looks like a dirty blank, but it shapes great.' " Santley said.

Today's boards:Santley and Cox introduced refined Green Foam boards at the January 2009 Action Sports Retailer trade show in San Diego – boards produced by acclaimed shapers. Top surfers such as Cory Lopez, Chris Ward , Coco Ho, Pat O'Connell and Kolohe Andino have ridden them, Santley said, and Biolos' Lost Surfboards – also known as Mayhem – is Green Foam's biggest account.

Testimonial: "I've been riding one a lot lately," Biolos said. "Performance-wise you can't really tell any difference."

Industry vibe: Frank Scura, executive director of the Action Sports Environmental Coalition, said manufacturers are excited: "They were always told before that it was an impossible undertaking. Joey has resolved that."

New icon: The G brand is Green Foam's own. Boards shaped by Mayhem, Cole Simler, Patterson and others are co-branded. You can buy one at Lost's Catalyst surf shop in San Clemente. It's the same price as a normal board, Santley said, and it also uses low-emission polyester resin and recycled FCS fins. Musician/surfers Jason Mraz and Donavon Frankenreiter ride them, Santley said.

Frankenreiter's take: When he got his first one from his shaper, Jeff "Doc" Lausch, he saw little specks in the texture. "I called," Frankenreiter said, "and said, 'Is there any way you could put more of those into it ... make it even more recycled-looking?' It gives it kind of a flavor, kind of a twist on a normal light blank."

Kid Natural: Resurf's mascot, created by San Clemente surfer/artist Roy Gonzalez, is a cartoon character the foundation says will ask kids to buy green products from companies that care. Kid Natural will appear in cartoons and educational materials riding a G board. "He's here to educate and protect," Santley said.

Recycled wetsuits: The foundation is partnering with Yulex, an Arizona firm that makes organic rubber from the guyule plant. Ground-up neoprene can be mixed with organic rubber to produce recycled products. Santley has prototype material for a recycled wetsuit, a deck pad for surfboards, and knee pads and elbow pads with organic material touching the skin and the recycled material on the outside. With a prototype sandal, your foot touches organic rubber. The street touches recycled ground-up neoprene.

Possibilities: A recycled yoga mat, a recycled insole for a shoe, an organic surf leash, even a 100 percent organic, hypoallergenic wetsuit.

Luke Santley, now 6: "He is doing unbelievably well," Joey Santley said. "We think he is going to be mainstreamed in two years."

To recycle: Got an old board? Visit for drop-off locations.

Posted via web from eWaste Disposal

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