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Pro Surfers Are Totally Stoked as New Ocean Activists

Todd Woody - TakePart
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May 13, 2015
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Spicoli.

That name dogged a generation of surfers. Sean Penn’s dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks, perpetually stoned surfer in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, fixed the image of the sport in the popular imagination for decades. Sure, Jeff Spicoli was a caricature, even in 1982, but there’s some truth to the stereotype of self-absorption: Surfers’ environmentalism often ends at the water’s edge. Long after most industries gave at least lip service to sustainability, surfboard manufacturers continue to crank out toxic slabs of unrecyclable, petroleum-derived polyurethane slathered in a carcinogenic polyester resin that inevitably end up in a landfill.

“Surfers have always kind of been environmentally aware - until it came to their boards,” says Todd Patterson, co-founder of ETech Surfboards in Los Angeles. “Everything else needed to be sort of natural and all that stuff, but when it came to the boards they didn’t care - they needed what they were used to.”

Three years ago, professional big wave surfer Greg Long could have been one of those guys. Now he rides Ecoboards, surfboards certified as sustainable through the use of recycled and non-toxic materials. “People are waking up that we haven’t been walking a path of sustainability,” says Long, 31, standing barefoot on a bluff overlooking Trestles,  the iconic surf break in Orange County, California. We’re at the epicenter of the $7 billion global surf-industrial complex, home to high-profile surfboard makers, apparel giants like Rip Curl and Quiksilver, and the surf media. “The way I see it is that we’re at a tipping point right now.”

That tipping point may well have come on March 31. That’s when Kelly Slater, the legendary 11-time world surf champion - whose every move is watched by his 3 million social media followers - won a heat in a high-profile competition at Bells Beach in Australia.

He was riding an Ecoboard.

Read the rest at TakePart

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