As this month is Plastic Free July, I thought we could talk about the sustainable things happening in the surf industry and simple swaps you can make to “GREEN YOUR SURF.”
We all know the simple swaps in our everyday life:
- The water bottle
- Coffee cup
- Lunch container
- Shampoo bar
- Take 3 for the sea
But lets dig deeper…
“The Hawaiians surfed on wood. The Peruvians surfed on reed. We surf on plastic.” – Veit Juergens
The surf industry is not a green one. Our stoke after a surf hides the fact that the industry is built on plastic and chemicals. Petrochemicals.
We only have one planet though and she’s amazing! So, I’ve collated some simple swaps that you can easily make in your everyday...
1. TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT YOUR SUNSCREEN
Pretty much all sunscreen comes in a plastic bottle or tube and is filled with toxic chemicals. They work by ABSORBING ultraviolet light.
One of these chemicals, oxybenzone disrupts DNA in coral, and has been directly linked to coral bleaching. It is also absorbed through human skin and through the umbilical cords into our unborn children.
So there’s an alternative ingredient that works just as well. It’s called ZINC OXIDE. It is found in nature.
Instead of ABSORBING UV rays, it REFLECTS them.
Zinc Oxide is much safer. It doesn’t kill coral reefs, it provides amazing protection against the sun and it’s actually good for our skin!
We stock many zinc based sunscreens at Indigo. All have been tested and loved by myself and our family. And all are in recycled, recyclable or home compostable packaging.
This particular sunscreen is one I’m keen to mention....
It’s called Sunbutter. It’s made by two Aussie marine biologists and it has just recently gained TGA approval as a 50+ sunscreen.
It’s been a lengthy and expensive process for them, and that is why so many small makers are unable to gain the TGA certification even though their creams are just as good.. I congratulate Sunbutter in making zinc oxide mainstream as a sunscreen not just a zinc.
Even better, Sunbutter rubs in virtually clear.
And these sunscreens and zinc based lip balms from Winki Zinc work just as well as makeup as they do surf zinc! I love to use them out of the water as cheek stain, lipstick and even eyeshadow cream!
And Sun and Earth provide the perfect base! Made on solar power, these surf zincs hold fast and rival any mainstream surf zinc brand! Apply it lightly as an everyday makeup base and thickly to surf for hours on end!
2. CHANGE YOUR SURF WAX
How do you think surf wax is made?
Grab some petrochemical sludge, bleach it and add to it a bunch more chemicals, pour in some palm oil, stick it in a box and label it surf wax. Simple.
Well..... Not simple.
We come into such close contact with the stuff that it’s important to say that those same chemicals can cause cancer and reproductive issues. The effects on our marine animals and environment are still not yet known considering every bit that washes off our board contains plastic...
Bees Knees Surf Wax is one brand made by hand here in Australia from three ingredients. Tree sap resin, pure coconut oil and raw beeswax….
Palm oil free. Toxin free. Safe. Stable.
It comes in three different water temps, tropical, warm and cold.
I choose to stock Bees Knees because my family like to use it in the water and aside from the sticker, it comes in home compostable packaging! I even throw the sticker in our home compost bin and it degrades just fine even though it's not rated compostable. I love supporting Australia's bees and they beekeepers too. Our planet wouldn't survive without them!
3. WHAT ABOUT YOUR LEGROPE
All leg ropes are made from plastic and petrochemicals. All broken leg ropes end up in landfill, not just the broken bit!
Smart Leash, an awesome Aussie small business run by Dan from his garage in Ballina, creates a surf leash system that allows for parts to be replaced to fit any broken legrope. Just grab a fin key and replace the broken bit. It’s so simple and you’ll be back out in the lineup in no time and landfill will thank you.
Also look out for Revolwe. We are yet to get them instore but they’re made from post consumer PET bottles with a biodegradable cuff. Currently the world’s most sustainable surf leash.
4. TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT THE CLOTHES WE WEAR TO SURF
This goes for the guys so much as the girls…
We all know there is nothing that works better for surfing than nylon. It’s in our swimwear, our rashies and our boardies. It doesn't waterlog, it doesn't stretch, it protects us from the sun and it is resilient.
But, nylon is a plastic and it sheds microfibers so, what alternatives do we have?
I have learnt a lot about fabrics in the two years that Indigo and Salt has been around. There is a lot of talk about recycled fabrics these days and whether they are really sustainable. If you ask me, one fabric is made from waste, one is made from oil. I know which one I choose.
Econyl® is a regenerated fibre made from old ghost fishing nets, nylon carpets and disused clothing.
It is a sturdy fibre with a much finer weave than regular nylon. It’s longer lasting and because of the finer stands releases less microfibers that regular nylon.
Some of the fabrics created with Econyl® are the softest and smoothest fabrics you have ever felt leaving absolutely no reason not to change your ways!
And here is a suit made from Reprieve®.
Reprieve® is a fibre made from recycled plastic bottles and straws. It is a fibre that has been used for years in the outdoor industry. You know it from in your microfibre fleece jumpers. In swimwear it is robust, smooth and, like in this suit, it can be super soft, breathable and long lasting. So much so that you wouldn't believe it is the same fibre!
Nylon is an amazing product in the fact that it is fully recyclable, indefinitely… i.e. a circular economy. Meaning every single ounce of nylon on this planet can be recycled again and again for the rest of eternity with NO nylon ever making it’s way into landfill.
But the technology to be able to separate nylon fibres out of old swimwear is not available just yet…
Which means that these recycled garments, with fibres that are themselves fully recyclable, are still ending up in landfill.
This is where Fulgar comes in…
Fulgar is a Brazilian company that has come up with an amazing new fibre, Amni Soul Eco®. It’s soft, sturdy and robust! And amazingly it is fully biodegradable within five years once it has been placed in a landfill environment. It’s end of life toll on the planet is so minimal. It's a beautiful fabric too that provides a beautiful feel and support on. So much so that we used it in our collaborative series with Salstore which you can check out here.
5. SO WHAT ABOUT YOUR WETSUITS?
Traditional Neoprene is a synthetic rubber made from petroleum. It's long lasting, even in landfill. I still have my wetsuit from the 90s in perfect condition.
Limestone Neoprene is mined from the earth. It is less dirty because it doesn't originate from petrochemicals but it still causes issues in landfill.
But there's a new neoprene now called Yulex that is made from plants. It is not yet known of the lifespan of this new material but the fact that most wetsuits only last a few seasons these days and that Yulex is biodegradable, that has to be a good thing. Some companies are even making their suits from yulex, Reprieve and water based glues!! And the quality and fit are outstanding!!
So I know you're all asking...
WHAT CAN WE DO WITH OUR OLD GEAR? HOW CAN WE KEEP IT OUT OF LANDFILL?
- Stash your old suits somewhere for when recycling of your suit is possible. It WILL be possible.
- Don’t wash your gear in the washing machine. It releases microfibers into our oceans and degrades the fabric really quickly. Instead rinse with fresh water each use. If you must wash, handwash gently, and pour the water onto your gardens.
- There are charities that take well maintained swimsuits, bras etc that are in good condition and donate them to women in third world nations around the Pacific, Africa and even remote Australia. Empowering women whose daily lives revolve around the water.
For old wetsuits
- Firstly, is your wetsuit repairable? It's a quick and cost effective way of making your suit last.
- If not, can you repurpose it? A laptop bag or stubby coolers etc?
Suga, a US company, are turning old wetsuits beautiful new yoga mats. And if you're in the UK, Finisterre, are attempting to create the world’s first recycled wetsuit through their take back program.
There'a a lot of wonderful people out there doing amazing things! By doing a little bit of research yourself, you'll find the best place to send your old wetsuit.
Indigo and Salt is only one tiny little business that I run from my home bringing the most sustainable of options to you. I do this because I believe that together, our choices as consumers, can and will make a difference.
Our planet needs us right now and if you ask me she is soooo worth it! Let's all do our bit to protect her.
Love Sarah x