lexander Haro, Senior Editor for Inertia, reports that Slater Designs and Firewire Surfboards are collaborating with BLOOM Foam to make “arguably the most environmentally-friendly traction pad on the market today.”
In general, Mr. Haro says, “Surfing is a bit of an environmental disaster, involving toxic surfboards made from foam and fiberglass, wearing wetsuits made of rubber or trunks made in sweat shops, and using accessories made from things that, once they’re created, will pretty much never disappear.”
When surfing champ Kelly Slater left Quiksilver, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of surfwear and equipment — and his sponsor of 23 years — he started Outerknown, a high-end, environmentally-conscious clothing line. In keeping with the environmentally-conscious theme, Mr. Slater then started a health drink, created Slater Designs, bought an interest in Firewire, and started making surfboards.
Now Mr. Slater has partnered with BLOOM Foam to make the traction pads for the boards from algae. “We are literally scraping pond scum, solar drying and pulverizing it,” says BLOOM’s Managing Director, Rob Falken, “then extruding the material to create a pad that helps rebalance the natural ecology.”
The foam is created from algae biomass on lakes and ponds that are at high risk of an algal bloom, according to the website. “Algae helps keep ecologies in balance, but too much can hurt freshwater habitats and the people and animals living around them,” it says. “By sourcing our algae biomass from lakes and ponds with high algal bloom risks, we help mitigate the negative environmental effects caused by the overproduction of algae.”
The new algae-augmented surfboards are scheduled to hit the shelves in the U.S. and Australia this month. “The traction feels insane and is also a small but simple solution for seemingly unconnected industries to utilize byproducts. I’m stoked on this initiative because surfers use so many traction pads throughout their lives,” said Mr. Slater. “This is in line with a consistent theme for us, developing quality products in friendlier forms.”