November 12, 2023 7 min read

Surfing is an amazing sport that allows you to connect with the ocean and ride waves for a thrilling experience.

As a student surfer, it's important to be mindful of your impact on the environment.

Exploring eco-friendly practices is not only essential for conscientious living but also holds significance for student surfers aiming to preserve the oceans they cherish; as they ride the waves, they can also ride the wave of academic success with essay writing services in the USA from Academized, creating a harmonious balance between their environmental ethos and educational pursuits.

Here are some tips for eco-friendly surfing practices:

Clean Up Trash

Sadly, beaches often have litter from careless visitors. Make it a habit to clean up any trash you see like old fishing line, plastic bottles, bags, cigarette butts etc. This helps keep beaches pristine.

Bring a small reusable bag when you surf to collect plastics and garbage easily. Pick them up during breaks or on your walk back to your car or bike. Bring them home and dispose of properly.

Organize occasional beach cleanup meetups in the surf community too. Bring gloves and buckets, and pick a beach area to focus your efforts. Little efforts really do make a big difference, especially if many surfers pitch in. A clean beach is a happy beach.

Use Environmentally Friendly Surfboards

Traditional surfboards are made of polyurethane foam and fiberglass, materials that are not biodegradable. Consider a more eco-friendly option:

  •    Wood surfboards use sustainable timber like bamboo or Paulownia wood. They have a beautiful grain and are lighter than traditional boards. Paulownia is one of the fastest growing trees and requires less pesticides, making it a great renewable resource. Bamboo also regenerates quickly without much need for fertilizers or chemicals.
  •    Epoxy surfboards are made of epoxy resin and recycled EPS foam. No toxic polyurethane chemicals are used. Epoxy resins produce fewer VOC emissions and recycled EPS means less virgin plastic needs to be manufactured. Ask your local shaper if they work with these materials.
  •    Recycled foam/fiberglass boards use post-consumer recycled foam and fiberglass cloth. This gives used boards new life. Upcycling old boards into new ones reduces waste and saves resources. You can even ask a shaper to create your board from your well-loved but beat up old board!
  •    Surfboards made of recycled plastics like HDPE plastic bottles are an innovative option to reduce waste. Bottle waste is repurposed into useful and fun new surfboards. Plastic bottle manufacturer Bureo makes their skateboards and surfboards this way.
  •    Avoid disposable EPS foam surfboard blanks which create a lot of landfill waste. Choose sustainable timber or recycled blanks instead.

Use Natural Surf Wax

colorful surfbords

Standard petroleum-based wax contributes to pollution. Opt for an eco-friendly, biodegradable vegetable-based or beeswax surf wax instead. Natural wax comes from renewable ingredients like soybean oil, coconut oil, and beeswax. They also often use less artificial scents and colours. Natural wax performs just as well. Popular eco-conscious brands include Matunas, Sex Wax, Mrs. Palmers, and Green Surf.

You can even make your own DIY natural surf wax using coconut oil, beeswax, and optionally, essential oils for scent. Simple recipes are easy to find online. Make it a fun weekend project. Your homemade natural wax will be better for the ocean and save money.

Choose Reef-Safe Sunscreen

When sunscreen washes off in the ocean, chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene harm coral reefs and marine life. These compounds cause coral bleaching and DNA damage in wildlife.

Use sunscreen with non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide instead. Or reuse eco-friendly rashguards instead of cream sunscreen. Brands like Badger, Thinksport, Raw Elements, Sun Bum, and Stream2Sea offer reef-safe sunscreen options. Look for formulas with the Hawaii Reef Safe seal of approval.

If using regular sunscreen, apply liberally and let it absorb well before getting in the water to reduce runoff. You can also search for sunscreen recipes with natural ingredients like oils, beeswax or shea butter for a DIY approach. The Sunscreen Transparency Project ranks the safety of various sunscreen brands. Do research to find the most eco-friendly choice.

Navigating the waves of eco-conscious living, student surfers can seamlessly blend their love for the ocean with responsible practices; and when it comes to balancing academic commitments, they can rely on the best assignment writing services to ensure a smooth ride through both academic and environmental endeavors.

Carpool to Surf Spots

surfboards on van roof on seashore

Surfing often requires driving to the beach. Carpool with other surfers to cut down on carbon emissions. Many beaches have designated parking areas where surfers tend to congregate before hitting the waves. Ask around at the parking lot or connect with other students in a surfing group to coordinate rides.

Services like the Surfrider Rideshare program match surfers along certain routes. There are most likely other passionate surfers who would love to carpool.

You save on gas money while reducing your environmental impact. It also makes the drives more fun being able to chat with friends.

Consider rotating drivers each week so one person does not have to take on the burden of driving all the time. Share the costs of gas to make it affordable and build community with fellow surfers. Apps like DailyCarpool also connect drivers and passengers heading to the same destinations.

Use Public Transit or Bike

For beaches close to campus or home, ride your bike or take public transportation instead of driving. This reduces air & noise pollution and saves on gas money. Research bike routes or bus schedules that go to nearby surf spots.

You can install bike racks on your vehicle to transport boards. Or get creative and attach your board to a bike trailer or cargo bike. For short distances, you can even carry your board while cycling.

Grab a few friends and make a fun surf trip out of biking or bussing to the beach. Bring reusable water bottles, some sandwiches and snacks in a cooler, and use panniers to carry gear for an eco-friendly surf session.

Educate Other Surfers

group of people carrying surfboards

As an eco-conscious surfer, gently encourage good stewardship in others. For example, if you see someone discarding cigarette butts, politely point them to a disposal can. Show them the impact of even small pieces of litter, and they may think twice next time.

Share insight on gear - which local board shapers use sustainable materials, which wax companies are eco-friendly, etc. when fellow surfers ask for recommendations. Small nudges can inspire change! Veteran surfers also have a lot of wisdom to offer the next generation on protecting the ocean.

Use Reusable Items

Single-use plastics are disastrous for marine ecosystems. Use a reusable water bottle instead of disposable plastic ones, and pack food in reusable containers. Ditch single-use wax combs for reusable ones, and avoid plastic silverware.

Reusable shopping bags can double as wet bag for your swimsuit and towel after surfing. Or get a surfer backpack with waterproof lining to keep sandy stuff separate. Cork yoga mats are a perfect reusable beach mat to layout on. Overall, look for reusable options whenever possible.

Support Sustainable Brands

When purchasing gear, choose brands that use eco-friendly manufacturing practices and source materials through fair trade. Some excellent ethical companies in the surf community include:

  •    Patagonia - makes wetsuits, boardshorts and more from recycled materials under fair labor practices. They also donate to environmental efforts.
  •    Picture Organic Clothing - uses recycled plastics bottles and plant materials like banana fiber for their gear.
  •    Finisterre - wetuits and apparel made with ECONYL nylon from regenerated fishing nets and other nylon waste.
  •    Firewire Surfboards - makes extensive use of ecocpoxy bioresins in their sustainable, high-performance surfboards.
  •    Salt Gypsy - bikinis made from recycled fishnets and other recycled nylons. Prevents waste from entering oceans.
  •    Bureo - their skateboards and surfboards are made from recycled plastic bottles.
  •    Grain Surfboards - handcrafted wooden surfboards from locally and ethically sourced timber. Avoiding disposable PU foam. 

Buying from these purpose-driven brands means less virgin resources are extracted, and waste is given new life. Reuse and recycling Matter!

Get Involved

Look for volunteering opportunities to help protect beaches and oceans. For example, Surfrider Foundation has many local chapters with beach cleanups, reef restoration events, and environmental activism to join.

Surfrider campus clubs allow students to come together for the cause. You can also start a sustainability-focused surf club at your school and rally peers to participate in eco-initiatives.


Lending time and enthusiasm to events makes a real difference. Spreading awareness and becoming active around issues affecting our waves keeps the positive momentum going.

Lead by Example

Most importantly, demonstrate how surfers can enjoy the waves while respecting the environment. Simple yet meaningful choices like recycling properly, picking up litter, using reef-safe sunscreen, and opting for eco-friendly gear set a great precedent, especially among fellow students.

Eco-friendly habits protect the playground that surfers love. As a bonus, sustainable practices often encourage community too. Young surfers look to experienced surfers to model etiquette and stewardship. So set a mindful example for the next generation.

With some awareness and effort, student surfers can help preserve the world's waves and beaches for generations to come. By making conscientious choices, you enable better stewardship of the ocean for the future of surfing. Ride on sustainably!

Author - Fred Felton
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fred Felton          

Content Creator / Editor

Fred Felton is a copywriter, editor and social media specialist based in Durban, South Africa. He has over 20 years of experience in creating high end content. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. Currently Fred specialises in the adventure watersports space, focussing on surf, kayak and rafting. He is also a keynote speaker and has presented talks and workshops in South Africa.


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