Surf Earth: Companies combine style and sustainability in gear you will flip for

Tim Stepien/2011 Coastal Star file photo

Fire Wire surfboards have decks of sustainably grown wood.

Synergy offers sustainable, organic and fair trade beach-to-dinner fashions.

Patagonia’s Men’s Special Edition Front-Zip Full Wetsuit has a micro-grid

recycled polyester thermal lining and high-stretch recycled polyester jersey.

Lifefactory sells BPA/BPS-free and phthalate-free polypropylene-safe glass bottles

covered with BPA/BPS-free silicone sleeves.

Photos provided

By Teresa Bono

    Eco chic is what’s new for spring, and surf and swimwear companies are leading the way with hot new lines that show their love for the planet.

    This season’s fashion-forward bikinis and board shorts made from reclaimed and repurposed fabrics, sleek-looking surfboards constructed from sustainably grown wood and funky-colored recycled glass water bottles were light-years away from the Birkenstocks that once defined earthiness.

    By minimizing consumption, using Earth-friendly materials and practicing responsible sourcing, these companies are significantly reducing the release of toxins into the air, water supply and soil.

    And while it’s impressive that they’re all becoming increasingly eco-sensitive, with high-quality products and style that can keep up with the Kardashians, it’s their community advocacy and outreach that’s really creating a buzz. 

    Surfers can be proud that there are companies representing their culture like Hendrick Boards, which donates 20 percent to 40 percent of every purchase of their products to 300 animal rescue organizations nationwide; Sun Bum, which runs a program that teaches kids with autism how to surf; and Synergy Organic Clothing, which provides employment for Nepalese women.

    But for folks who have never strolled through a surf shop or who aren’t well-versed in e-lingo, a good place to start is to find out how and where your clothes, food and cosmetics are created and how and where they’ll go when you’re ready to toss them.

    Don’t despair if it all seems too labor intensive or idealistic. Many of the companies on The Coastal Star’s “Top 10 List” do double duty.

    Shopping for a new tankini? Check out Eco Swim. Not only is Eco Swim a company with a very small carbon footprint, but it also  supports beach cleanup initiatives, too.

    Along with its beach cleanup partner, United By Blue, Eco Swim has cleaned up four tons of trash in three years.

    Even household names like Billabong and Patagonia are doing their part.

    Patagonia, whose employees regularly roll up their sleeves for the community, uses alternative fibers such as recycled polyester to make wetsuits.

    And Billabong’s recycled boardies are made out of good ol’ plastic bottles.

    Being green has never been easier. Someone call Kermit!

Top 10 Green Surf Products

1. Hendrick Boards (www.hendrickboards.com) Soft, fashionable tees with rescue slogans. Maple and bamboo skateboards with handmade, water-based paints and stains derived from coffee grains. Every purchase gives back 20 percent to 40 percent to animal charities. 

2. Sun Bum Pro (www.trustthebum.com) Vegan and cruelty-free sunscreen with high SPF. Among its numerous charity affiliations are “Surfers for Autism,” “Boarding for Breast Cancer” and “The Skin Care Foundation.”

3. Fire Wire (www.firewire surfboards.com) Lightweight boards with sustainably grown wood decks. One of the least toxic of all commercial surfboards.

4. Synergy (www.synergy clothing.com) Sustainable, organic and fair trade beach-to-dinner fashions. Provides employment for women in Nepal.

5. Lifefactory (www.lifefactory.com) BPA/BPS-free and phthalate-free polypropylene-safe glass bottles covered with colorful BPA/BPS-free silicone sleeves. Reduces slipping and breakage.

6. Patagonia (www.patagonia.com) Men’s Special Edition Front-Zip Full Wetsuit has micro-grid recycled polyester thermal lining and high-stretch recycled polyester jersey. Employees clean up parks in The Backyard Collective and raise money for bike advocacy during Bike-to-Work Week.

7. Billabong (www.billabong.com) Platinum X Recycler Board Shorts Series are made from a fabric created out of recycled bottles. More than 40 million bottles have been saved from the landfill.

8. Eco Swim (www.ecoswim.com) Swimwear made of sustainable materials. Company “Green Team” bans Styrofoam, recycles all paper, light bulbs, color cartridges and plastic. Partners with Ocean Blue to do beach cleanups.

9. Ipanema (www.ipanemaflipflops.com). Made with melflex plastic, Ipanema flip flops are easier to recycle than traditional rubber flip flops. Nearly 100 percent of the company’s waste is recycled.

10. Surf Nano Products (www.surfnanoproducts.com). Alternative surface sealant that reduces friction and increases board speed without dissolving or flaking into the ocean. Owned by local surf enthusiast Tom Warnke, who volunteers at the Eastern Surfing Association, the Surfrider Foundation and the Palm Beach County Surfing History Project.

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