This stylish, one of a kind, 6’3“ Surfboard Bag is produced by a company called Rareform. The idea for this product came to one of the founders when he was backpacking in El Salvador. He saw old billboards being used as roofing and realized that the vinyl they were made out of was both durable and weather resistant. Perfect for a surf bag! This company started as a small, very sustainable business with billboards sourced, cut, and produced all within the greater Los Angeles Area. Rareform seems to be actively involved in the L.A. community putting up billboards of their own, highlighting small artists and raising awareness around issues such as mental health. However, as this brand expanded, they seem to have lost sight of the sustainable company they aspired to create and opted for cheaper production methods. An appearance on Shark Tank and partnerships with notoriously unsustainable companies, like Coca-Cola, reek to me of a sellout. Their materials could allow them to be a three planet company but they need more transparency about their production methods and a larger commitment to sustainability.
All of Rareform products are made out of upcycled vinyl billboards including the 6’3“ Shortboard Bag. The company collects old billboards from around the country and diverts them from landfills to their warehouses. The vinyl that billboards are typically made from is coated in PVC and does not decompose in landfills. Although billboards are highly durable, they are often disposed of after a few months to make way for new billboards. In high traffic areas, billboard slots are swapped out after a short four week period, increasing the amount of waste produced. They divert over 100,000 pounds of waste from landfills each month and over the lifetime of the company, have rescued over 3.2 million pounds of billboards. Rareform also uses some type of stitching to create borders, zippers, and rubber for their brand label but no information is provided about where these materials are sourced from. I am very impressed with the sustainability of the materials but would like a little more transparency about the sourcing of the non-billboard aspects of their products.
After the billboards have been collected, they are shipped to a facility in Agoura Hills California by truck. They boast on their website that they get billboards all of the way from Boston which reduces the sustainability of their product because of fossil fuel based shipping. Once the billboards arrive at the California facility they are washed and cut. Clippings for the big products, such as the 6’3“ Shortboard Bag, are used to make smaller products like wallets and keychains. Nothing on the website mentions where the products go from here but after some digging I found out that they are shipped to stitching factories in Mexico and China. No information about these facilities is available which raises major red flags. The finished products are then shipped back to the Agoura Hills facility to be distributed. Rareform is admitting guilt by omitting these production steps from their website and these production methods go against their brand as a sustainable company.
The who of this brand is a prime example of corporate greenwashing. The Rareform website highlights workers from their California cutting facility, referring to them by name and providing a short video clip of the cutting process. For the stitching process, they claim to have “scoured the globe to find expert sewers just as obsessed with sustainability and uniqueness as we are” and that all of their factories are “audited and certified for fair, safe, and ethical working conditions”. This sounds awesome and I hope it is true. However, no proof is provided for any of this information and forgive me, but I have seen enough greenwashing to doubt these claims. In conclusion I am skeptical about Rareform’s supply chain and hope they provide more information in the future.