Surfing is becoming an extremely popular sport. With newbies and seasoned professionals gearing up to crowd their local surf spots this summer, people are racing to retailers like Costco and Amazon to pick up cheap foam boards for the season. Wavestorms the most popular and budget-friendly surfboards on the market at $80USD, but they come with a hefty set of environmental impacts. They are made from fossil-fuel-based foams and plastics then shipped thousands of miles before being sold to dealers across North America. Despite their attractive price, buyers should stay away from such an unsustainable product, especially if they care about the ocean that provides them with surf to enjoy.
Wavestorm boards are made of a type of foam called EPS, which stands for Expanded Polystyrene. This fossil-fuel-based foam is made from natural gas, a nonrenewable resource commonly disguised as “sustainable” because it technically emits fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional petroleum. That being said, it still releases a lot of harmful pollutants into the environment. The fins and leash are made of complex hard plastic blends, but it is unclear which types of plastics are mixed to make them. Blended plastics are not recyclable because most recycling plants have to carry out separate processes to properly recycle different types of plastics, which means that these parts will sit in a landfill for hundreds of years after summer ends.
Wavestorms are manufactured by a plastic-making company called Agit Global. This company’s sole manufacturing plant is a 4.1 acre factory in the heart of Cantou, Thailand that specializes in plastic refining and product manufacturing. The company only sells to the United States, Puerto Rico, and The U.S. Virgin Islands, which means that large amounts of carbon emissions that could stem from the shipping process need to be accounted for when analyzing the sustainability of these surfboards. Very few details about working conditions in the factory and details on the manufacturing process are available. Nowadays, this means that it is safe to assume unjust and dangerous conditions unless they have evidence to prove otherwise.
Agit Global does one thing: make plastic products from fossil fuels. Their exact manufacturing processes are difficult to analyze due to a lack of transparency that accompanies just about every product’s description on their website. The only explicitly stated manufacturing claim that the company makes is this: “Our facility prides itself on self reliance as many of the materials are proprietary and are created in-house.” So, what does this statement mean, exactly? Agit is completely in control of the entire plastic manufacturing and product manufacturing process. They harvest and refine petroleum and natural gas, turn it into plastic, and manufacture Wavestorm boards. Without transparency, there isn’t really a way to determine how, exactly, a Wavestorm is made, however, it is clear that they are hiding their manufacturing process for a reason. Considering that each part of the board is derived from fossil fuels and the company has no specific plan to reduce their carbon footprint, we can infer that Wavestorm surfboards are not made in a sustainable way.
Agit Global, a Thailand-based plastic manufacturing company, makes Wavestorm boards. Agit specializes in foam, plastic, and metal manufacturing. They are best known for making Wavestorm products, but Agit sells a few different lines of affordable outdoor gear. The company claims to care about the ocean that their products enter every day, but lacks a specific sustainability plan. They only mention that their offices recycle trash and that they have an organic garden on-site. While these are great deflection pieces, the mystery of how these “sustainability initiatives” fix the fact that they manufacture fossil-fuel-derived compounds that take generations to break down still remains. At the end of their painfully short sustainability description, Agit encourages buyers of their harmful products to donate to local environmental charities in their areas. This confusing end to a rather short section of their website’s “About Us” page yet again pushes the responsibility for sustainable action onto Agit’s consumers. If a consumer really wants to act sustainably, they should probably skip the Wavestorm and buy a used surfboard or a cheaper model from a more sustainable brand if they’re looking for a budget-friendly way to ride the waves.