design forum

An Eco-Revolution is Upon Us

Firewire commits to all eco-boards, all the time

| posted on June 24, 2014
Every new Firewire Michel Bourez picks up from here on out will have a smaller footprint, but will pack the same signature punch. Photo: Joli

Each new Firewire Michel Bourez picks up will have a smaller footprint but will pack the same signature punch. Photo: Joli

There are two main obstacles in spreading the gospel of sustainable surfboards to the masses: the relative scarcity of eco-friendly board choices, and the unwillingness of top pros to compete on alternatively-produced equipment. Both of those boundaries are soon to be smashed. Firewire, one of the largest surfboard manufacturers in the world, will soon make all of their boards according to the standards of the ECOBOARD Project, an initiative from the non-profit organization Sustainable Surf. An ECOBOARD label verifies that a surfboard has a foam blank made with recycled or bio-based content, and is glassed with resin that’s at least partially bio-based too. It’s the first time a shaping company of this size has made the sustainable switch and committed to producing each and every single board they make in a more eco-friendly manner.

“The surfboard industry is a long way from sustainable manufacturing,” said Firewire CEO Mark Price, “but we still have a moral, ethical, and, hopefully, a soon-to-be commercial obligation to make our products as eco-friendly as possible, without sacrificing performance.” And they’ve already put their money where their mouth is, having quietly switched to using Entropy’s bio-based resins on all of their equipment back on June 1.

Touring pros Michel Bourez and Sally Fitzgibbons will now take it to the rest of the world’s best while riding eco-friendly sleds. Timmy Reyes, Firewire’s freesurfing pro, will be having his photo taken shredding the waves of your dreams on his sustainably-built boards as well. So now, wanting to ride only what the pros ride can include boards made with an eye toward being less environmentally-ruinous than conventionally-made toxic sticks.

It’s not just Firewire either. SUPERbrand’s California facilities will now make all of their epoxy boards under the watchful eye of the ECOBOARD Program. And Grain Surfboards, making their lovely wooden boards out of Maine, are also now on the program, certifiably using only sustainably-harvested wood and bio-based resins for their hand-built beauties. ECOBOARD also works with E-Tech Surfboards, a eco-friendly shaping company that also glasses lots of ECOBOARDS for Mayhem and Channel Islands, among others.

For years now, we’ve wondered when the surfboard industry would make a real push to embrace sustainably-made equipment. It looks like a substantial step has been taken.

 

If you see this label, you know the board is built with the environment in mind.

If you see this label, you know the board is built with the environment in mind.

  • Mik

    Rad. Mark Price / Nev / FireWire have always been forward thinking. Firewires have world-class shaping behind their pro models, and the glassing is light-years ahead of both PU and EPS. Strong, light, responsive. I have 8 boards, 2 of which are FireWire and they are the only one’s I ride anymore. Here in Norcal, Indo, whatev’s. There are many great shapers whom have helped progress my surfing, but the glassing is next level with FWs. No pressure dings, even with extensive travel.

  • Teddy Allen

    Hasn’t LIB Tech been doing this all along?

    • Sauly

      Yeah they have. Sorry to say Justin but Mike Olson has already been on the Eco-Friendly scene. Not to mention LibTech Boards are freakin amazing in every way

      • Mark Price

        My 2 cents: there are clearly other approaches to eco-boards out there and those efforts deserve credit.

        That said, I realize I’m probably biased on this regard, but what I think sets Firewire apart is not only the Ecoboard qualification, but also the fact that our technology has been proven at the highest levels of world professional surfing.

        At the end of the day, any sporting equipment that includes increased eco-credentials must also perform at the same level, or better than non-eco product, and should also be comparably priced if it is truly going to own any significant market share, and thereby help move the market in that direction.

        I think Firewire is possibly one of the only brands today that can check all those boxes. 100% Eco-board certification, multiple world tour victories, and a comparable retail price point to other premium, non-Ecoboard product.

        • Rashe

          Mark, as a person who has produced thousands of surfboards since 1989, I have to agree that what you say is true. You guys make a top notch product that really doesn’t even have a competitor for the price. As I said in my earlier post, I think that given the scale of global pollution, making boards with recycled foam and bio resin is less than a drop in the bucket of a contribution. But that said, what you guys have done is significant in another way. You have made a truly high performance product that is also extremely durable, which IS Eco friendly in the reduction of waste. In an industry that produces boards with planned obsolescence, you guys have done a good job.
          With regard to the Asia question, I have to admit that saying that we should all buy American made is as idealistic and unrealistic as thinking we are counteracting global warming by buying an Eco board.

  • effisk

    check these guys out: http://www.notox.fr/en/ flax fiber, cork, recycled EPS core, bio-based resins, they’re way ahead.

  • IslandLibertarian

    Next, sunscreen that doesn’t kill reefs.
    Wax?

    • Christian Shaw

      check out badger for sunscreen….

    • schwalbster

      For wax check out http://www.matunasco.com
      Been using it for 7 yrs now. Good wax!

    • Shellbelle

      Graham’s SunClear sunblock is reef friendly and not as bad for your skin.

  • randy

    fire wire are asian made sweat shop surfboards, taking away jobs in usa

  • jeff

    fire wire are sweat shop surfboards made is asia, and works probaly paid 30 dollars a week

    • Mark Price

      To set the record straight: our boards are built in Asia, but that’s where the ‘sweatshop analogy ends. We own our factory 100% which is based in Thailand. Our Management team consists of 3 first rate ex-pat surfers, and a great Thai middle management team, some of whom have chemical engineering degrees.

      We pay our staff well, and include a ‘western management’ approach to operating our factory. So much so in fact that we were kicked out of our first factory because our landlord’s other staff were bummed that they did not get the same ‘perks’ that the Firewire staff received.

      And by perks I’m referring to such simple things as the occasional company-wide lunch, and not working 6 days a week, every week.

      so by all means don’t buy our boards is you feel that only domestically built surfboards are right for you, but please let’s keep the facts straight as to what the conditions in our factory are really like. Thanks.

    • Mark Price

      To set the record straight: our boards are built in Asia, but that’s where the ‘sweatshop analogy ends. We own our factory 100% which is based in Thailand. Our Management team consists of 3 first rate ex-pat surfers, and a great Thai middle management team, some of whom have chemical engineering degrees.

      We pay our staff well, and include a ‘western management’ approach to operating our factory. So much so in fact that we were kicked out of our first factory because our landlord’s other staff were bummed that they did not get the same ‘perks’ that the Firewire staff received.

      And by perks I’m referring to such simple things as the occasional company-wide lunch, and not working 6 days a week, every week.

      so by all means don’t buy our boards is you feel that only domestically built surfboards are right for you, but please let’s keep the facts straight as to what the conditions in our factory are really like. Thanks.

  • Chuck Allison

    The idea of referring to FireWire as a “Shaping company” is a bit weird. They are an overseas manufacturing company. Mass production does not equal or relate to the tradition a soul of surfing.

    • Mark Price

      guys,

      Our boards are built in our factory in Thailand – that is an inescapable fact. However, they are still designed by some of the best board designers in the world (Nev, Dan Mann, Tomo, Jon Pyzel, Luke Short), and hand finished after the CNC machines cut the shapes.

      Aside from the location of our factory, which I understand bothers some people, there is no other difference in how our board are built, aside from the specific materials, versus every other larger board builder who uses CAD/CAM processes to cut their shapes. We are as much a ‘shaping’ company as LOST, CI, JS, DHD etc etc.

    • schwalbster

      Hey Chuck, but letting your local shaper/boardbuilder keep using the same old ultra toxic materials, (because he has to in order to stay competitive, because it’s cheaper and gives him a halfway decent margin building boards in the western world), that are not only really, really bad for the environment, i.e. THE OCEAN TOO (you know that giant body of water where you do your soul surfing in), but also for him as well, putting him at a very increased risk of getting cancer or other illnesses, despite the fact that we know better now, THAT my friend really, really equals and relates to the soul surfing!!

      • Chuck Allison

        Two points here…local shapers can and do use Eco friendly materials…..my guy does great epoxy work with recycled blanks. And a major item…FireWire has to ship at least 4000 miles to the consumer….how’s that for a carbon footprint? My local guy is 20 miles away….
        So I’m getting a local shape tuned for me and the waves I ride…with a minimum carbon impact…..plus the money stays in America !

        • schwalbster

          That is true and that’s great! But that is unfortunately the exception rather than the rule!

  • Rashe

    Let’s be honest and reasonable here. The amount of fossil fuels any of us burn driving around looking for waves for a single surf session far outweighs what go into out board. This is marketing by a company who makes their board in Asia.

    • Chuck Allison

      Consider if you will that the overseas built FireWire travelled over 4000 miles to get to the consumer. My local shapers epoxy/eps board travelled fewer than twenty. Who’s burning the fossil fuels ? As to boards ‘shaped’ with computer grinders and finished by folks who never surfed, no thanks.

  • VictorBooya

    On a side note, I think it’s pretty damn cool to have actual answers from someone quoted or talked about in an article. Even more when it’s the CEO of a big company. So cheers to Surfer for that. As for the FW boards, I can’t really talk..I have a couple CI’s and I mostly make my boards in my garage…so def not eco friendly. Anyways, it’s a good initiative. Cheers

  • Nick

    Wow, I can’t believe all the hate for such a good move. No matter how much fuel you burn searching for waves, riding eco friendly boards is a step in a good direction. I’d rather buy something built in Asia that is Eco Friendly that something that is from the US that isn’t. Also, i have no problem giving a job to some one in a foreign country. As if they are any less human then the people in the US…

  • Bretto

    Elemental Herbs (called ‘All Good’) in Morro Bay CA also makes great coral reef safe, all natural sunscreen.

  • schwalbster

    Congratulations Firewire for being at the forefront of this long overdue revolution! All power to you!

  • tom

    firewire has cooked their goose by making surfboards that break way too easy, now they are back pedalling trying to get customers back but its too late.

  • E-tech Boards

    The important thing is that the “movement” has finally gained enough ground to start being recognized.
    It’s definitely a good thing.
    And Sustainable Surf is setting criteria that will minimize all the “greenwashing” that has been going on for quite some time now.
    These are all positive steps.
    There will always be those that resist change.
    Just as there will always be those who try to exploit its infancy.
    We just need to keep moving FORWARD.

  • Anthony

    Shaper sandy Hess, makes better Eco friendly boards.

  • Anthony

    *Danny hess