create / 2015

the EcoBoard Project

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Sustainablesurf.org

Our goal is to create the first ever Workshop Showcase for a new paradigm in surfboard + watercraft design & production - The EcoBoard Project. Appropriately, SoCal was the birthplace for surfboard manufacturing and innovation. Sustainablesurf.org is currently working with leaders in the surf world towards better, safer, healthier practices - from shaping + design to glassing + storytelling. Working with Marko Foam, E-tech, and Entropy Resin, we will show how this transformative process works.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • Looking also at Hawthorne, DTLA or near USC Campus.

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Mobilize for systems change
  • As a working prototype, with an installed base of 10k EcoBoard Project consumers we will continue to educate, train and promote sustainable practices in what continues to be a very toxic environment, that is ripe for an eco-transformation.

How will your proposal improve the following “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Concentration of manufacturing activity in LA
  • Minority- and women-owned firms

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to create.

E3 Surf Craft’s E-tech Glassing + surfboards (http://www.etechsurf.com) featuring co-founder Ryan Harris, is the first African American led, LA based eco minded surfboard making shop of its kind. As our prototype and “innovation lab” EcoBoard partner, we will work closely to create a workshop where individuals, companies, students, amateurs and pros, in and around the surfing community can see how innovation in materials and mindset, as related to surfboard building, can help transform an entire surf industry + culture. The EcoBoard Project promotes the adoption of non-toxic and low-carbon materials that leverage plant-based chemistry and recycled components, to produce a superior sustainably minded product resulting ultimately in a healthier workplace and ocean playground.

Having this popup Lab in LA, one of the most creative hubs in the world, enables us access to many of the thought leaders, industry veterans, educators, artists and media professionals for a robust collaboration and meeting of the minds. As the Pacific is at our front door, we will have multiple opportunities for EcoBoard demo’s, education on plastic pollution, ocean acidification, storm runoff, and the overall need to keep our oceans healthy. We would do this in collaboration with local experts and organizations like Heal the Bay, Surfrider, the 5 Gyres, WaterKeeper and the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

We have several other programs and initiatives which tie-in nicely to the EcoBoard Project. “Waste to Waves” (http://wastetowaves.org), our styrofoam collection which turns discarded foam into board blanks with Marko Foam. “What’s in your Board” (http://wiyb.sustainablesurf.org), shows the evolution of the surfboard and how it went from a green to a very toxic product through its manufacturing + design evolution. And “Deep Blue Surfing” Events (http://sustainablesurf.org/contests/), where we work closely with surf contest and event companies like Volcom, Vans and the World Surfing League reducing environmental impacts of a professional surfing contest.

Surfing begins with a surfboard, and it is our mission to transform the industry into better practices without sacrificing performance nor the bottom line. As the Surfers Poll recent “Agents of Change”, we can already see a movement starting towards cleaner, more planet friendly materials. Our hope is this trend continues into all aspects of ocean related activities - where toxic materials and waste have been the norm.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

The EcoBoard Project includes an evaluation component that tracks the evolution of the market and the effectiveness of the program. Our work is also quantitatively evaluated through extensive list management of workshop attendees, consultations with manufacturers and shapers, surf professionals, along with classes and events. Boards purchased through the workshop and the yearly output of E-tech will be catalogued. Sustainablesurf.org is aligned with industry leaders, professionals and amateurs purchasing EcoBoards through affiliates like Lost Surfboards, Channel Islands, Firewire and others whose data can be anonymously included in aggregate in our yearly summary.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)