Beach cleanup in El Palmar for more sustainability in surfing

Friday, 6. April 2018

The 10 best tips for more sustainability in surfing


As surfers we live with nature -the sea is our playground and gives us not only fun but also a feeling of freedom. As we are increasingly aware, this natural paradise is being destroyed by plastics, climate change and non-biodegradable products. But what can you do to protect this most valuable resource? Here we give you 10 tips on how you can be a more sustainable and environmentally conscious surfer.

When surfing, everything depends on the wind, the waves and the tides, we literally immerse ourselves in the natural world. But surf wax, plastic bags and cigarettes in the sand damage the beach and  the ocean. Environmental consciousness among surfers is enormously important for preserving our pristine natural environment so here are our top tips to easily reconcile surfing and sustainability. Being an environmentally conscious surfer is not that difficult, and as Kelly Slater says:

"I think when a surfer becomes a surfer, it's almost like an obligation to be an environmentalist at the same time."


Xavier Rudd sees it like this:

For me, surfing is as close a connection I can have with Mother Nature. To surf, you're riding a pulse of energy from Mother Nature. And it's strong. It's real. It's there. And you're dancing with that. You're connecting with that. You're might be the only person in the history of the universe that connects with that particular pulse of energy.

1. Less plastic is more sustainability

Did you know that over 500,000,000,000 plastic bags are used worldwide every year? That translates into an incredible 1 million bags per minute that's a lot of plastic! These bags and other plastic waste pollute the seas which is not only disgusting for surfers but has an impact on our entire ecosystem. Every year, about 100,000 marine animals die as a result of being caught in plastic waste. In addition, so-called microplastics are eaten by fish and ends up back on our plates. Less plastic means clearer water, healthier marine animals and more sustainability overall.

Weniger Plastik für mehr Nachhaltigkeit
Picture source:

Of course, we can't just do away with all that plastic overnight but you can do your part to protect nature and its creatures.

  • For example, you can recycle plastic bottles instead of throwing them away or use non-disposable glass or BPA free bottles. 
  • For your purchases you can use a jute bag instead of a plastic bag. In many large cities there are now even “unpacked” shops. These are small supermarkets where you can buy everything without plastic packaging.

A little less plastic and you can sit in the line-up with fish and dolphins instead of plastic bags around you. 

Tip: To all surf-yogis among you: The label Teeki produces yogapants from recycled plastic bottles. Our yoga teacher Jana swears by them.

2. Sustainable surf wax keeps the sea clean

Every surfer has a bar of surf wax handy. Wax is essential to provide more grip, so that the feet don't slip off the board. You can imagine that a lot of surf wax works its way into the sea over time. However conventional surf wax is made of paraffin and mineral oils and that are bad for the environment. 

The good news is that there are now some brands that make sure that their

product is not harmful but instead biodegradable and/or made from natural products. When buying, make sure that your surf wax is eco-friendly.

In the Eco surf shop, for example, you can find the Surfwax Kun_tiqi - GreenFix. It consists of 100% natural and renewable raw materials, made in Biarritz. The transport miles are relatively low due to the production in France, which helps to minimise your carbon footprint. 

The Eco-Friendly surf wax from Matunas is also harmless to the ocean. All the ingredients are grown and processed on a farm in California. Even the fragrances are extracted from real strawberries, raspberries or jasmine blossom so you almost want to bite into it. 

There are many other manufacturers who produce eco surf wax. You can find an overview and surf wax test on the Surfers Magazine website.

3. How eco-friendly is your surfboard?

A surfboard is obviously pretty essential for surfing, but how sustainable is your surfboard? Does it pollute the environment?  Surfboards can be made of various different materials. The most common construction is still  polyester resin over polyurethane foam cores because these materials are light and durable. These old-fashioned materials are not so great for the environment, but if you take care of your board you can get many years of use out of it. The important is to not just throw away a broken surfboard, but repair it. Then you can enjoy years of fun on a magic board.

The good news is that a very positive change is taking place in surfboard production. Many manufacturers are already experimenting with new and sustainable materials. Surfboards made of wood or boards made of bamboo and cork are already in production. Big manufacturers like NSP participate in the so-called Eco Board Project, for sustainable surfboard production (by the way, we also have these boaards in the camp). Here you can find a complete overview of brands that participate in this project and already produce more eco-friendly surfboards. 

Tip: In this list you will also find Firewire Surfboards, which since 2014 is the only major brand whose complete surfboard production qualifies for Eco Certification. Did you know that we are offering a Fire Wire Premium Rentalin the Surf camp and in the Surf shop? Don't hesitate to ask us about it.

4. With Beach Cleaning the beach remains naturally beautiful

We all love a clean beach as much as clean water. Unfortunately not all beaches are free of garbage. Here in El Palmar there is never much rubbish on the beach as the area is quite undeveloped. However, from time to time a storm washes up plastic and other debris onto the sand. When this happens, we go into action – it's time for an A-Frame beach cleaning mission!


At a beach cleanup, camp employees and guests walk the length of the beach picking up rubbish and taking it away. The result: great teamwork makes for a clean beach in the shortest time. Of course beach cleanups don't just have to be organised by surf camps, anyone can start one and you can get involved by checking out the Clean Ocean Project, founded in Fuerteventura to work towards garbage-free oceans worldwide.

Even without a big beach cleanup event, you can do your bit: If you see garbage on the beach, just pick it up and throw it into the next rubbish bin -it's that easy to do your own little beach cleaning.

A tip for smokers: Please don't throw cigarettes in the sand. Cigarette butts are poisonous for

the environment as the filters contain hundreds of toxic chemicals. One alarming statistic is that even with just one cigarette butt per litre of water, fish can no longer survive. Scientists from San Diego State University (Tobacco Control, vol. 20, p. i25, 2011) found that after 4 days half of the fish died  when kept in water that had contained one cigarette end per litre for one day.

Everyone helps - A-Frame beachcleaning in El Palmar

5. Turn off the tap - saving water helps the environment

Everyone likes a hot shower after a surf and that's fine but remember that the heating water consumes a lot of energy. Just turn off the tap while shampooing – it's so simple to do something good for your environment and every little helps.

The biggest part of water consumption comes not from private households but from industry. For example, one kilogram of beef requires an astounding 15,000 litres of water in its production. In the  countries of South America for example, a large proportion of land and water resources are swallowed up by the cultivation of animal feed. What can you do about it? Quite simply, the less meat products we buy and the more we buy regionally and seasonally, the more we contribute to protecting valuable resources in other countries.

6. Sustainable surf fashion

The fact that most clothing is not produced sustainably is no longer a secret. Anyone who wants to contribute something to the conservation of nature will find numerous labels on the Internet that specialize in ecologically aware clothing. The stereotype that these clothes have an uncool or old-fashioned look is no longer valid. There are now many brands that produce beautiful, cool modern surf fashion. 

  • At 2thirds the clothes not only look really pretty, but they are 100% organic and made of recycled materials. In addition, the entire collection is produced in Europe. 
  • At Vissla hyou will find boardshorts made from the coconut shells. 
  • Surf-yogis will like Teeki who make really nice yoga pants out of plastic bottles. 
  • In our A-Frame Surfshop in El Palmar you can also find surf bikinis from Josea Surfwear. collections/all-products that are made from old fishing nets.

7. Is your wetsuit good or bad for the environment?

The production of wetsuits is very energy-intensive as materials such as crude oil or limestone are mined at high energy costs. Therefore our first tip is simply: Buy a high quality wetsuit, because it lasts longer than a cheap one. Also be particularly careful with your wetsuit and put it on carefully.

Basically, putting on a neoprene suit is a bit like putting on tights so be super careful ;-) And if you find a hole, don't panic, wetsuits can be repaired easily. As with everything, there are pioneers among neoprene wetsuit manufacturers who are already committed to sustainability. The outdoor manufacturer Patagonia is at the forefront and is now producing wetsuits from alternative natural materials- a neoprene suit without neoprene.

Tip: You can also upcycle your old wetsuit. Our surf instructor Daniel, for example, makes cool bags out of old neoprene suits. You can buy Mr. Stitch bags at the A-Frame surf shop in El Palmar or online.

How to maintain your wetsuit

Here comes a little instruction from us on how to treat your wetsuit properly... ;)

How to repair your wetsuit

8. Shorter flights & less car driving

Every landlocked surfer knows the problem - yearning for perfect surf but no waves for miles around. You have to get a flight to get your surf-fix in warm water and quality waves but long-haul flights mean high CO2 emissions. One simple compromise is to just not fly so far.. For example, El Palmar is not far away ;-) Once at the beach during your surf holiday, you can minimise your impact by walking or riding a bike to the surf spot. With a bike rack you can easily bring your surfboard.

9. Sustainable sun cream and surf zinc

Sun cream and zinc sunblocks are important to avoid sunburn while surfing. What many surfers don't know is that sunscreen contains toxic nanoparticles such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Although these block harmful UV rays, they can also lead to allergies or hormonal imbalances.

In the sea these chemicals can react to produce hydrogen peroxide which poses a danger to some marine life. But don't worry, there are sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives. Our head surf coach Johnny, for example, mixes his own brand of sunblock made from 100% natural and environmentally-friendly products. You can also simply buy the right kind of zinc and suncream, there are many eco-friendly manufacturers.

At Surf Yogis surfscreen, for example, their zinc is made from 100% natural products (chocolate, beeswax, coconut oil and zinc oxide).  Eco Naturkosmetik also produce sun cream from natural products such as goji berries, sea buckthorn oil, vitamin E, raspberry seed oil and pomegranate seed oil. All products come from 100% organic cultivation. There is also sun cream for children, tattooed and particularly sensitive skin.

10. Green electricity

Not only during your surfing holiday, but also at home you can do something more for the environment by switching to a green electricity provider. At Check24 you can easily compare the different providers.

Organisations for sustainability

These organisations are committed to greater environmental consciousness sustainability:

Conclusion for your contribution to sustainability

As you can see, even on a small scale there is a lot that can be done to protect nature and live in a more sustainable way. If we are all commit to do a little, together we can do a lot!

Editor: Jana Mironowitz