Wooow, Firewire have done it again! They have made a production surfboard from cheese, no wait sparrows wings, noooo, hang on, that’s right. It’s wool! A surfboard made from wool. Eh?
That does sound amazing, but this gets better. It’s ‘sustainable wool’ from New Zealand! Boooom, I know, my mind has been blown. Er, hang on, wait… isn’t all wool sustainable, because it comes from sheep? Not being a wool expert l can’t be sure.
We thought that this latest ‘next best thing’ to come from the surfboard manufacturing giant might need some looking into because as we all know, the devil is in the details. And we love details.
Woolight Firewire Construction
As all the publicity says these three models (currently all Machado shapes) will incorporate wool from New Zealand that has been certified by Pamu (who own half the farms in NZ).
As much as we can see, the Woolight will incorporate an EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) blank, some fibreglass, a 3mm EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) layer, then some fluffy wool and finally some resin to make the board waterproof.
Call me cynical, but it looks kind of like a normal Firewire board except it has some wool in it? When I originally read about these I thought the fibreglass would be replaced by wool, But it would seem fibreglass is still in there. Maybe less, I am not sure and no one is telling.
Ahhh, maybe we should just trust the lovely folks at Firewire, I mean, they are kind of ‘nice’ and want to save the planet? Or do they?
How bad for the world is making a surfboard?
It is bad. No two ways about it. The carcinogens given off and chemical reactions that take place in the production of a PU Poly (still the most popular) are not planet friendly. But. As I have said, the devil is often in the details.
The most harmful part (to the planet) of making a surfboard is by far, the blowing of the ‘blank’ (the foam bit that is the core of the board). There are different types of foam core and some are worse than others. That aside, the core remains the single worst thing. Next worst is the resin and then, coming in third place is the actual fibreglass. Which is the very thing that the woolight seems to suggest it will use less of.
Putting this in perspective
The best way, we think, to make all of this pollution relevant is to equate it to our everyday lives. Let’s make this simple and relate the damage that the construction of a surfboard (a nasty PU/Poly board) does compared to other things. You might be surprised.
PU/Poly surfboard construction compared to things you do in life.
- Shipping a board from Asia to Europe or the US – x4 more CO2 released
- Running your AC in your home for a day – x5 more CO2 released
- A one hour drive in your car – 7x more CO2 released
- A round trip flight from Sydney to Bali – x415 more CO2 released
Take from this what you will, we believe that context is everything and the simple facts show that shipping a board around the world has far more impact on the environment than shaping a dirty PU/Poly board in your back yard.
Let’s not be too hard on Firewire
Come on, you have to give it to them, they are ‘trying’ to do the right thing, they are experimenting with different methods by looking at the least polluting surfboard they can make. However, the simple facts are that a locally sourced blank, glass and resin from your local shaper is by far the best option if you care about pollution and our fluffy green and blue planet.
Woolight might actually be worse for the planet
I was not sure if I should write this part, but I thought, aaa, what the heck. In for a penny, in for a pound.
By trying to save the planet via incorporating ‘sustainable’ wool from New Zealand, the guys at Firewire have just added a new load of pollution. They have to ship the wool from New Zealand to Thailand (where Firewire boards are currently made) and then on to you the customer (where ever you live). Double trouble for the pollution. And all to replace (but not entirely it would seem) the least polluting part of making a surfboard.
Some who are more cynical than I might say this was just a huge publicity stunt by Firewire to sell more boards and appear to be doing the right thing. Personally, I just don’t think they would do that. Rob Machado and Kelly Slater, just seem like nice dudes who care…