Our Percentage of Green September 27th, 2007, by Mike
I recently attended the ASR tradeshow in San Diego, California where I talked to hundreds of people about Grain Surfboards and wooden surfboards in general. There was a ton of buzz at the show about â€œgreenâ€ products and their current market appeal. It made me think more about how far our company has come and about who we really are.
I say â€œourâ€ company, because so many people have played a part. Grain has always been a community of friends and like-minded people, and will continue to be that way. Of course that includes our terrific community of customers; each one of our Home Grown Kit builders has helped us refine our product with their generous suggestions. Our custom board customers have provided invaluable feedback on everything from ideas for new shapes to performance reports in all types of conditions to new ding repair techniques required for wood boards. And what can I say about the crew here at the shop? It isnâ€™t nearly enough to say that I feel very fortunate to have the brothers, friends and co-workers that I have – they are a very talented, dedicated bunch and Grainâ€™s success is their success.
Two recent custom boards off the racks.
But it is clear that Grain is not driving our success in a vacuum â€“ every wooden board thatâ€™s out there is helping to â€œspread the woodâ€. Danny Hessâ€™s board featured on the cover of Surfers Journal is a great example. There is a growing awareness of the harmful effects of our consumer choices and we are pleased to be part of a wooden board community that is doing more to reduce the toxic byproducts of plastics and foam.
It makes sense that the green factor is one reason why folks are buying and building their own wooden surfboards. And I think that people sense that Grain is deeply sincere about our desire to continually reduce our impact on the environment. From the beginning, Grain was created around the idea that more sustainable, wooden surfboards and kits should be available to anyone wanting to try it. To us, the concept of â€œgreenâ€ has always been integral â€“ not incidental â€“ and we try to be clear in where we we are succeeding in sustainability and where we can still improve.
Grain lumber transport via BMW Motorcycle.
In particular, we are very proud of the locally grown, sustainably harvested cedar that we use. Weâ€™re also pleased to say that weâ€™ve successfully glassed a board using bamboo cloth with an eye to offering this an option on our custom boards as a replacement for fiberglass. The last piece of the puzzle is an alternative to epoxy resin. Our epoxy is less hazardous than polyester, but that’s not good enough, so weâ€™re looking forward to testing a new product called Bio-Resin in the near future.
Tradeshows remind me of the unfortunate reality that many manufacturers are devising pseudo-green product lines just to seize market share in current trends. Their real motivations are revealed in the fact that these efforts extend only to a very small percentage of their business, or that their products are only token-green. Clearly the green these companies are interested in is simply the color of money.
Blue skies and clean water.
This â€œgreen-washingâ€ should offend those of us that are sincere about doing better – as consumers and as manufacturers. Even the well-intentioned need to use words like â€œsustainableâ€ and â€œgreenâ€ in proportion to their true dedication to those ideals â€“ as evidenced by their actual use of sustainable materials. Most glues, petro-based non-recycled plastics, plywood, and imported anything are all deleterious to the environment. Even green materials carry environmental costs.
At the shop, we talk alot about the â€œperfectly greenâ€ surfboard. But letâ€™s be real – no environmentally neutral surfboard is being commercially offered anywhere, and truth be told – once you account for transportation, total energy budget, carbon impacts and waste generated in the shop and office – it is flat-out impossible. No amount of marketing or gimmickry will change that.
We are proud of Grain’s dedication to the environment and we will continue to work towards an impossible ideal where we donâ€™t talk about how green our products are, but one in which â€œgreenâ€ and â€œsustainableâ€ are a 100% reality.
A friend of Grain enjoys the fruits of our labor on a demo Waka.