Surfboards are a nasty business. Made from poison and ridden by a group of people who generally profess to love the environment, the very process of creating them creates a shitload of toxic byproducts. There are other options, though, and they’re rapidly becoming more feasible. The newest iteration of boards made from green materials comes from lemongrass.
Of course, It would be remiss of me to not mention Sustainable Surf in any conversation about the new wave of eco-friendly boards. The California-based non-profit does a variety of things, one of which is the ECOBOARD Project, a program that helps board builders make informed choices about new surfboard materials with a reduced environmental impact.
Lemongrass may sound like an odd choice for a surfboard material, but it’s surprisingly versatile. Meg McDougall, a farmer from Australia’s Gold Coast, is still in the very early stages of lemongrass surfboard building, but her mini prototypes are promising. For the last five years, she’s been growing the plant, native to Australia, at Rocky Point, an area that also includes a sugar mill of just over 7000 hectares.
According to ABC, “the vascular system of the lemongrass plant has a foam-like structure that floats when processed and waterproofed.” In the next few weeks, McDougall plans on building a full-size surfboard with a company out of Currumbin.
“The potential of lemongrass as a surfboard is that it is super light and super strong, the whole plant is used from the outside to the inside,” said McDougall. “I think a lot of people understand there are millions of surfboards made each year and we need to be responsible for the environmental impact of those surfboards.”