Eliminating Waste from the Surfboard Industry
with Switch to Zero Program
Ryan Harris, the owner and founder of Earth Technologies, Ry Harris Shapes and H2SUP, constantly strives for greener and more sustainable materials to build surfboards with. This leader in eco-conscious boards considers himself a life-long environmentalist. “I’ve always been outdoorsy with a strong connection to nature,” he says.
After growing up in Portland, Oregon, and working in product design at Nike for years, Harris left the soggy Pacific Northwest and moved to Southern California. Although not a surfer before his arrival, he quickly fell in love with the surf culture. Within his first year of moving to Los Angeles, he began shaping boards on the side, to supplement his bartender income. Soon, his hobby became a full-time gig, and 17 years later, Harris is regarded as one of biggest driving forces in the green board movement.
With his awareness of how toxic surfboard materials are to the environment, from resin to foam, Harris’s goal is to eliminate all waste from surfboard factories. His Zero Waste program is a giant leap in the right direction. “The first step for us came about 10 years ago when we began using eco-resins,” recalls Harris. “But the resin was yellow and you know that surfers equated yellow with old. Fast forward to now, this eco-resin is so clear and beautiful and it’s superior from a performance standpoint.”
While he was excited to offer more eco-friendly boards, he had a lightbulb moment last year when he realized his factory was still making a ton of waste that ends up in landfills. So, Harris set out to find solutions with several programs that help him properly deal with the waste.
Harris has partnered with companies like Waste to Waves, a company that recycles surfboard foam; and Pushfins in Portland, a company that makes eco surfboard fins out of glassing room waste. He is especially excited about being able to eliminate all of his shaping room waste with the help of a company called Living Earth Systems and their network of meal worms. “It’s an amazing process, really. Meal worms and other critters eat the foam and their excrement produces organic soil,” he explains. “This is a game-changer, how an organic life form can take something so toxic to the environment and turn it into something organic.”
According to Harris, what started as a ‘pipe dream’ is now a reality. “We’re now making usable products out of all our trash,” says this trendsetter, who hopes the rest of the industry will soon hop on board.
For more information on Ryan Harris and his Zero Waste program, visit EarthTechSurf.com.
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