OG Surf Mutants on 2007 Surf Trip. (Left to Right) Mark Veary, Dave Miller, Francisco Mazza, Derek Dodds, Seth Pettersen, Bill Dicola.

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e took a surf trip to Mexico in 2007, there were six surf mutants (my friends) loaded into a Yukon, pulling a U-Haul trailer filled with 17 boards, ten wetsuits, and a case of Sierra Nevada (ok, more than one case). We pulled up to uncrowded surf at Cuatros Casas in Baja, it was well overhead and the sets were building from the south with light off-shore winds. Epic.

I ripped the lock off the U-Haul (yea I know you aren’t supposed to take them across the border) and I began pulling out the mountain of board bags piled to the ceiling and as I was schlepping the multicolored bags out of the trailer I said to myself, “damn that’s a lot of plastic.” While pulling those bags out of that trailer it got me thinking about the 30+ years that I had been surfing and I imagined all the surf products that I had purchased as my oceanic journey unfolded. I wondered how much waste and plastic had I been personally responsible for? I started to think about all those discarded items that I had thrown away over the years—broken leashes, ripped bags, soiled socks, broken boards, and empty beer cans.

[box type=”note”]I knew I would never stop surfing, the more I surf the more I love it! My relationship with the ocean is one of the most important elements in my life—in fact, it is my life. In these moments I asked myself how could I live my passion and at the same time decrease my environmental impact on the earth and ocean?[/box] I already bought organic food and I even had some bamboo clothing, but could I find eco surf products? After doing some research I discovered that ecological surf products did not exist. Wave Tribe was born in those moments of contemplation while on that surf trip to Baja. Wave Tribe is the result of my deep heartfelt desire to give back to my fellow surfers and the planet, create a company of my own and have some fun along the way.

I decided to combine my business acumen and love for surfing into a sustainable surf products company. I had no idea how to do it but I knew I would learn because my vision was linked to a burning passion aligned with a sustainable vision for the future. I couldn’t wait, between surf sessions on that Baja trip I took all those bags and put them next to each other and I wrote down what I thought were the best elements of each bag. I started thinking about various material that could be used to replace all that plastic—it came to me after a long surf session, hemp was the perfect material! 

Hemp is a wonderful alternative to plastic because:

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•    Hemp grows naturally without pesticides
•    Hemp is mold resistant
•    Hemp is strong and durable
•    Hemp is biodegradable
•    Hemp reduces heat and remains cool
•    Hemp protects against the sun’s harmful rays
•    Hemp is straight up COOL

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But most importantly, at the end of its life-cycle hemp would go back into the earth and decompose, it wouldn’t rot in some landfill for the next thousand years like plastic. When I returned from my trip I started to do more research and began to contact factories to put together some rough samples. Next I found a company that would help me produce surfboard leashes out of recycled plastic, product number two was born and I could feel those Wave Tribe footprints getting lighter and lighter with each step.

Wave Tribe is committed to using sustainable materials and partners with companies that maintain an ethical work environment—‘we’ as consumers have forced companies to deliver lower and lower priced products. The reality is that ‘how’ a purchase impacts ones wallet is more decisive than ‘how’ the product influences the environment. We need to change how we think, how we look, how we consume, and how we live.

It’s up to all of us to join this tribal movement and to recognize the importance of walking (and surfing) differently. Our oceans and planet deserve and demand an immediate action, our lives are intimately connected to the health of our planet and if we don’t act now we’ll all be surfing in wave pools filled with boogie borders and chlorinated water.

~ Derek Dodds, Wave Tribe Founder
One Ocean, One Planet, One Tribe.

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