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RIDE&RESPECT: for sustainability in boardsports

Every organization, at some point, returns to its origins and Good Karma Projects is not the exception; Albert and Jordi, co-founders of the organization, forged their environmental commitment through their passion; surfing. After every storm in Tarragona, the beaches were (and still are) littered with debris, which prompted them to take matters into their own hands, because although surfing a wave is environmentally friendly, the industry and lifestyle associated with these sports and practices have a lot of progress to make.

Jordi Oliva y Albert Font de Rubinat
Jordi (left) and Albert (right) with surfboards of more sustainable construction

Surfing was a low-profile phenomenon until the end of World War II, when a cultural and technological revolution propelled the sport to become the identity of an entire generation, enabling the creation of the large globalized market it is today.

While surfing has changed in terms of image and style over the decades, the production system has remained the same since the 1950s, when the emergence of new materials such as polyurethane foam and polyester resin facilitated production (making it more economical and scalable) and consumer adoption of surfboards (lighter and easier to use). Polyurethane and polyester are of petrochemical origin, with the environmental problems that this entails, not to mention the toxicity that affects the health of the workers who manufacture the boards. And, in the case of Europe, many of these raw materials have to travel thousands of kilometers from the USA, South Africa or Australia.

Today 95% of surfboards are made of these materials and if we add to that an exponentially growing market, increasingly shorter product life cycles and an unmanageable waste generated, we find ourselves with a linear trend in which the problems have a greater and greater impact. But the problem is not only in production; the impact of surf tourism on coastlines and the consumption habits of the surfing community are not always aligned with the intrinsic philosophy of the sport; respect for nature.

1000 Surfboard Graveyard
1000 Surfboard Graveyard - Chris Anderson's initiative focused on raising awareness of the environmental issues of surfing.

As a result of this need for change in the sport, Ride&Respect was born, a project focused on turning the boardsports sector into a benchmark for sustainability and respect for the environment.

It is essential that consumers, industry and administration work together to break the paradigm of surfing; we must be able to enjoy nature without harming it. We are committed to cooperation as a philosophy to turn the surf industry into the European benchmark in sustainability through open knowledge and innovation. Ride&Respect seeks to be the link between the parties; facilitating and promoting these values.

Ride and Respect
Alejandro Padró (2nd from left), project manager of Ride&Respect, in a session on circular economy in the marine and sliding industry together with Amaia Agirre, mayor of Getxo and the other speakers of the day; Ander Etxabe, Jon Lasa and Carlos San José.

We hope to promote a conscious and coherent surfing community, providing quality information to the consumer, advising and facilitating the ecological transition of the industry and collaborating with public and private organizations and institutions for the implementation of projects and initiatives that benefit the sport, environment and society.

Leading the project as project manager is Alejandro Padró, a member of Good Karma Projects since the beginning of the year. Graduated in business administration and management and with a master’s degree in business management from innovation and internationalization, Alejandro has been in the industrial sector of surfing since 2013, manufacturing boards with sustainability as the main objective because, as he says, “to see, breathe and feel first hand the reality of the surf industry makes you more aware of the challenges that exist and to be part of the change with a project like Ride&Respect is a golden opportunity from which very positive things can come out” and adds “Sustainability must be integrated both in our consumption habits and in the vision and values of the industry, but sometimes it is not so simple, economic, social or cultural barriers can hinder the change …. that is why it is essential that we have this dual focus; socioeconomic and ecological, to be able to propose sustainable solutions not only with regard to the environment, but also on the economic level, facilitating an effective transition that brings added value to the market. “

Alejandro Padró

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