Sunday, September 25, 2011

Buy, Use, Discar......Reuse?

Back to base early, with less surfboard than I'd set out with. Mozambique 2011

A pretty weak image this week I'm afraid, sorry about that but it's there to illustrate a point not make your eyes smile.

It's a sad fact that most of us decorate our lives with a whole lot of crap that we don't really need, and then when we're done with it we store it away never to be used again or we throw it in the bin. What a waste. But there's an alternative:


Now I'm no saint when it comes to all this, but I'm trying my best. Luckily this photo of my sour "surf cut short" self does illustrate kind of well the point that I want to make.

REDUCE: First up, don't by what you don't need. Simple huh? But how many people buy stuff like clothes to follow fashion and then end up with more than they need? Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia has, in a beautifully inspired and completely crazy business move, instructed all of the sales staff in Patagonia stores to ask customers "Do you really need this?" He claims that their product is made to last so you don't need a brand new jacket every year. Anything that anybody makes costs the planet more life than it can give back. Doesn't matter how sustainable or "green" it is, it has a negative impact on the environment, so please reduce you impact.

REPAIR: 6'2" x 18 1/4 x 2 3/16ths Clayton shaped for Kelly Slater.
I found this board in the second hand racks of a surf shop in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa three years ago. The story goes that this board was shaped for Kelly Slater for the J-Bay contest by Clayton Nyanaber the ZA Quiksilver shaper. I doubt that Slater ever surfed it; I imagine he gets given a stack of shiny new sticks at every contest, picks them up and looks them all over then grabs his trusty Merrick and paddles out. The "Kelly" boards are then distributed to the local Quiky sponsored surfers and this one bloke had changed board sponsors so was having to sell off his entire quiver. It cost me £100 and is one of the best boards I've ever crabbed along a wave on. The first thing I had to do was peel all of the big red Quiksilver stickers off it so that when I ran down the beach with it people didn't expect me to rip. It's got a contest weight, super light, glass job on it for speed over strength and I swear every time I duck dived it I could feel my thumbs squidging the deck in so it was a snap waiting to happen, and snap it did in Mozambique in August this year. I don't snap a lot of boards; either I'm pretty light footed or, more likely, I'm not charging hard enough. Any clown can fall into a barrel but it's a lot harder weaving your way through and making it out, and my bin it:win it ratio isn't all that good. This board kicked the bucket on a really good swell but a pretty ordinary wave when I pulled up under the lip and as I tried to drive down and out of it the lip landed right on the nose, snapping my board half way between the nose and my front foot. When I came up the nose was still hanging on by a flap of fibreglass, but then the next wave landed on my head and I ended up proning in with just the back half of my board. Another surfer found the nose washing around the shore break later on and brought it back up for me.
Repaired snapped or creased boards are never the same again, particularly ones with light glass jobs; they flex differently, they carry a bit more weight around the repair but there's no way I'm putting this board in the bin: it's either getting repaired or I'm turning it into a chair or a cool looking shelf. The snap's close to the nose so won't affect the important part of the board and truth be told I probably won't notice the stiffness or extra weight.

The scene of the crime on the day before I went from two boards to one board and two bits in my boardbag. Mozambique, 2011.

REUSE: Howies "buy, use, discard" organic cotton tee shirt.
A friend gave me this tee shirt almost 10 years ago. It was the nicest tee shirt I owned and was top of the pile for a while, kind of my fancy going out tee shirt of choice despite getting a lot of grief from people with no sense of irony. After a while it slipped down the rankings and just became a standard go-to bit of clothing before ending up in the "Sunday stack" to wear for painting fences and doing odd jobs. Then it got the promotion to surf shirt when I lived in West Australia. A knot got tied in the back of it so that it wasn't all baggy when wet and wouldn't end up being pulled up over my face in an approximation of being water-boarded when getting rolled around underwater. This shirt was originally a really dark petrol blue, but now when it's dry the shoulders and back are a really pale lilac colour where it's just been punished by the sun and salt water over years of surf trips. The only bit that's close to the original colour is under the arms and whenever I see the faded shoulders I'm glad it wasn't my skin copping all that brutal UV. When it starts rotting and an arm falls off or something it'll end up in my workshop as a rag for wiping up glue or oiling picture frames. That or I'll hang it up on my wall as a trophy. I think I've made the most of this garment.

Good, surfable, boardshorts are rare like rocking horse poo. Finding out that your new pair of boardshorts chaffe or catch on your knees or are too tight or have a button that makes them damn uncomfortable to lie on a surfboard in is rubbish, especially if you've only taken two pairs on a trip with you because you're going to be spending a lot of time being uncomfortable. My old pair of boardies are starting to give up the ghost so I'm phasing in these new favourites and the nice thing about them is that they're recyleable under Patagonia's common threads programme so when I've worn them out, ripped them in half or decided that I don't like stripey shorts any more I can send them back to them (or drop them in store) and they'll recycle them into new fibres or fabric. They've also developed an ebay store to sell on unused or unwanted Patagonia items rather than have people leave them at the back of the cupboard because they don't surf/climb/go outdoors anymore.

Do the planet a favour please and take stock of all of your stuff then see if you can implement any of the 4R principles in any way now or in the future. The future will thank you for it.

1 comment:

  1. Another really great read! I love your style, It's really good.