We took a surf trip to Mexico in 2007, there were six of us surf mutants loaded into a Yukon, pulling a trailer filled with 17 boards, ten wetsuits, and a case of Sierra Nevada.
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.
I ripped the lock off the Uhaul (yea I know you aren't supposed to take them across the border) and we 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 thirty years of surfing that I had done and the hundreds of surf products that I had purchased as my oceanic journey unfolded.
I asked myself, "how much plastic had I been personally responsible for?"
I also started to think about all those discarded surf items that I had thrown away over the years—broken leashes, ripped bags, soiled socks, broken boards, etc.
I knew I would never stop surfing, the more I surf, the more I appreciate it. My relationship with the ocean is one of the most important elements in my life—in fact, it is my life.
How could I live my passion and at the same time decrease my environmental impact on the earth and ocean?
I already bought organic foods and I even had some bamboo clothing, but where could I find clean 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 was a result of a deep heartfelt desire to give back to my fellow surfers and the planet!
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:
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 rays
Hemp is straight up COOL
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 learning as we go, we are a stoked company of surf crazed human being looking to do the right thing in a market place driven by big brands, corporate companies, and small margins. Like everyone else we are making our product overseas, but we are doing it differently.
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.
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 D. Wave Tribe Founder One Ocean, One Planet, One Tribe.
PS. No offense to boogie borders, you are welcome to the Wave Tribe too!