Innovators from Two Cycles Team Up to Make Surfing Sustainable

April 05, 2016

by Eleanor Greene

What happens when two innovators collaborate? They can make history.

That’s what Ecovative, from System Challenge: Fabric of 2013, and Connora Technologies, from Green Chemistry cycle of 2014 are doing. Those companies, along with Enjoy Handplanes, Entropy Resins and Patagonia, have teamed up to create the world’s first biodegradable handplanes.

For those not as immersed in surfing or body surfing lingo, a handplane is a small fin-like board that attaches to the hand to help body surfers gain speed and ride the waves with skill and ease. They’re generally the only piece of equipment used by bodysurfers, besides a wetsuit, so it’s important that they work well and hold up in unpredictable ocean conditions.

After the handplanes were made, the teams got perspective from a bodysurfer and owner of Sea Craft Supply Co., Sean Starky.

Enjoy Handplanes - Patagonia from Steve Cachero Studios on Vimeo.

“I’ve broken countless surfboards, and countless handplanes. I’ve ridden this on the north shore of Oahu, I’ve ridden this at Wedge’s [Newport Beach, California] last swell, and this thing is more durable than anything I’ve ever used. And that’s the most amazing part, you get stoked on where this thing comes from, and then it rides amazing and it’s amazingly durable,” Starky said.

In the video, Ed Lewis, co-founder of Enjoy Handplanes, making compostable handplanes is a challenge because by nature they’re constantly submerged in ocean water. The core of the boards that have been developed through this collaboration are made from Ecovative’s mushroom-based materials, which are compostable.

“In order to solve that problem, we teamed up with Connora, because they have this resin that’s got a chemical zipper that lets you take something that you made in plastic, and lets you soak it a biological chemical with vinegar, and then it lets you dissolve it, save all the plastic, reuse it in injection molding, then take the core of it and compost it,” Lewis explained.

Rey Banatao, LAUNCH innovator and CEO of Connora Technologies said that this collaboration made sense with the environmental vision he has for his company’s products.

“It’s a natural match for us to want to work with together and with the new Enjoy Handplane with Ecovative, we’re giving these things an end-of-life story.”