In the Beginning

We took a surf trip to Mexico in 2007; there were six of us 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, it was well overhead and the sets were building from the south with light off shore winds.

We ripped the lock off the Uhaul and began pulling out the mountain of board bags pilled 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 used to construct all those bags.” It got me thinking about all the years of surfing and the hundreds of surf products that I had purchased as my oceanic journey unfolded, how much plastic had I been personally responsible for and I started to wonder where were all those discarded items I had thrown away over the years—broken leashes, ripped bags, soiled socks?

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 socks, but where could I find clean surf products?

Wave Tribe was born in those moments of contemplation; 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. I took all those bags and put them next to each other, I wrote down what I thought were the best elements of each bag and I started thinking about material that could be used to replace all that plastic.

Hemp seemed like a wonderful alternative, it grows naturally without pesticides, is mold resistant, strong and durable, and most importantly biodegradable—at the end of its lifecycle it would go back into the earth and decompose, it wouldn’t rot in some landfill for the next thousand years. When I returned from my trip I started to do more research and found recycled and biodegradable padding.

I am currently working with a company on a vegetable based PE which would green the product even more. 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. The reality is 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 and how we buy.

It’s up to all of us to join this tribal movement and to recognize the importance of walking 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 bogie borders and chlorinated water.


Derek D