Full disclosure: I wasn’t at ASR. Condolences to anyone who was. The physical wounds heal quickly, sure – calloused hands from high-fiving and a slight ringing in the ears. But the mental trauma of the trade show fades only with time.
Still I’m going to comment on it as though I were there. In my opinion, the best thing to see at ASR this year was booth #1036 and the debut of Green Foam Blanks, whose highly-touted answer to the pending doom of Earth is recycled surfboards. By partnering with Just Foam, a blower in Oceanside, these greentrepreneurs* now provide a 65% recycled foam blank. Using the scraps from shaping bays and CAD machines, they mix a proprietary foam blend that Matt Biolos, Rusty and Channel Islands have all been caught fooling around with. Saucy.
But the Holy Grail of sustainable production is a “closed loop system,” or one in which the product can, at the end of its useful life, be seamlessly reintroduced as an input in the next production process. This way resources can be passed around like a good book that’s purchased only once but enjoyed by many readers (i.e. rubber becomes tires become shoes become building insulation…). So the founders of Green Foam Blanks are also recycling old surfboards for use in, among other things, asphalt as road pavement. If you surf and aren’t some sort of a villain, like The Joker, then this is amazing news. Even though surfers try to act environmental and groovy sometimes, the manufacturing of boards and wetsuits is a real Sally Hemmings in our closet. How exciting that we can finally clean up the act. And I saved the best part for last: the blanks from Green Foam have ground-up stringer bits in them that give the boards a peppery look all their own – like when Firewires first came out and the lamination was that unsettling medium between polyurethane translucence and epoxy white. Really awkward. It was like a black eye on prom night, but they owned it, and now you know a Firewire from a hundred yards off and think, “Hey, that’s a Firewire. Wow. I think more highly of its owner now.” So maybe recycled blanks will have that same effect.
*Portmanteau: a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms. “Greentrepreneurs,” for instance, is a mix of Green and Entrepreneurs. It’s a fantastic portmanteau – it is portmantastic.