At Red Leaf we always try to tread lightly on this planet. We feel a close connection with the natural environment and a responsibility to minimise our impact upon it.
We are aware that the equipment we use as surfers is far from pure. We’re not really ones for getting up on a soap box and preaching about the environment and the effect we humans have on it, we just like to quietly get on and do our thing. But we’ve done our research and do know the typical modern surfboard is a toxic cocktail with a big carbon footprint.
For us surfing is simply good clean fun and we want to have that fun in the most sustainable way possible. So we turned our back on the world of foam blanks and petrol based resins, dug a little deeper and put in a bit more effort to create some of the most sustainable surfboards on the planet.
Wood is good: Nature’s perfect sustainable material, the only recognised genuine carbon neutral construction material. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and releases oxygen as they grow. Timber is totally biodegradable and renewable. We primarily use Paulownia grown right here in NZ from sustainably managed plantations. Paulownia has great strength to weight ratio, is fast growing and a joy to work with, making it the perfect choice for surfboards.
Plywood: We build our surfboards around a plywood framework. Plywood is great for this as it has immense strength due to the cross laminated layers. We only use plywood that has been certified as sustainable by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC.) We also make every effort to be as efficient as possible with its use, minimising the waste.
Laminating resin: We made a decision right from the start to only use epoxy bio-resins to laminate our boards. These resins utilise renewable plant based carbon instead of the usual petrol based carbon. They are partially made from the by-products of the paper and bio fuel industry and employ green chemistry production techniques which reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% when compared to the standard petroleum based epoxies. And it doesn’t stop there; with practically zero VOC emissions these resins pose no risk to human health or the environment during use. For us it was a no-brainer.
Fibreglass: We do use fibreglass on some of our boards but due to the high strength of our timber board construction we use significantly less than a standard PU or EPS board requires. Thanks to a new build technique we've developed, some of the boards in our range don’t require any fibreglass at all. So let us know if you want a foam and fibreglass free board and we can make that happen.
Reactive not proactive: We only make surfboards to order. We don’t hold stock. This means there is no waste of energy or materials. We only make a surfboard if it has a home to go to.
High performance: We’re not just making beautiful surfboards, that would be a bit pointless. We go through extensive design processes and testing on all of our boards to make sure they really perform. This means you’ll stay stoked on your wooden board for years to come.
Built to last: Our boards are built to super high levels of craftsmanship using only top quality materials. Therefore they can withstand the rigours of the line-up and have the potential to last a lifetime in the waves and not end up on the scrap heap.
Waste: We have refined the build process to be as efficient as possible to keep our waste streams to a minimum. However, some waste is unavoidable so we do our best to re-use or recycle it. For example, larger off-cuts from the surfboards get made into body surfing handplanes or nose and tail blocks. Shavings produced when dressing the timber get used as mulch in the garden or given to friends who use them as bedding for their free range chickens!