"ALLOW THIS MOMENT"
Ashley Lloyd Thompson has made a commitment to creating and shaping surfboards with sustainable materials. The materials she currently uses include bio-based epoxy resin made by Entropy Resins but was introduced to shaping with conventional foam, fiberglass, and polyester resin. "All of Ashley's boards are ECOboard verified through Sustainable Surf Organization. For a Gold Level Verified board, you can use post-consumer EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam and high-bio content Entropy Resin. For those who prefer PU (polyurethane) foam, boards are glassed with Entropy resin and are Level One Verified. Flax cloth, an alternate material made from a flax plant is another contributing part of the composition of Ashley's surfboards and story that she is thrilled to use in the construction of boards, adding strength and dampening aspects of glide and grace when using recycled EPS.”
Ashley is a mother, wife, musician, surfer, surf instructor, and female surfboard shaper living in Santa Cruz.
GET TO KNOW YOUR BOARD'S ECO IMPACT
I can’t help but see within myself the curiosity of how far we can or will go in order to start to be a part of something that will inspire others to change their habits & old ways of thinking for the better of humankind and the place we call home. I find myself coming back to the same questions.
How do we all protect the invaluable and limited resources of the earth?
How do we address our consumerist tendencies?
Is there any room for regeneration?
How do we insert ourselves into the conversation of Eco-Activism & Conservation?
How do we deepen our connection to the ocean while still respecting it?
Although surfing has been around for decades, we are now becoming mindful of the environmental and ecological issues the sport is creating - especially with more people taking up the sport. A few well-known issues are the carbon footprint of surfboards, wetsuits, swimwear, sunscreen production, and traveling to and from surf spots around the world. As it pertains to manufacturing, what kind of materials are used to make these products and what is their ecological impact on the earth? How toxic are the materials to the humans producing them? How do we reduce waste from the production of these products? How do we recycle or dispose of them properly when they are no longer useful to us in order to reduce pollution? Beyond industrial materials used, we can also clearly see the impact that surf travel and tourism have created highlighting issues like emissions & CO2 footprint, immersion & cultural assimilation, wildlife conservation & ecosystem fragility, gentrification, localism, and surf colonialism.
In the past few decades, some surfboard and surf accessory companies have made great strides in order to lessen their impact on production, while others have not changed at all. Some shapers prefer to recycle and shape old boards instead of buying new materials. Some may argue that performance is compromised if they were to use alternative materials.
Some alternative materials used in surfboards include recycled foam/Envirofoam (from brands like Marko Foam & ECORE), bamboo, mushroom, algae, biobased tree sap/pine-oil based epoxy resin (Entropy Resins), flax fiber, hemp fiber, sugar beet oil, wood (timber) and bio-resin sealants. Ecoboard has an extensive list of the qualifying materials they accept for their project.
When did you start surfing?
When I was a little kid, although not sure when exactly… started out building sandcastles etc. and it was a progression into the ocean after my older brother who I can remember started when he was 7.
Can you tell me about when you shaped your first board and what inspired it?
2002. I know because I wrote it on the stringer! Maybe I’ll start doing that again.
My boyfriend at the time, Ethan Brostedt, got me a blank as a gift, knowing that I was learning a bit on how to shape with our friend Danny Tarampi in Malibu. Ethan also shaped his first board around the same time. I have a memory of paddling them out for the first time together at 1st point, excited that they both could float.
At the time, did you have shapers that you admired or looked up to?
When you started making boards with Sustainable Surf Green certified materials, did you think you’d have the success that you have today? Can you expand upon your passion for using alternative materials for your boards?
I hoped that I would, and let the hope for positive change be my guide. It is always a little risky and challenging to use new materials. That’s been one of the resistance points for a shaper to try new materials. We all would prefer to make less of an impact on the environment. It is a risk to invest time and money on new materials, riding on the hope that you will get an awesome end product.
We made the first rounds of boards for myself so I could test out how everything worked and held up. We have developed a good process for using the materials, although it does take more time to make them, and with the aesthetic I prefer. I am so happy the boards are of amazing quality and we strive to continue on the path of lessening the footprint we make on the environment. I am grateful for my glasser, Tyler Hopkins from Locus surfboards, who has worked a lot with me on developing our product and using flax cloth. He does a great job.
Of the boards you’ve made, which is currently your favorite to ride?
That changes with my mood. Today’s favorite would be a smurfboard I made for a dear friend. Yesterday was my Sweetspeed, a fast longboard.
When did you start making music? Did you study it in school or in college?
I picked up the guitar when I was 18 or 19, and started studying music theory in school soon after. I love writing songs and remember writing when I was a little girl.
What were your first experiences with surfing? Competitiveness? Women in the water?
Would you mind telling us a little bit about your surf instruction?
I’ve been teaching since I was 17! I’ve been taking a bit of a break from teaching these days, and putting my water hours into self-surfing, and my work hours into the new company I’m starting, Unfurling.
Where are your favorite places to surf?
Uncrowded point breaks would be my favorite.
How do you balance your life while raising children, running a business, and still making time to enjoy surfing?
I have been on a mission to stay in touch with me instead of busying around. I realized I was burning the candle at both ends. To be the best mom and healthiest person I can be, I need to also replenish and take care of myself. I wake up and meditate. I work on self-love and compassion and ask how I can best serve. When I’m grounded this gives me grace, confidence, good decision making, and better time management.
Who are your biggest influences or heroes in surfing?
I love seeing people charge with grace and style.
What’s your after-surf routine? Do you have one?
Warm up and continue Unfurling. I have been inventing new ways to use my multipurpose changing wrap.
Just for fun, because I love food… What are your favorite foods to bring to the beach or on a surf adventure?
Peanut butter and apples
Anything else you want to add?
Thank you for being.
All Photos by Kaili Reynolds
Tyler Hopkins, Locus Surfboard's Website
Articles on Female shapers:
Sustainable Surf Resource
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