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This Company Is Making the World’s First Leaf-Based Surfboard

Greenhouse Leaf Surfboard 0 Hero
Photo: Greenhouse Surfboards | Ken Cole

When it comes to the world of zero emissions, one wouldn’t think that surfboards would pose an issue. However, anything mass produced in factories using petroleum-based polymers can afford a sustainable alternative. With surfboards, a solution may be difficult to achieve. You need something that can float on and glide through water while changing direction on a dime if needed. 

Greenhouse Leaf Surfboard 1
Photo: Greenhouse Surfboards | Ken Cole

Since 2018, avid surfer Ken Cole has been striving towards sustainability. His Miwaukee-based brand Greenhouse Surfboards makes and shapes its boards by hand and has already obviated materials like carbon and fiberglass in favor of locally-sourced organic materials such as jute fiber, volcanic basalt (to replace fiberglass), old coffee bags from Milwaukee roasters, bio-resin, and repurposed wood. However, the company has still had to resort to using EPS foam for most of his boards. After discovering the durability of plant-based plates in the garbage, Cole was inspired to look for something similar that could give him the jump towards eliminating polymer foam entirely.

Greenhouse Leaf Surfboard 2
Photo: Greenhouse Surfboards | Ken Cole

Greenhouse tapped professors from both the Milwaukee School of Engineering and University of Illinois Chicago School of Industrial Design, as well as the Great Lakes Surf Craft Project, to help research and develop a surfboard made from palm leaves and combined with bio-based thermoset resin. The experiment was first tested on a skateboard, with fantastic results, and now Cole predicts that his company will have the world’s first leaf-based surfboard by the end of this summer. It will be a single fin pig longboard that stretches 9’6” and will feature the brand’s vintage-inspired aesthetic that channels icons like George Greenough and Dale Velzy. It will be built using computer-aided technologies and a cold-molding process.

To find out more about Greenhouse Surfboards, head over to the brand’s website and follow it on social media to view the progress on the upcoming leaf-based surfboard.