My Channel Island Al Merrick surfboard is one of my most prized possessions. This surfboard was given as a present to me for eighth grade graduation, and although I have since bought a couple different boards, my Al Merrick remains one of my favorites. Al Merrick is known as the most prestigious surfboard designing company and even sponsors such surfers as Kelly Slater, the most winning world champion surfer in the world.
While I was riding this particular board, my life concerns revolved around the incoming swells and the tides of the ocean. I was the prototypical “beach boy,” blind to the broader environment in which I lived. And then, suddenly, the surfing world screeched to a halt. Clark foam, the surfing world’s number one foam supplier shut down due to EPA (Environmental Protection Agencies) requirements. This had a two-fold effect on the surfing world. First, supply had significantly immediately ceased, causing surfboard suppliers to increase the prices of all surfboards and find new ways of building boards. Secondly, one of the most “environmentally conscious” demographics (the surfing community) recognized that their main tool harms the environment.
When the Clark Foam disaster occurred, I couldn’t help but look at my favorite possession differently. To understand the complaint about the foam manufacturer, one needs to understand the design of a surfboard. The surfboard is entirely constructed around the foam. Clark Foam manufactured the largest amount of foam “blanks”—as unshaped foam boards are called—and the process involves using a very toxic chemical known as Toluene Di Isocynate, which the EPA had regulations against. This foam is then shaped to the desired board’s specifications, a job that companies such as Channel Islands Al Merrick would perform, and then the foam is fiberglassed to make the end-product waterproof.
Therefore, the surfing industry went into a tailspin trying to invent a new way to design a surfboard, and my understanding of my favorite possession was forever changed. This anecdote shows the emphasis companies must pay to governmental regulations so that they are able to remain in operation.