Ecoboard Shaper Highlight 002: Buni Boards
by Kailani Wetherell for Sustainable Surf
“As much as the ocean gives, it will take. Simply put, do better.”
How seven early 20 year olds came together to make boards that make a difference.
Buni. Yes, like the animal. I was confused too, but after having the privilege of talking to Parker Conrad, Co-Founder of Buni Boards, one thing became clear, this isn’t your ordinary surfboard company.
With a sustainable focused board shaping collective founded, owned, and operated by seven early 20 year olds all under the age of 23, Buni is a first of its kind. A measure of how impactful the younger generation can be in responding to the environmental issues posed to us all and a model for how we’re able to learn from those who came before us.
Buni’s story starts in the heat of COVID, August 2020, in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Surfboard prices are high, but once you have one, you want ten more right? So what’s the solution for us surfers who can never get enough?
Naturally… you build your own surfboard(s).
And that’s exactly what Oregon-natives, Mason Crawford and Parker Conrad, decided to do. Don’t be fooled, a feat of this kind doesn’t come without hesitation. But with an 8’4”blank, scrap 2x4s, all natural lighting, zero power tools, plastic sheeting, friends that were willing to help, and some pissed off parents later, Buni’s first shaping bay came to life. Where does the name come from you may ask? Well thanks to Aaron Bernhard’s incredible design skills and the adorable rabbit population plaguing the South Cannon Beach area, Buni just made sense.
After learning how to make a few more boards under a local shaper in the area, Parker began to learn the tools and then began to learn more of the industry. It was here he realized that surfboard manufacturing is traditionally very toxic to our blue planet and there needed to be a change.
Upon meeting Frederick Boulton, an East Coast Surfer from New York with an intense focus on sustainability, the two decided they would go all in to build boards with personality that come with minimal trash in the production process. The two visited fellow ECOBOARD pioneer Ry Harris, who was doing a shaping demo in Portland at Cosube Surf Shop. Ry gave them two upcycled resin coasters and an ongoing inspiration for board builders around the world, leading the way for eco-focused innovation.
In the years to follow, Buni began to grow and go legit. After meeting Beck Tankersley and Garner Evans, two Texas transplant surfer/skaters, they spent the year dialing in their eco-processes. From conception, Buni has only used bio-resin focusing on building boards that last. This included minimizing excess resin, upcycling waste into coasters, shot glasses, plant pots, etc. turning used brushes into artwork, and not letting any foam or glass be thrown away, but instead be saved for repairs and recycled at EPS recycling centers.
In 2022, Buni applied for the ECOBOARD project and later joined. Parker explains that ”the ECOBOARD logo seen on boards is so much more than just a logo. It represents the future, and a better one at that. It stands for hope, it stands for change. A group of board builders that are not okay with the status quo. The planet is precious, resources are limited. The ECOBOARD Project challenges us to be better. It’s what surfing is all about.
For us, being an ECOBOARD builder goes deeper than the materials used. As a business, it guides how we operate. It has helped us educate our customers to think twice about what goes behind the items in their everyday lives. It has led to us hosting or attending monthly beach cleanups. From the ECOBOARD Project, came our Swell Project. An effort to perpetuate surfing and sustainable boards within restricted communities. Currently, we are fundraising and collecting boards to support surfers in Oregon and Cuba. Not only will we be able to provide boards with a lower carbon footprint, but we will also be teaching ding repairs and similar practices to extend the lifespan of surfboards. Everyone should be able to enjoy the outlet of surfing that we are so lucky to experience, no matter the circumstance.”
As we enter right in the blissful chaos that is the holiday season celebrating the value that brings us together, we here at Sustainable Surf are especially thankful for those who have joined the ECOBOARD Project. A special thank you to Buni Boards for putting an emphasis on what it means to bring sustainability into the surfing industry and a huge thanks to Parker Conrad, Frederick Boulton, Garner Evans, Beck Tankersley, Josiah Hirsch, and everyone else who makes up Buni Boards. We’re absolutely stoked to have you guys as part of the ECOBOARD family.
Without you, none of this would be possible.