Shaping the Future of Surfing with Mud Rat’s Mushroom Board Eco-Revolution

by Kailani Wetherell for Sustainable Surf. 19 April 2024.

Amelia Martin’s journey started with a simple desire: to clean up our oceans and protect surfers. Tired of seeing pollution in the waters where she rode, she decided to turn trash into surfboards. But soon she realized that recycling wasn’t the answer, so she shifted gears, learning to craft boards from eco-friendly materials.

From shaping in her garage to founding Mud Rat, we sat down with Amelia’s to dive ito her incredible story, which is one of innovation and determination. Fueled by a passion for the planet, she sought healthier alternatives and connected with experts to make it happen. Based in central Connecticut, Mud Rat is making waves, offering sustainable surfboards that ride the tides of change. Dive deeper into the mushroom surfboard revolution below!


This all started when I went on a trip in highschool to Haiti. I was always big into the environment and loved surfing, I always knew how bad the pollution problem was but it is different seeing photos online to actually standing in it. I had never experienced mass pollution first hand. The turning point for me was looking down at it all and knowing the trash did not come from here, the ocean brought it over for someone else to deal with. It was unfair, I wanted to do something about it.

I came back to the states and my first plan was to make a surfboard out of ocean trash. My goal was to find a way to clean up while being able to give something back, like a tool for people to enjoy the ocean (surfboard). I found out that wasn’t a good plan because 1. You need to melt the plastic in order to get it to be a uniform correct shape, and that creates air pollution 2. You can never replicate it since its different plastics and 3. When it breaks it is going straight back into the wasteful loop.

I gave up on that idea but from that, I taught myself how to make surfboards, because I couldn’t make a new type of surfboard without first knowing how to do it normally. WELL, I didn’t expect to fall in love with shaping and making boards in my garage became my new obsession. It didn’t take long to find out what a dirty job it really is. The hypocrisy! I was working so hard to fight against solid waste pollution and surfboards are actively contributing to the problem, (and also giving me asthma).

Shaping was what I wanted to do and still want to do, but I couldn’t ignore the problem they were creating. There are people working to make bioresins and alternatives to fiberglass, but (at the time) there was nothing really going on in terms of sustainable innovations for the blank. So we started there and decided to try using my mycelium. Mostly for lack of money and the fact our workspace was my college apartment closet, but it worked out great! It has now been 6 years since the Haiti trip and we are on route to complete our first full scale shapeable prototype of our mycelium blank this spring.


Definitely 100%. This all started as a deep hatred for solid waste pollution and later an incredible amount of disappointment in the surf industry. My 2 passions are finding ways to solve solid waste pollution and shaping. I have no doubt there will be a new standard of environmentally friendly blanks and I plan on having Mud Rat continue to be a part of finding these solutions for the good of people, the planet, and surf.


Why not! We would not be surfers or shapers without the ocean, it is our job to protect it- if not for the good of the environment, then so we can keep doing what we love.


We use mycelium (or the ‘roots of mushrooms’) mixed with our natural substrate to create our mushroom blanks. While the substrate and type of mushroom is very important, the most important thing to get it right is how you grow it. To make anything out of mycelium you must first grow it, then bake it to kill the mushroom spores. Before that growing phase, you can do so many little things to change the outcome of the final product. To how much water you add, how much CO2, what temperature you grow it in- it all plays a role.

Mud Rat is only making the blanks, while I do make surfboards, we are not planning on becoming a custom board shop. We are making our product to be easily incorporated into any shapers process- no additional steps, just shape it like a PU or EPS blank. We know getting sustainable shaping materials like this can be tricky (and costly) sometimes and our goal is to mainstream it so any shaper from pro to hobbyist can get in on making Ecoboards.


Our biggest ‘rule’ for creating our mycelium blanks is everything needs to be non-toxic, eco-friendly. We thought about adding bits and pieces of all every material under the sun because synthetic materials, while horrible, have incredible properties. Even though the majority of the blank would be natural, adding components that are not eco-friendly defeats the purpose of what we are trying to create. It is more challenging to work using only biomaterials but this wasn’t supposed to be easy and in the end it will be worth it.


When I first started getting into shaping boards I did a lot of research before I actually bought all the materials. I saw a lot of brands coming out with sustainable surfboards and after figuring out that was an option, I wanted my first boards to be sustainable too. When I was looking for materials I kept noticing the Ecoboard logo coming up. I started looking into the project, all the qualified materials, and used that as my road map. So, I would say I came across it through seeing the logo everywhere, and then doing a bit of research.


Aside from the incredible support the team working on Ecoboard has given Mud Rat, being a part of this community and getting the chance to see what other people in the space are doing has helped us problem solve and get motivated when we hit roadblocks. We are still working to officially become a qualified material and we are looking forward to the day we get to serve the Ecoboard shapers and beyond.


With every new addition of materials to the Ecoboard Project we are taking steps to solve the ultimate issue of toxic surfboards. Not only are we creating more solutions, we are making sustainability more accessible by giving shapers a range of sustainable options to buy that fit their goals and needs. Being a part of the Ecoboard Project not only lets the surfers and shapers that value sustainability know we are here and we are an option, we can point attention to Ecoboards and the other awesome materials coming through. Right now Ecoboards are the standard of sustainability in surfing, being part of this allows Mud Rat to be a part of that wave of change.


Right now we are on track to complete our first prototype this spring (woo!). Our goal is to manufacture and ultimately integrate ourselves as part of the surfboard supply chain, so shapers all over the world can buy us just like you would another blank company. We want to be part of the new standard everyone at Ecoboard is creating for surfboards. We also hope the success of using mycelium as a biomaterial in surfboards will inspire others to consider biomaterials as solutions to other everyday materials. If all goes to plan, that time will be next year in 2025- but things are unpredictable at this stage in the game, so we will keep yal up to date! 


As a product, I hope Mud Rat inspires everyone to look at solutions and sustainability a little bit differently. The earth has a lot to offer in terms of alternatives, you just need to dig around, get creative, and find them.

As Mud Rat, I hope this inspires anyone who feels stuck or like they can’t accomplish their goals or dreams to want it bad enough. Mycelium surfboards have been made before but no one continued it long term because while there was promise, there was too much work to do to get it right. We are not there yet, but we will be. The road definitely isn’t straight and there’s a lot of bumps, potholes, road kill, whatever, but stay on it and work hard at what you’re passionate about, I promise you will get there.


Hi! I had a lot of stories and stuff in my head so each paragraph is a different one! Let’s start here.. So I have actually been a big fan of the Ecoboard project for a while. When I first started making boards my dream was to one day become one of the Ecoboard shapers on their website and get those little rice paper logos sent to me haha. I actually made my first project proposal (the trash surfboard) in 2019 and wrote a whole paragraph about Ecoboards and why sustainability in surf was so important. Funny how things turn out.

#2. A lot of people ask about the name Mud Rat and where it came from. Outside of surf, skate, snow sports; of course because I feel like we all have pretty weird names out here. Well, one time I was dirty in the way I had been gardening and my friend who called me a lot of odd names chose mud rat for the day. Maybe it was a compliment, probably not because I think he also said ‘gross’ when he initially saw me but either way it stuck in my head and I was like “wow that would be an awesome name for something”. So fast forward a few months I am writing my first grant proposal to UConn to get some money to make surfboards. The application said every project needed a name. This was my time to shine. I suggested Mud Rat and my research partner said that it was disgusting and the answer was no. We went with a choice that would definitely get us money, “Project Clean Surf”. I hated it so much. They had come up with it because I kept fighting for rat and we were running out of time. I knew I would keep this going after my partner had left so I waited. The same day they left and I decided to turn the project into a business, I changed the name on everything. It was probably the most satisfying moment of my life, I contacted anything from UConn that had the name project clean surf and told them it’s Mud Rat now you need to change it. I always wonder if that person remembers they called me that, or if they see my business and think “ew that’s an awful name”.

#3. When I decided I wanted to learn to shape boards I was a MANIAC, I mean, reaching out to every shaper under the sun to learn something from them. One of the first shapers I got into was Matt Kechele. I once DMed him with a massive paragraph, I think asking for advice, or something but he didn’t respond (reasonable, I wouldn’t respond either I’m sure my message was weird). After a few months of him not responding I sent ANOTHER large paragraph. This time I was like “I started shaping boards, I’m gonna be great, blah blah” I assumed he would never read it so I went wild with emotion about my hopes and dreams. Well he responded a couple months later with an incredibly encouraging message, he’s an awesome guy, but I reread what I had sent him- it was the most aggressive, passionate message from a stranger I have ever seen. There were probably tears coming down my face writing it. It’s like if you were venting on text to a number you know wasn’t in service, but the number was Matt Kechele. Anyway, I apologized, he never responded again, I deleted my instagram account and I occasionally think of that interaction and want to puke. Matt if you are reading this, I pray to God you don’t remember any part of that, I am so sorry. 

#4. My set ups for shaping surfboards have been concerning and disturbing to say the least. I started in luxury (the garage of my parents condo), using a flipped over folding table with 2 pieces of wood duct taped to it as a stand. When they sold that and moved to Florida, I stayed in CT and lived year round in my college houses. I was in charge of finding a house to rent my senior year and the only thing I cared about was having a garage. I found one, right on a lake and before any of my roommates agreed to move in I told them I was converting half the garage to be my workspace. Another jank set up, I taped that plastic painters tarp up to make a little room and keep all the foam from getting sucked into our washing machine. During Christmas break all my roommates went home and I was leaving the next day to go to Florida. I decided that night I was going to glass my blank, using poly resin. I only used epoxy and EPS before and assumed the smell and everything would be the same. I was dead wrong, our entire house smelled like chemicals and death. The garage was attached to the house, I had to go to the airport in the morning, and my roommates were coming back for New Years in a few days. I freaked the fuck out and after hours on reddit they all said the only thing I could do was air out the house. I slept with all the windows and the garage door open that night, it was below freezing, I felt the brain cells actively dying. The board didn’t dry because of the temperatures also so I left it on the porch and it proceeded to give off a resin scent for the next few months. A cherry on top was we also had mice- so when it was time to move out and clean up my space, I found several corpses covered in foam dust. To my former roommates: thank you for letting me turn our garage into a liability so I could continue my boards. Love yall!

#5. The night I finished my first surfboard I drove an hour and a half to the beach at sunset to test it. I went with my friend to Deep Hole in Rhode Island, which is all rocks, no sand. We got out into the water and started flopping around with it for an hour. Aside from the waves being ass, we are average level surfers, nothing crazy. I caught maybe 2 waves and after an hour we called it, but those two waves…damn. I don’t think I have ever felt that amount of pride in my life that I built this and it works. I don’t know why but I thought it would sink or something. I saw my friend (above average surfer) Delia the next day and I was freaking out, so excited to tell her about it. I told her “guess what it worked, it floats!!”. She looked at me with the most blank expression and neutral voice and said “yea why wouldn’t it, surfboards float”. Haha I always like thinking about that but that first board is actually my go-to and favorite surfboard to ride, whenever I go out I bring it. It has a hair glassed in by accident so even if something happens to it a piece of me will always be with it.

Follow along with Amelia and Mud Rat’s journey into the world of sustainable surfing by checking them out on Instagram @mudratsurf.