My dad taught me to bodysurf when I was in preschool. From that point I’ve always loved the freedom of having nothing between my body and the wave.

I feel the rush of the wave in its purest form when I’m out there on my own; the freedom to duck under a huge wave at the last possible moment gives me some idea of what it must feel like to be a seal. So when I found out that there’s a growing movement combining bodysurfing and sustainable design, I was instantly on board. Well, perhaps not literally, but you know what I mean.

Surfing and bodyboarding have been a favorite pastime of coastal dwellers around the world, but now there’s a greener, smaller and lighter alternative to try: handplaning.


Chris Anderson demonstrates bodysurfing with handplanes.

The appetite for handplanes have grown with a conscientious movement that aims to do something with old and broken surfboards. Surfboards by nature aren’t recyclable, so once their broken, they usually go to landfill or worse – they wind up as marine debris. This has been a growing problem awaiting a solution.

Chris Anderson, of the south coast of NSW, began raising awareness of the impacts of broken surfboards through his installation artwork the ‘1000 Surfboard Graveyard Project’. This project uses broken surfboards to look like tombstones, and has been touring Australia since 2012.

Of the 900-odd broken boards that didn’t go on tour with his installation, Anderson started carving handplanes.

Ecto handplanes

An Ecto handplane.

Handplanes are super fun, they let you assume positions on waves that I previously thought you needed a full-sized board for, and they also increase your speed and agility on the wave, allowing you to carve.

Combined with Anderson’s background in media art, Ecto Handplanes also sport awesome print designs.

Up-cycling surfboards as handplanes has become a real trend in surfing hotspots around the globe. International brands like Enjoy Handplanes, based in California, Japan and Hawaii that are making handplanes out of recycled surfboards, or sustainably-sourced timber.

You can also make your own; I’ve seen handplanes made out of old skateboards and plastic lids. There are heaps of ways to up-cycle anything that floats, and get hours of summertime bliss out of it. So instead of throwing out a broken surfboard into landfill, consider making the shift to handplaning as an eco-friendly alternative.