Working together is a huge part of creating a better world, because the impact can be so much bigger and more positive. And when companies are making a difference through partnerships, it can inspire us to make decisions that help the environment at the same time. We’ll be profiling some of these cool businesses, and the first one is Wellington eco surfboard maker Organic Dynamic.

With the right Wellington wind, the Houghton Bay surf break puts up decent waves. But when Jack Candlish was catching them a few years ago, there was a very different reason conditions weren’t ideal. He noticed the water “smelled and tasted gross” after heavy rain, later discovering a landfill up the road was releasing waste into a stream and then the ocean. And whenever the industrial designer, whose business at the time was signmaking, damaged a board, it was part of a realisation that the boards weren’t that sustainable, either.

“I’d regularly damage boards and use the tools at work to repair them. I used to hate the fumes from the polyester resin and rushing to get the board done before the next swell. So I started making boards from wood and bio resin.”

It was the start of Organic Dynamic, which as the company’s website says, makes custom surfboards for local surfers from locally sourced, environmentally friendly materials.



It’s no coincidence that the word local crops up so often – Candlish’s partnerships are all about finding answers to sustainability problems from within the community.

The sustainability problems he’s addressing are finding more eco alternatives to polyurethane foam and the polyester resin coating used in much of surfboard manufacture – and the product lifecycle. These materials are toxic and can’t biodegrade or be recycled, he says, adding a 3kg board will emit 300kg of CO2 in its lifetime.


Video produced by Jack Chapman.


As he explains in a TEDx talk last year, his two key partners are Kiwi blokes who “showed me it’s about developing local solutions for local problems, while having a holistic perspective on everything that comes in and out of the business, and how all these little transactions affect the people in their local community, the environment and their bottom line.”

One partner is a dairy farmer who grows and supplies paulownia wood, which is light and strong and doesn’t rot in salt water. The other is Poly Palace, which collects expanded polystyrene foam from Wellington businesses, keeping it out of landfills and selling it to companies like Organic Dynamic. Both companies entered last year’s low Carbon Challenge – check out Poly Palace’s entry – a sustainable answer to the affordable housing problem.

In the TEDx talk, Candlish says his vision is to work with board shapers around New Zealand who might currently be importing ‘blanks’ – oversize boards they bring in and shape for locals – but want a more sustainable alternative.



Organic Dynamic coats the boards in a plant-based resin instead of an epoxy resin, and even saves the paulownia offcuts to make collateral like business cards and vouchers, and the fibreglass trims to make fins, he says in the talk.

Organic Dynamic proudly burns the Gold Ecoboard certification mark into its boards – this independent, international accreditation is designed to assure consumers that the board is made using more sustainable materials, sourced from responsible supply chains, and made by a board builder with improved manufacturing processes.



The certifier, Ecoboard Project, says it is focused on reducing carbon footprints, increasing the use (and reuse) of renewable, recycled and upcycled inputs, and reducing toxicity within the surfboard manufacturing process.

Candlish says he hasn’t had his boards carbon tested, but would like to think they are almost carbon neutral.

The cause of cleaner oceans and waterways is also getting a boost from Organic Dynamic, because the business gives 1% of its sales to Sustainable Coastlines through the One Percent Collective .

Photography: Jack Chapman