Switch Stance


Apr 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

It's no surprise that skateboarding—which is responsible for the existence of several hundred wooden-ramp-filled skate parks in America and the production of more than 200,000 wooden decks every month—is tough on forests. Enter Bob Burnquist, 28, a Brazilian-born, California-based pro skateboarder who cofounded the Action Sports Environmental Coalition (ASEC) in 2002. The nonprofit uses its street cred to convince board and park builders to choose sustainably grown materials surfaced with eco-friendly composites of water, recycled paper, and cashew oil.

In August 2002, Burnquist raised his effort to the international level with a Greenpeace benefit and skating competition in Manaus, Brazil. (Burnquist, who grew up in São Paulo, is one of Brazil's top skaters.) The event featured a ramp endorsed by the Bonn, Germany–based Forest Stewardship Council, an international agency that certifies sustainable forestry. This year, ASEC hopes to green up the Gravity Games and NBC's Action Sports Tour. It also plans to construct 20 new eco-friendly skate parks and adjacent organic gardens in at-risk communities. ASEC executive director Frank Scura says a key to continued success is leveraging its athletes' grom appeal. With 82 percent of America's nearly 12 million skaters 17 years old or younger, in an industry generating $5.2 billion annually, that could mean big bucks for the ASEC cause. "Everyone votes every day with their dollars, and we have a lot of influence on the youth," says Burnquist. "It's hard to change older people set in their ways, but these kids are going to be the leaders and CEOs of the future."

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