There’s no way around it: We’re grappling with some big environmental problems, including the health of our oceans. But the guys at Bureo Skateboards want to give you a reason for optimism amid all the depressing news. We all can do something, they believe, and what they’re doing is building a better skateboard.
“We want people to know that there are solutions,” Bureo Skateboards co-founder Ben Kneppers says. “A lot of it is a pretty dark, grim view of the oceans, and it is the reality – there are some major concerns for what’s facing the oceans. But we’re trying to add some color to that and some hope.”
“These types of products and this type of thinking is what we see as the way forward. We want to make people aware and make a shift in the way they’re living.”
A shift toward sustainability on a high-style, eco-conscious skateboard? We’re in. Let’s ride.
The story Bureo begins in Australia. Ben was Down Under for his job as a sustainability and environmental impact consultant. He started rooming with another guy from the U.S. Northeast, David Stover, who worked in finance. The two became fast friends. Kevin Ahearn, a friend of David’s from Lehigh University, came to visit, and the three dudes connected over their shared interests in the ocean, the environment, surfing and skateboarding. Typical beach bums, right?
The guys stayed friends even after Ben accepted a new position at a nonprofit in Chile. It was there that he started taking a harder look at an issue that had been nagging at him for a while: waste and the oceans.
“It’s something we’d always found, traveling around the world and going to beaches, and seeing it everywhere – this consistent problem of plastic pollution in our oceans and coastal environments,” Ben says. “The two things that really connected were that there was a lack of understanding that this is a real issue. And in less developed areas, it wasn’t a high priority.”
The guys wanted to do something about it. They set out to form a company to not only create sustainable, eco-conscious products, but also draw attention to the problem of plastics in the sea.
Their talents and experience formed a perfect combination: Ben knows sustainability and engineering, David is the finance guy, and Kevin is a mechanical engineer with experience in product design.
The Big Jump
Let’s stop here for a minute, DesignGood-ers. Changing career paths can be a tough choice at any age. But for three guys on the edge of their elusive Dream Jobs, it was downright scary. These skater dudes, though, knew it was just the right thing to do.
“I was starting to work with some of the big names I’d always dreamed of working with, and it wasn’t feeling as rewarding as I’d hoped,” Ben says. “We wanted to create real change and provide a ripple effect for the industry around us – to show them and prove to them that there are better ways to do things.”