Surf or swim: Making waves with milk bottles

Cafe owners recycle plastic milk bottles to make hand planes for bodysurfers and swimmers

"The Bundoran bubble gets ya!" exclaims Noah Lane, an acclaimed Australian surfer now living in Bundoran, Co Donegal, and part of the town's growing surf community. Along with fellow surf instructors, musician Adam Cross and Gerald Arbuckle from Strabane, Lane is one of the three founders of the town's uber cool cafe Foam "celebrating everything coffee, food and coastal culture". Opening the cafe was a way of enabling the three friends to live in Bundoran and continue riding the waves when the Peak, its legendary surf spot, starts pumping.

They have also created an innovative way of making a hand plane (a wave riding device used by bodysurfers) by recycling waste plastic milk bottles from the cafe, each plane repurposing 10 milk bottles in a process that involves cleaning and melting to moulding and hand finishing, carried out in a workshop at the back of the cafe.

It all began when the lads approached friends Eoin McNally and Ian Walton of weareothers.com, "micro entrepreneurial" designers who collaborate on surf and environmental projects, with the idea of making something out of waste. McNally and Walton's experiments, prototyping and various projects have included making organic surf wax, hand foiled wooden fins, shaping surfboards and even a VW Transporter conversion into a fully fledged camper van "for all season escapes to the west coast".

What resulted is their circular design product using milk bottles, melted and moulded onto a cork deck pad and finished with a handmade strap mounted on brass threaded inserts that will appeal to everyone from sea swimmers to bodysurfers.

With sea swimming enjoying such a resurgence due to the pandemic, using a hand plane which allows for riding a wave faster, longer and with more control is one way of making a swim a little more exciting, especially for those who don’t necessarily want to take the time to learn how to surf or bodyboard.

According to Magic Seaweed, these surfers and others like them starting small food businesses in the town – conscious young people with a similar ethos – are changing what Bundoran looks and tastes like. And hand boarding is not only fun but encourages physical health and mental wellbeing. It gives getting on a plane a whole new meaning.

The planes sell for €85 on the Foam website, each one numbered and signed.#wastetowaves. foambundoran.com

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