How Imported Indonesian Marble is Cleaning Up Our Beaches – Upcycling Palettes
Spotlight on local artist: Aaron Patterson
We truly are a global economy, and intuitive artist like Aaron Patterson of Redondo Beach prove this on a regular basis, and is passionate about cleaning up our beaches through his ingenuous way of Upcycling Palettes. As inhabitants of an ocean community, we tend to get a little defensive when we see tourists descend on our community over holidays. Toting their New-In-Box beach tents and plastic-wrapped, straight-from-the-store-shelf shovels and buckets, our green friendly eco-loving red flags begin to rise up their figurative pole in a hurry.
Aside from walking the beach and picking up trash, what can everyday citizens who actually give a damn about the fragile ecosystem do about it?
Local artist Aaron Patterson has many solutions, and many of them are more attainable than you might think. From encouraging simple repurposing of basic household products to creating custom crafted wood surf and skate boards that last a lifetime through upcycling pallettes, Aaron has found ways to upcycle, recycle, and repurpose one man’s dump pile into another man’s work of art.
“You know, this palette was used for transporting material and now it’s used for transporting you.”
Below is an interview I recently conducted with this forward thinking wood worker, and I hope his initiatives inspire you to take some positive steps, whether they be big or small, mother nature will thank you.
“What first got you interested in making wood surf and skate boards?
I’m a word worker by trade. I’m a carpenter and I build cabinetry and I thought it would be fun. But living here in California, I thought it would be cool to build something that has to do with where I was living.
Where do you get the wood for your skate and surf boards?
Almost everything of what I use is from a job site. It’s all recycled wood. You know if i’m out and about and see a piece of wood that looks really interesting I might purchase it, but for the most part it’s stuff that i’m already using.
So you are big into recycling
What is one of your favorite projects?
Well I really like the last surfboard i did for a friend of mine. I was remodeling his house and he really wanted a surfboard because i had made one for a doctor friend of his. That was really fun, he’s a good friend of mine so every time I go over to his house I get to see it hanging on the wall. It was made of mahogany and cedar and walnut, a lot of different cool woods I had in the shop.
So your surfboards are decorative, but your skateboards are function, correct?
Yes skateboards are functional art, that’s what I like to say. You can hang it on the wall and look at it and enjoy it’s beauty and then you can throw it on the ground and skateboard around on it.
Locals are usually a unique combination of being green friendly but cost conscious. On one hand, it seems like selling wood boards would be a no brainer, but what would you say to those green-loving boarders who can’t justify the cost?
It’s something you will have for the rest of your life so if you are into the art of it and appreciate the art of what someone has done then that’s worth it right there. So if you really enjoy something you want to have it. It’s not something a high school kid would want to go thrash on the curb. I first designed the boards with specific kinds of trucks called carver trucks and so when there are no waves you can literally jump on the board and you can surf up and down the street.
Like a long board?
Well longboard or short board, whatever I feel like creating. But you can take a board over to those hills in PV and you can really you know, it’s like snow boarding. You can control how you turn, you can control your speed. Or, you can take it over to RAT beach parking lot and you can just surf around on it. And it’s great exercise, too. I can’t run on concrete anymore because it hurts my knees but I can get on a skateboard and my feet never touch the ground. I can skate 6 miles and have a lot of fun doing it, and burn a lot of calories! So you know living at the beach, everyone is health conscious and wants to be out and about doing stuff so it’s a great way to get out and show off your new skate board but get around at the same time
Do your boards last longer than a store bought board?
Yeah because the ones you get at the store are plywood and kids typically break those doing tricks and stuff but if you buy a board at the store and you can get a sector 9 board that’s great, it’s only going to cost a couple hundred bucks whereas my decks cost about $500 but they are real wood and they are hand-crafted and they are ALL one of a kind no board is the same so if you have something like that you have a work of art that is one of a kind and unique in and of itself.
And would you say these boards that you create perform at the same level as a store bought?
Boards perform to the level of the user, so yes. I could take one of my boards and go to a hill and bomb that hill and carve it up like anybody can on another board, it just depends. My boards can be heavier or I can make them thin and light and put a lot of coats of product on them to make them strong and flexible and light. They are not like boards you are going to ollie around on, they are for enjoying a nice smooth long ride.
It seems like a lot of green products are stereotypically tied to either eco-yuppy people or the patchouli-infused hippy, what’s your usual target audience?
I think green products are starting to appeal to everyone in a sense. Being here by the beach where we live, when I come home from work I park the car and I’m either on a bicycle, in shorts and flip flops, or I’m on a skateboard, or I’m just walking. It’s really nice to have something like (my boards) to just get around town on. I’m not going to turn on my car and run to the store to grab something . . . I’ve got my backpack! So I think people are a lot more conscious of the environment especially living here by the beach because living here by the ocean you don’t want to see cigarettes floating around or McDonald’s bags. So it’s people, not just older people, it’s everyone.
I know you are a contractor so I’m sure you deal with a lot of extra stuff, are you big into recycling?
Yes all these boards are typically recycled wood. You know i get a lot of palettes from Indonesia and they make a lot of those palettes out of teak and mahogany and just crazy hardwoods you just don’t see here in america. They are built like that to support the heavy stone that comes from that part of the world, so they don’t use the typical pine palette wood you see around here. So I keep those palettes and I break them down and use the wood from those and it’s really neat because you can get a board that has nail holes in it, and it’s all glued together and you know, this palette was used for transporting material and now it’s used for transporting you.
Not everyone rides boards. What advice would you give to the everyday citizen to make the area a little cleaner and friendly to mother nature?
First of all, to recycle. It’s nice when you at least see people making an effort, and I think people around us try to keep things clean. We want to play in a nice pretty ocean and nice pretty beaches.
Second, gain some knowledge as to how you are impacting the environment. It’s easy to go to the store and just buy some water bottles. Those aren’t recycled, they are down cycled. They are made into other things, but if you buy plastic water bottles, new ones have to be made. And the less we buy things like that the less they have to be made. Out in the pacific ocean there is a 10 square mile of plastic garbage that is collecting together like a big eddy in the ocean. And it’s a lot of stuff that might have been down cycled.
And that’s the point. The plastic we already have that we’ve made over 50 years, we have it! If we down cycle it and use it for other things that’s great. I try to use metal water containers because if it ever breaks at least the metal will get melted down and used the same way. But plastic, people just go and keep buying plastic things that are made for one time use. They have to be made again!
And if you do get into surfing, say you moved here from the midwest and think “I want to be a surfer” don’t go buy a brand new surfboard, it might look cool, but learn how to surf on an old surfboard. And reuse the surfboard. Maybe it gets broken or you ding it up and it gets waterlogged. But a surfboard is another thing that can be down cycled.”