Sundance Beach Takes a Green Approach to Santa Barbara’s Surf Culture


Alyssa Wall

Photo by Alyssa Wall

Photo Courtesy of mikebaird

The local retail shop Sundance Beach, known to buzz with its vibrant atmosphere, local charm and beach-vibe clothing racks, has added a new aspect to its culture: environmental friendliness. As the first retail clothing store in California to be certified under the Green Business Act, the surf store has adopted a policy of sustainability and has taken various “green” initiatives.

“I look for a surf shop that has passionate employees who are knowledgeable about not only their products, but also the sport itself and the local scene,” said Sancy Childers, a first-year biology major and surfer.

According to employees, the company’s three core values are authenticity, sustainability and experience. That means they are determined to serve you—Santa Barbara students and locals alike—showing you knowledge and passion the second you enter the store. “We’re all about providing the authentic surf atmosphere and really providing a good customer shopping experience. We look for staff that live authentic beach lifestyles, who are immersed in the surf culture and therefore knowledgeable about the products we offer,” said Sales Manager and long-time employee Drew Acosta.

Over the course of the last six to eight months, Sundance has revamped its recycling program, encouraged alternative transportation methods for its employees and now stocks various postconsumer and biodegradable products. These days, it seems environmental awareness is almost as trendy as the beach styles and gear Sundance provides.

“We cater towards the coastal lifestyle, primarily within the Santa Barbara region. We like providing accessories, clothes and shoes all within the surf culture, all the while taking pride in getting people prepped for the beach. We’re all about the authentic experience,” said Acosta.

In a beach-oriented area like Santa Barbara and the Isla Vista community, it is important for the brand to embody a dedication to California culture as well as the gorgeous coast it thrives off of.

Sundance has always been environmentally-aware; however, its certification as a Green Business has turned that awareness into a company policy. As a certified green retailer, the shop and its employees are required to meet strict standards. Recycling is mandatory, and accurate sorting and composting is expected. As surfers, the Sundance community benefits entirely from the beaches and environment of Santa Barbara. Now, they have made it their goal to give back to that environment.

Many products they have recently stocked are made of environmentally friendly materials

“We c.arry a lot of clothing that is biodegradable. Many items are made from recycled cotton and polyester,” said Nora Nguyen, Sundance employee and fourth-year biology major at Santa Barbara City College. Even some skateboards now featured at the shop are biodegradable. In a community like Isla Vista, known to host much more bike and skateboard traffic than actual vehicular traffic, this addition is important. Rusted old bikes left to rot and cracked skateboards that have been tossed away, never to be used again, are common sights in Santa Barbara.

With Penny Organic Skateboards’ new Biodegradable Collection, Sundance can promote transportation that not only saves gas (which, according to CNN, hit a record state-average for cost this week at $4.666 per gallon), but also composts into the ground when its time comes to be retired.

In addition, Sundance has established a traffic solutions program, offering incentives to employees who take alternative modes of transportation to work. Whether they travel by bike, bus or even by foot, they use transportation that does not involve extra gas and pollution.

To track the progress of their green program and measure the impact they are making, Sundance has designed what they call “a productivity board.” This board, hung in the staff area of the store, gives data and charts tracking energy consumption and other reductions harmful waste they have reduced through the program.

Though stricter on the “green scale,” Sundance still hasn’t lost its laid-back Southern California charm. The company hopes to progressively enhance its environmental awareness program, ultimately involving customers more fully in their program. Eventually, they intend to share things like their productivity boards with customers and anyone interested via social networking and other outreaches. Sundance plans to continue its community involvement, so be sure to check out their website at, join them in a future beach cleanup or stop by next week’s farmers market to snag some gear and good times.