28 Sep

How Ethical Is Rip Curl?

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Rip Curl is one of the most popular board sports brands, alongside Quiksilver and Billabong. But how ethical is Rip Curl? Read the article to learn about Rip Curl’s “Not Good Enough” rating and discover “Good” and “Great” rated alternatives. This article is based on the Rip Curl rating published in April 2021.

Rip Curl, the “Ultimate Surfing Company”?

Like many big companies these days, Rip Curl’s story started in a garage in the last 1960s. Doug “Claw” Warbrick and Brian “Sing Ding” Singer originally started making surfboards before moving on to wetsuits. Soon, they became one of the world’s most recognised board sports brands, alongside Quiksilver and Billabong, creating products not only for surfing but also for skateboarding, snowboarding, and wakeboarding.

Being so close to the ocean, Rip Curl has set up an environmental policy, Rip Curl Planet, and claims to be driving a host of environmental initiatives, focusing on reducing waste, reducing energy consumption, and using recycled materials. So how exactly is Rip Curl impacting people, the planet, and animals? We ask, how ethical is Rip Curl?

Environmental impact

Rip Curl says it has “a strong determination to be environmentally responsible”, yet we rate the brand “Not Good Enough” for the environment.

The brand uses some eco-friendly materials, including recycled materials: starting in 2019, the brand rolled out menswear and womenswear swim and apparel collections designed using recycled materials, organic cotton, and organic fleeces. But that’s pretty much it.

We found no evidence Rip Curl has set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals, or implemented water reduction initiatives.

Rip Curl does support local environmental groups to clean up, protect, and revegetate beach and mountain areas close to their offices, but this is not enough for the brand to get a higher rating.

Labour conditions

Rip Curl also rates “Not Good Enough” on the people front, which is worrying.

While researching the brand, we found no evidence it has worker empowerment initiatives such as collective bargaining or rights to make a complaint and, more importantly, that it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain.

Rip Curl does audit some of its supply chain. It discloses partially adequate policies or safeguards to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19, which is a first step. Still, for a brand that aims to “demonstrate honest and ethical behaviour in all that [it does]”, this is definitely “Not Good Enough”.

Animal welfare

Rip Curl is also “Not Good Enough” regarding its impact on animals. There is no evidence the brand has a policy to minimise the suffering of animals. Despite not using fur, angora, exotic animal skin or hair, the brand still uses leather, wool, and down (accredited by the Responsible Down Standard).

Overall rating: Not Good Enough

We rate Rip Curl as “Not Good Enough” overall based on our research. For a brand that claims to be acting sustainably and respecting people and the planet, it needs to be doing much more on all fronts. Rip Curl should start by strengthening its environmental practices, using more eco-friendly and less animal-derived materials, and setting and reporting on its greenhouse gas emissions targets. The brand must also ensure its workers are treated fairly and paid a living wage. Only then might the brand be considered the “Ultimate Surfing Company”.

Note that Good On You ratings consider hundreds of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.

See the rating.

If you’re a surfer looking to protect our planet, then the first step might be to choose better, more environmentally-friendly gear. And even if you’re not a surfer but love our planet just as much, keep reading to discover our favourite eco-friendly alternatives to Rip Curl.

Good swaps

“Good” and “Great” alternatives to Rip Curl

Patagonia

Rated: Good

Patagonia is a brand that truly lives and breathes the great outdoors. It makes clothing for trail running, climbing, mountain biking, surfing, skiing, and snowboarding. Patagonia has strong labour rights and uses recycled, rather than virgin, polyester. It has also committed to reducing its energy use and emissions.

The brand stocks sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Patagonia @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Patagonia Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Patagonia Kids Pre-Owned @ Retykle.

Shop Patagonia.

Panamuna Project

Rated: Great

Panamuna Project puts the protection of the ocean at the heart of everything it does. This independent surf label uses eco-friendly materials, which limits the amount of water and wastewater used in production.

See the rating.

Shop Panamuna Project.

Elle Evans

Rated: Good

Founded in 2013, Elle Evans Swimwear creates beautiful, more sustainable swimwear and activewear for people who care about fashion and the future. The brand uses post-consumer waste fabrics and traces all of its supply chain.

The range is stocked in sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Elle Evans.

tentree

Rated: Good

Canadian brand tentree believes big change starts small. Small as in bringing your reusable bag to the grocery store, making fewer, more thoughtful purchases, and choosing to purchase sustainably when you do. The brand plants ten trees for every item purchased to help regenerate ecosystems and provide planting jobs in communities around the world, and has already planted over 65 million trees.

All tentree’s products are created with an Earth-First approach, meaning they're made in fair, safe working conditions, and constructed using more sustainably sourced and recycled materials.

tentree’s super comfy fabrics and easy wardrobe staples are typically available from XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop tentree.

Outerknown

Rated: Good

Founded by surf champion Kelly Slater, Outerknown is a sustainable brand that aims to blend style and function with the protection of natural resources. The brand is Bluesign certified and has partnered with the Fair Labour Association.

Find the range in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Outerknown.

Shop Outerknown @ Wearwell.

Shop Outerknown @ Good.

TWOTHIRDS

Rated: Good

TWOTHIRDS sees itself as a brand for people who are awake and aware of the immense value of our oceans, but also have a thirst for style and substance. It manufactures all its products locally to reduce its carbon footprint, as well as audits all of its final stage of production. The clothes can be found in sizes XS-L.

See the rating.

Shop TWOTHIRDS.

Loop Swim

Rated: Great
two girls playing in water wearing colourful sustainable swimwear by Loop Swim

Founded by two women from the US and India and headquartered in Shanghai, Loop Swim is a brand on a mission to close the loop on waste and promote circular design. It transforms post-consumer plastic bottles into phenomenal REPREVE UP50+ sun protective swimwear for men, women, and kids. Its trendless, high-quality designs are developed to retain shape and colour swim after swim.

Find most items in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Loop Swim.

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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