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Korey Nolan may have designed a rad surfboard out of Styrofoam Dunkin' cups, but he didn't build it just to catch some gnarly waves off Hampton Beach.
The 32-year-old also wants to send a message about the things we use just once before tossing it in the trash.
"I just hope that the scope of the project — and the message that I'm trying to get across about waste and convenience and single-use materials — stays true," he said. "Because that's what it's all about: exposing the issue at hand, and the effect it has on our oceans and on our world."
And his surfboard not only brings awareness about ocean garbage, it's also an award winner. Nolan took second place in a 2018 contest challenging people to make surfboards from "upcycled content." In other words, from trash.
He told The Boston Globe that “I’ve become, personally, a little bit more aware of wastefulness and stuff like that, and some things like Styrofoam cups really stand out,” he said.
Nolan's surfboard, named Yewwlatta, is not only made of the cups but also plastic straws, bamboo, a plant-based epoxy and more:
You can watch a series of short videos describing his entire process on his Instagram Stories.
Nolan made a surfboard fin for the contest in 2017 but didn't get picked. So he decided to go "all in" for 2018.
"I live in New England. Dunkin' Donuts in New England are kind of synonymous," he said. "... When I was looking around for something that would be practical as a source of flotation and something that was certainly abundant, that was where I really wound up, with these cups."
It took Nolan the better part of a year to gather about 1,000 Dunkin' cups — he eventually used about 700. He gathered them from the side of the road or garbage cans, and his family and friends even helped out by giving him their cups once they were finished using them. (He said he specifically asked them not to get cups just for the sake of this project.)
The Plymouth, Mass., native now lives in Hampton Falls, N.H., with his wife and 3-year-old daughter. He's been surfing the state's waters since he moved a few years ago. He's a graphic designer by day, and in his spare time, he likes to do a lot of hands-on projects — hence, the surfboard. He also makes his own snowboards.
It's the first surfboard he's ever made, but he's been watching people make their own surfboards for years on YouTube and Instagram. It took him two months to build, and it's completely functional. He said the board handles well at sea.
He hasn't heard from Dunkin' yet beyond a quick cursory email, but said he's enjoyed the attention his board is getting from fans on Instagram, surfing circles and in the media.
"It's been really overwhelming, and it's amazing," he said.
In a statement, Dunkin' praised Nolan's creativity and said they are well on their way to eliminating their use of foam cups.
"We commend Korey for being recognized for his creative ingenuity in developing a surfboard made of Dunkin’ coffee cups," the company said. "As part of our commitment to serve both people and the planet responsibly, in February 2018 we announced our plan to eliminate all polystyrene foam cups in our global supply chain by mid-2020. In U.S. restaurants, Dunkin’ will replace the foam cup with a new, double-walled paper cup."
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