In the last few years, Sanya has seen a rising swell of young entrepreneurs incorporating education and nature conservation into their business ventures.
One such entrepreneur is Kevin Richardson, who came to China from Cape Town, South Africa, in 2017. He started his import and export business in Beijing nine months later, which exports everything from automobile parts to elaborate beard-care products. It quickly grew to include the sale of customized clothing, swimwear, surfboards and skateboards.
His real passion, though, lies in the ocean.
Having always lived close to the sea, Richardson first began bodyboarding 25 years ago. His days in South Africa would start at 4.30am with a cup of coffee and a walk on the beach to check the waves. “If they were good, I’d run back to the house to get my board and be in the sea until I had to get ready for work,” recalls Richardson.
Hainan's surfing community has rapidly grown over the last few years
Richardson has been surfing along the beautiful coasts of Hainan for the last four years. For most days of summer, the glinting sea rests still and serene. The real surfing season starts in winter when strong typhoons breathe life into towering waves and with them, the surfing community. Here Richardson started becoming involved with the nature-impassioned surfers of Hainan.
“I began to think about how to help clean up the beaches, how to protect the ocean,” Richardson tells us. “I wanted to contribute in some way.”
Surfers typically apply a layer of wax to their boards to maintain grip and prevent them from slipping off while riding waves. Unfortunately, 95% of surfboard waxes contain non-biodegradable petrochemicals and are typically imbued with synthetic fragrances and colorants. As a result, they can cause harm to rapidly dwindling coral reefs, a well-known issue in Hainan and Sanya particularly.
Richardson began scouring local surf shops for eco-friendly wax but came up empty-handed. Thus, Fool’s Wax was born.
“We focused on creating something that is 100% reef and ocean safe,” says Richardson. “We substituted the ingredients [of traditional surfboard wax] for organic and natural ones and made sure that all combinations of the ingredients are environmentally friendly.”
Richardson, left, with two local teens who surf almost every day
The new wax products are scheduled to be released soon (and you can follow That’s Sanya for more information when the time comes). Packaged in recycled materials and available in naturally scented vanilla and bubblegum flavors, Fool’s Wax provides an easy way to reduce the nature-lover’s ocean footprint.
Last winter, Richardson started meeting some of China’s surf teams out on the ocean. “China’s surf culture is developing rapidly. It’s such a joy to see so many people surfing and learning to surf,” he says. However, Richardson also believes that ocean education needs to be improved.
Coral reef cover in the South China sea has been declining at a rapid rate as a result of human activities, global climate change, coral bleaching and the incursion of invasive species. Richardson hopes that by supplying eco-friendly products and contributing to the knowledge of up-and-coming surfers, he can make a difference in the fight for ocean health.
In the future, Richardson hopes to see more people becoming involved in eco-friendly water sports and believes that this will open people’s minds to the necessity of ocean and reef protection.
Angela M. Dekenah is a writer and teacher interested in environmental conservation, creative arts and social issues. Follow her on Instagram @angiedeks.
[Images courtesy of Kevin Richardson]
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