For those of us who enjoy snow and ocean sports, riding on a board or a pair of skis means having the health of the environment riding on our conscience. Much of the traditional equipment utilizes toxic materials in the constructing, shaping and finishing processes. The fiberglass, epoxy resins, plastic, foam, wood, steel and aluminum that propels us down the mountain or along the waves is difficult to recycle, nearly impossible to separate once constructed, and overly demanding on natural resources, landfill space, and energy consumption.
What is a nature-loving thrill seeker to do? Luckily, there is now an emerging organic and sustainable sports market that specializes in reducing outdoor recreation’s environmental footprint. Blogs such as Snowboard Green, Shifting Tides and Sustainability in Action Sports post regular updates concerning the progress of the industry’s movements towards a healthier future.
From fast growing grasses such as bamboo and paulownia, to hemp, flax, and recycled hardwood, manufacturers are beginning to make more eco-friendly boards and skis from vegetable-based, sustainable materials. Surf and snowboard companies Arbor and Venture use farmed or salvaged wood, recycled poly-ethylene fill and bamboo cores for their merchandise. Liberty Skis also employs bamboo in its products as does German-based Grown. Grown, along with New Zealand’s Kingswood, are the first companies to claim fully carbon neutral skis.
Some of these brands travel the extra mile by reclaiming their scraps, harnessing wind power to operate their facilities, and shipping factory direct in order to offset transportation pollution. Even the larger, more established brands are beginning to jump on the green bandwagon. Salomon and Volkl offer ski and snowboard lines featuring bamboo cores and snow industry giant, Head has begun a charity to protect South American rainforests to offset its carbon emissions.
For a comprehensive list of environmentally friendly winter gear, check out Stray’s guide for Winter 2010-2011. Surfers should take a look at The Greener Blue for blog posts and links to featured products.
Through a little enlightened thinking, awareness and conservation-minded practice, it is possible to enjoy the full force of outdoors without leaving a negative impact. Through supporting those businesses who value nature as we do, we can ensure an enriching experience within our landscapes while promoting businesses with the health of the planet in mind. We’re on board! Are you?
(Bambu Batu is proud to be an authorized dealer of American-made Bamboo apparel from Arbor.)