By Lucy Munday
We all love it. That hypnotic rhythm of swish and swoop as the edges of your skis or board cut in to a fine dusting of snow. We want the snow to last, the winters to be cold and the marmots to be happy. With that in mind, here are some eco-friendly products that a few innovative brands have created to lessen the environmental impact of hitting the slopes.
Boards and Skis
Among the big name brands like Burton, Roxy and Salomon are some less well-known but global manufacturers who are also dedicating their cutting edge knowledge of ski tech to becoming environmentally sound and stepping away from the use of potentially harmful fibreglass. Venture and Arbor boards and Lokomotiv and Liberty skis all use fast growing bamboo, along with other sustainably harvested woods for the construction of cores. Interestingly Niche Snowboards from Salt Lake City appear to be leading the way with their use of woods that grow locally in Austria where they build their shred sticks and have also begun making 100 percent organic cotton or bamboo blend t-shirts and hoodies.
Board and ski wax
Not many people know this but board wax is normally full of perfluorochemicals (PFCs), petro chemicals, fluorocarbons and other harmful elements that will leave traces in the snow. When the snow melts into the ground these chemicals can then endanger the local wildlife on the mountain. When you heat the waxes that contain these chemicals you also breathe in these toxins. It’s something that most riders may never think of, but many companies are increasingly raising awareness on this issue by making non-toxic, environmentally friendly waxes. Award winning Beaverwax in Vancouver, which also makes hockey stick wax, uses eco friendly additives and a hand pouring technique to manufacture in small amounts making each bar consistent and maintaining quality. Other brands like Green Wax, Purl, Butta and Magic Potion also work to ensure their waxes are not harmful to the environment. With this range and awareness, excuses not to use them will soon run low.
Helmets, goggles, boots, back protectors and wrist guards are all necessary for safety on the slopes, yet they are all made from plastics made from harmful fossil fuels. However, Smith Optics, which distributes worldwide, now make its goggles with 44 percent renewable bio based plastics meaning that carbon usage is cut down by 40 percent. The company’s Phenom model is made with recycled, reground urethane from medical waste. They have also begun making castor bean oil sunnies and recycled fabric helmet liners. Similarly, Scarpa makes its Tornado, Eco and T2 models from castor-oil by-products instead of petroleum. Using castor oil instead greatly cuts fossil fuel usage and offers stiffer flex on the boot.
The use of recycled PET bottles is fast becoming a popular source for your favorite fabric weave. Roxy’s Greenprint line of outerwear; Burton’s Green Mountain Project line and their ‘Breach’ jacket containing an eco friendly Dry Ride Durashell are all constructed with the use of PET. With that in mind, other companies are now following suit. North Face has created their Denali fleece, made from recycled waste- and nothing else! They use 100 percent plastic bottles as the base materials combined with a dark grey fabric to reduce on water usage, chemicals and dyes making it even more environmentally sound. It comes in a variety of colors, is lightweight and will keep you warm on a chairlift under your steeze…bro.
If you didn’t know already, you’re closer in the mountains to that burning amber orb; the air is thinner meaning it’s even easier for you to singe. When your sunscreen washes off in lakes, rivers, and seas or for mountain fans, the shower, so do the chemicals. Take care of your skin and the environment by looking for reef safe sunscreens. If they’re reef safe they will be environmentally safe and likely made with carbon neutrality in mind. Try Badger’s Broad Spectrum SPF 30, which is made from zinc and certified natural and organic plant oils, aloe and beeswax.
And finally… Charities
Globally known HEAD sportswear cofounded Cool Earth, a charity organisation that protects endangered rainforests while working with local indigenous villages. Through this, HEAD has managed to save 7000 acres of rainforest each year since it began and has offset carbon emissions ten times. You can find out more about the organization on their website. It just goes to show that those whose passion lives in the snow, water, sun and earth will go to great lengths to protect it.
Feature image, snowboarder via Shutterstock