Looking to green your winter-loving lifestyle? You can’t go wrong with the three Rs you’ve heard about since the 5th grade: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
But what if you just HAVE to have a new snowboard to remind you why you’re cutting back on your carbon footprint, but the thought of purchasing a new board complete with all the energy and chemicals that go into the snowboard manufacturing process makes you think twice?
Check out the information below on brands like Arbor, Salomon, Capita and Burton, which have all taken steps to make more environmentally friendly snowboards.
“In my opinion, no snowboard manufacturing is environmentally friendly, considering the chemicals and stuff that they use,” said Donald Fierros, Snowboards Manager at Sierra Snowboard. “But there are a few brands that stand out for what they are doing: Arbor is the biggest one, in terms of being more environmentally friendly, and Salomon is also doing good things like using more bamboo and recycled materials. Even Burton, in the last couple years, has started using more recycled materials in their production as well…
“And that’s the main thing in the green movement and snowboard manufacturing: Recycling the waste products rather than scrapping them.”
Because snowboards are put together from a number of not-so-sustainable ingredients – fiberglass and epoxy and plastics – what makes one snowboard more environmentally friendly often comes down to the process used in its construction.
The Arbor Collective, which manufactures Arbor snowboards, leads the pack when it comes to more environmentally manufacturing techniques and an environmental awareness.
According to Arbor’s website:
We started Arbor in 1995 convinced that there was a need for brands willing to take responsibility for the impact their products have on the environment… For those of us who pursue boardsports, protecting the planet is about the environments we use everyday. It was becoming obvious that the boardsports industry, which relies on a healthy environment to succeed, needed to get more involved with protecting the planet.
To this end, Arbor was founded to design products around the goal of replacing as many environmentally harmful materials as possible, with functional, ecologically based alternatives. The mission is to deliver performance, durability, and style in the most responsible way possible.
As of right now, it is not possible to deliver a totally “green” product. Reality is about taking steps towards that future. Those steps are what drive the Arbor Collective. Having said that, we feel that you can’t be “green” just for the sake of being green. Customers expect performance and relevance, even when choosing a sustainable alternative. So, we select only those eco-materials that allow us to deliver better looking, higher performing, more durable products. Form still follows function, and this balance must be achieved if alternative products are to succeed in today’s fickle marketplace.
That philosophy shows up in Arbor’s use of structural wood and bamboo topsheets, which give Arbor snowboards their traditional surf-inspired look, and also cut down on the need for additional fiberglass as a structural component.
Arbor also used Forest Stewardship Council certified wood cores in all its boards, meaning that their cores were harvested in a sustainable fashion.
Salomon snowboards has also taken steps to green their snowboard manufacturing processes, including the development of what they call their ABC Greencake and ABC Wrapper construction processes:
From Salomon’s website:
Our patented construction process replaces layers of fiberglass and resin involved in traditional board production with structural bamboo veneers. Less resin-filled glass saves weight, reduces waste and is better for the environment. To wrap the perfect eco board, ABS sidewalls are replaced with durable, waterproof bamboo rods. At our factory, bamboo is a locally sourced material, further decreasing emissions caused by shipping production components thousands of miles prior to production.
ABC Greencake is a totally new construction that allows you to reheat and recycle your board when you’re done with it. How? We replaced all traditional resins with new Polyethylene glue sheets that separate and recycle when you hit them with some heat. No more fiberglass, no more messy resin. ABC Greencake is a major step toward our goal of a totally recyclable ride.
ABC Wrapper is a patented process using structural bamboo veneers to reduce fiberglass and resin content in each board by 25%. Traditional ABS sidewalls also get the axe — replaced instead by waterproof Bamboo rods. ABC Wrapper reduces the plastic content of each board by 40%.
Burton has also started taking steps to green its manufacturing processes, and has released a number of 2010 boards with its Green Mountain Project designation, which means that they’ve attempted to use recycled materials whenever possible, and cut back on the waste stream that goes along with the snowboard manufacturing process.
Add to that lineup Capita, which offers a selection of snowboards with a Re-Forestation Certified Sustainable Core – a specially selected wood core which was harvested in a way that promotes nature and habitat sustainability, according to Capita’s website.
In addition, the 2010 Sierra Snowboard-Capita collaboration board, the Sierrascope FK, utilizes Capita’s RFC Sustainable Core because, as Fierros said, “As a company, we try to stay as green as possible. We’re working very hard to be a paperless company, and the Sierrascope is just another example of doing what we can do to be environmentally friendly whenever possible.”
All of these companies realize what Fierros says about the impetus for green manufacturing: “There are a group of people who lean toward environmentally friendly products. If it comes down to a choice between one board or another, and one of them is made cleaner, that could definitely influence someone’s decision.”
Photos (top to bottom): Arbor A Frame, Salomon Sick Stick, Capita Sierrascope FK.