There aren’t too many better feelings than peeling theplastic off a brand new pair of skis; however do any of us really know whatwaste and bi-products are created in the production of new sticks. Without being properly educated it canbe easy to say that ski industry, which is heavily reliant upon outdoorsenthusiasts and environmental conditions is a sustainable activity. However new environmental sentimentsfrom the ski community have brought forth information on production of skis andsnowboards who’s companies use plastic resins and wood cores that are harmfulto the very environment that this group of people seeks to utilize.
Theroot of the problem rests in the fact that many companies use hardwoods as thecore to their skis; this is an unsustainable process as hardwoods take a longtime to grow. A more sustainablepractice is to use woods such as bamboo or paulownia which are more reliant,have more flex and provide a more energetic ski, all while being less harmfulto the environment. Anotherproblem concerning the construction of skis and snowboards is the toxicchemicals that are needed to create bases and top sheets. Substances such as clear lacquer, epoxyresin systems that are high in volatile organic compounds and fiberglass areused in the production of these components. These substances are all highly toxic and produce gasses andbyproducts that are completely unfriendly to the environment.
Thisis not a necessary evil however, new technology is coming to fruition thatallows us to create resins that are viable as a ski top sheet or base and madeout of soy which is much less detrimental to the environment. A leader in this industry is Mervinmanufacturing who’s tag line reads “core shops don’t let their kids ride toxicChinese toys”. Their products, which include Gnu snowboards and Lib Tech skis,were the first to implement this soy based resin and they hope to be a leaderin this industry for years to come. Another way that Mervin pushes themselves to the forefront of the skiand snowboard manufacturing community is through their water-based graphicprinting process. The majority ofcompanies use a method that is heavily reliant on silk-screened inks full withheavy metals and thick solvent based gloss curtain coats, this is extremelytoxic to the workers in the factory and the environment. Through these processes and others suchas: recycling all excess wood and plastic, their trademark “finger joining” ofother wise useless pieces of wood into the core of their boards and the biodiesel heating system their plant runs on Mervin hopes that they can be thetipping point that allows for the entire manufacturing industry to change. Mervin is not the only company who hasembraced the idea of sustainable skiing and snowboarding however, companiessuch as Liberty skis, Karhu tele-mark skis and K2’s adventure series all striveto make their products as sustainable as possible to help with the industrychanges we are noticing.
The problems that we face as a skiindustry and community are huge; in a testimony to the U.S. House ofRepresentatives, Aspen Snowmass stated that there would be no viable industrialsnow within the next twenty years. If we do not get together as a whole and make sure that themanufacturers of the products we love are produced in an environmentally soundway we will loose this sport we all cherish. So, next time you go to buy new boards take a minute to askwhat they were made of and what ramifications this may have for the deep stuffwe all love to play in.EndFragmentEndFragment