When choosing a board to ride, there are several factors to consider beyond shape and quality. Who made it and what are their values? What materials were used in the manufacturing process? Where was it made? Was it made locally or on the other side of the world where the carbon footprint associated with transportation starts to add up.
“Sustainable” and “eco-friendly” are easy buzzwords for companies to throw around in marketing campaigns, but how many can truly back it up and are they transparent about their progress?
There are a few key certifications you can look for when shopping around:
Certified B Corporation - Identifies businesses that balance purpose and profit. These businesses meet the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.
FSC Certification - The Forest Stewardship Council ensures that products (wood) come from responsibly managed forests.
Bluesign Certified - Works in the supply chain to approve products that are safe for the environment, workers, and customers. This can include finishes, dyes, and other chemicals.
Confidence in Textiles (Oeko-Tex Standard 100) - This label stands for responsible textile products, safety, and transparency. It tests raw materials, intermediate products, and end products for the presence of harmful substances.
Progress is being made by several companies to manufacture boards sustainably, and below are a few good examples.
Arbor - Known for their naturally beautiful wood-inspired graphics, Arbor sustainably crafts their snowboards and skateboards with highly renewable woods and bamboos that are certified through FSC, their production lines are powered by 30% solar power, with a goal of 100% in 2020, and they donate a portion of every sale to Hawaii’s Koa Forests.
Burton - Always a leader in the snowboarding industry and the first snowboarding company to become a certified B Corporation, Burton has several sustainable practices in place. They work closely with Protect Our Winters (POW) to lobby for positive climate policy, all the wood used for their boards is certified with the FSC, and they have rigorous and tangible 2020 sustainability goals including a 20% reduction in their carbon emissions, 100% recyclable or compostable retail packaging, and 75% waste diversion at their global headquarters.
Jones - Jones does a good job of detailing the work they’ve done to create eco-friendly snowboards in a published 2018 Sustainability Report (still waiting on the 2019 report…) The report details their involvement with 1% for the Planet, POW, and Community Carbon Trees - proving they’re willing to devote resources to eco-centric philanthropies. They also use recycled steel edges and ABS sideswalls for their boards and their skins have been fluoro- and PFOA-free since 2015. The report also lays out their sustainable goals like introducing FSC woodcores and bio resins to all boards by 2020, introducing 100% recycled base materials by 2022, utilizing recyclable bio resins by 2022, and by 2020, 90% of their product packaging will be made with recycled materials.
Earth Day Bonus: For the third year in a row, Jones is donating 100% of online sales on Earth Day to POW.
Mervin (Lib Tech, GNU, Roxy) - Mervin makes a variety of environmentally friendly boards for snow, water, and land. The boards are made from start to finish in the good ol’ USA and all their wood cores are FSC certified. Their facility in Carlsborg, WA is heated by renewable biodiesel and any scrap wood created is donated as kindling and sawdust is used as a soil additive. And one of their biggest successes is generating zero hazardous waste in the manufacturing process - they use an eco-friendly water-based ink sublimation system for their graphics, soy-based elastomer sidewalls, low VOC epoxy resin, and basalt fiber instead of conventional fiberglass. Check out their interactive map to learn more about their initiatives here.
CAPiTA - They've dubbed their manufacturing facility the MARS1 - Mothership Advanced Research Station One and claim to be the world's first 100% clean energy snowboard production facility - utilizing a hydroactivated NH3 thermal energy system that results in zero CO2 emissions, zero ozone depletion potential, and zero global warming potential. They received the 2017 Energy Globe Award (known as Nature's Nobel Prize) for their region for their focus on renewable energies and conservation of resources. They use 98% locally sourced materials, water based UV inks, most of their cores are FSC certified, and they use a 60% renewable Magic Bean resin in all their boards. See the CAPiTA tech specs page for more details.
Niche - Niche claims their snowboards are zero waste by using alternative and recyclable materials for several components of their boards. They’ve partnered with Connora to utilize Recyclamine technology to produce fully recyclable snowboards.
By no means is the list above all-encompassing, but it’s meant to inspire you to dig deeper with your purchases and discover sustainable brands for the products you enjoy. As consumers, we can push companies to improve and be transparent about their sustainable practices.
Andrew Scheffer has the rare, and perhaps unique distinction of being a former Buddhist monk and a Wharton MBA. He has spent more than 10,000 hours in intensive mindfulness training and trained for more than 30 years, (eight years full-time) in monasteries and retreat centers throughout the world. Beyond that, he spent fifteen years working in private banking and wealth management at firms like Morgan Stanley, UBS, ANZ and Bank of Singapore.
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