Today is the 41st anniversary of Earth Day, an annual rallying point for environmentally minded people and a call to action for sustainability initiatives. For a growing number of people around the globe and within our industry, sustainability is rapidly becoming a norm that defines lifestyles, purchases and business strategies. Our industry depends on the health of the earth and the environment and is comprised of environmentally-conscious people. It only makes sense for us to do all we can to ensure a healthy environment.
SIA celebrates companies that are eco-friendly and encourages more companies to do their part in minimizing the stress that we put on the earth every day. In honor of Earth Day, we are highlighting a few snow sport companies, among many, that have taken the initiative to produce products and practices that are considered green.
Tait Wardlaw, VP Brands, Marketing, Communications
What being green means to us?
While “being green” has been defined as literally leaving no carbon footprint – or buying enough carbon offsets to offset your footprint – we believe that “being green” means doing everything you can to ensure the environment’s health as defined by the community in which you live and work.
There are no companies in the world that build skis and snowboards without leaving some kind of carbon footprint. That’s just the reality of the materials demanded by even the most environmentally-sensitive skiers and snowboarders in the world. But most companies recognize that it’s our environment that sustains us, personally and professionally, and we must do everything we can.
Our company strives to minimize our carbon footprint as much as we can. For instance, we:
- Use renewable wood cores in 90 percent of our ski and snowboard products
- Use more natural fibers and materials in lieu of synthetic, toxic, or metal-based materials than ever before
- Have reduced the amount of lacquers, thinners, solvents and metal-based paints and inks we use in all of our manufacturing by 90 percent.
- Recycle all waste within our manufacturing
- Support “Protect our Winters”, Bonneville Environmental
- Have installed solar panels and environmental curriculum in high schools in our current and former communities (Vermont and Utah)
- Reduce our travel
- Reduce, re-use, recycle in all areas within our company
This is not a marketing platform. This is obligatory for all of us in the ski business. In fact, we expect that most, if not all companies, have taken similar steps. Some companies may have other ideas, too. We all continue to search for greener materials, greener manufacturing processes, and other ways to support the environment both personally and professionally.
All of us in the winter sports business understand that it’s the environment and its health that sustains us personally and professionally.
Rossignol’s first foray into environmentally friendly skis began with the women’s Attraxion Echo skis. In fact, today’s Attraxion Echo 8 may be the most environmentally friendly performance ski on the market. It features:
- Natural materials, including linen and a poplar wood core
- Dramatic reduction of ink, solvents and lacquers
- 25 percent recycled material in the base
- The “badge” is made of recycled leather “cut-offs”
Derek A. Sabori, Department of Sustainability & Corporate Social ResponsibilityWhat does being green mean to you?
To me it means being conscious, considerate and committed to progress when it comes to lowering one’s impact on the environment. It’s a long road, and a loaded term because the more you dig into what anything is made of, how it’s made, where it’s made, etc. the more you learn how far most things are away from Green.
I also believe that “being Green” personally and professionally go hand in hand. Keep those values with you – push for change in any department you are working in. You don’t have to be a Sustainability professional to push for and create a sustainable future in your office place and if you’re a Green Freak at home, bring that passion to work! Others will follow, I promise.
Why is it important for our industry to be environmentally conscious?
Let’s face it; we’re a relatively privileged bunch. Most of us have secured our basic needs and have moved on to higher-level pursuits…If it’s not us that are concerned about the well-being of our planet, then who? We have such an influential presence with youth and we have such an opportunity to create a generation that is conscious, considerate and committed to building a New Future – a future that is cleaner, more renewable, and less impactful. If we don’t take advantage of that, then we’re blowing it, and not living up to the responsibility (I believe) that all of us, collectively, have.
You can look at it this way: We ride oceans (ecosystems), mountains (climate change), and streets (air quality) and if we’re not maintaining our own yard, then we’re just a big part of the problem. Not to mention, a dinosaur of an industry that will be left behind as other industries race to take advantage of sustainable advances and alternatives that are becoming more and more available every day.
What have been some of the challenges that Volcom faces in trying to be more environmentally conscious?
The concept of getting our arms around it all is really perplexing and can be paralyzing at times. The scope and the range of the products that we offer, the events that we hold, the people that we work with all over the globe…it can easily be overwhelming and sometimes discouraging.
Keeping it in perspective and keeping an eye on the long term can be challenging, but we’re in it for the long haul and I’m convinced that many of the gains that we make will not come overnight. Being OK with that is a big challenge for me.
Overview of green efforts/products:
We’ve made a big step here at the company in dedicating a Director level position to our Sustainability & CSR initiatives and every day we’re working on lowering our environmental footprint in some way. Whether it’s bettering our recycling program, our corporate messaging, the materials we use, or the way we design…it’s all a part of the big picture.
When tackling our environmental footprint, we like to break it into a 3 + 1 structure: Product, Events, and our In-House Operations + Outreach.
In regards to our Product:
Our V.Co-Logical Series represents Volcom’s environmentally conscious movement towards sustainability and 1% of every dollar customers spend in this category goes to select environmental protection organizations by way of our “1% for the Planet” Membership.
You’ll find V.Co-logical products in our Men’s line, our Girls line, our Snow line and our Youth and Little Youth line.
In regards to our Events:
We’re making strives with each one to lower our environmental footprint, and to maximize our social impact. The Volcom Pipe Pro this year was a good example of where we’re headed. We worked with a local, 3rd party sustainability group to help us manage our footprint. To the contestants and staff, we handed out totes made from last year’s vinyl banners, reusable chopsticks and Pipe Pro/MIZU water bottles. We also had bulk water stations, a solar expo and natural foods & snacks on hand.
While there, we teamed up with the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii for volunteer time with Coco Ho, we hiked with the North Shore Community Land Trust and also spoke to the kids at Sunset Elementary about corporate social responsibility.
We’re stepping up our recycling program big time and we’re constantly pushing employees to operate more efficiently. We’ve put a ban on single use plastic water bottles and our V.Co-logical Society – a group of employees that are committed to helping the cause and empowering others to do the same – is always busy crafting up the next thing.
As for Outreach:
In the spotlight right now is the L.E.A.F. (Leaders of Environmental Action Films) Contest. For the last two years we’ve been a headline sponsor and we’re stoked for the opportunity to engage the kids in the creative film process. We challenge California HS students to create an ECOmmercial (a 30 or 60 second public service announcement) on any eco topic of their choice and it’s super rewarding to see the work that comes back and the messages they are putting out there. The winners for this year’s contest have been announced at leaf-rocks.com.
While these are all great initiatives, they are just a sampling of our overall goal as our aim is to continue to (and this is not my quote) “integrate sustainability into the rhythm of our business.” We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but that’s the way I like it. You can follow our progress at Volcom.com/newfuture.
Bob Carlson, President
What does being green mean to us?
Arbor’s mission since day one (1995) has been to utilize environmentally responsible materials and practices in order to lessen the impact that our products have on the environment during their life cycle. This design effort is pursued with the goal of delivering the best possible product across a range of customer needs – performance, durability, as well as aspects of style and culture… Everything that bears the Arbor name is created with this in mind.
We believe that you can’t be a significant part of the solution if your brand only appeals to the small niche of identity environmentalists. To make an impact, you must build a wider appeal; one that crosses multiple demographics, economic classes, political viewpoints, and sub-cultures. Fortunately, most people today do care about the environment. They just don’t want to make it part of their outward identity. For many riders, being green is an internal value. We have come to believe that pretty much everyone will choose products produced in a more sustainable manner as long as they speak to their image, performance and economic expectations.
Why is it important for our industry to be environmentally conscious?
More than any other industry, we rely on a healthy environment to succeed. As a result, we need to be on the front lines of protecting the planet. We have an obvious responsibility for the impact our products have on the environment. Time spent riding provides clarity – we need clean air to skate, clean water to surf, and clean snow to ride.
Overview of green efforts/products
Here is our current list of efforts:
- All Arbor Snowboards utilize sustainably sourced wood & bamboo cores.
- All but one of our snowboards utilize Arbor’s sustainably sourced wood & bamboo Power Ply topsheets that improve performance and reduce our reliance on harsh composite materials
- All Arbor Snowboards are made with steel edges made with 60% recycled steel content.
- All Arbor Snowboards are made with the Envirobond® glue system; a plant-based, non-petroleum “bio-pollyurethane” that is environmentally friendly to produce, use, and dispose of.
- All Arbor Snowboards are built with a protective top foil made from 30% castor bean based bio-plastic.
- All Arbor Snowboards are made at the ISO 14001 certified Elan factory; a certification that recognizes their production and disposal practices as environmentally excellent.
- 90% of Arbor Apparel pieces are made with blended bamboo fabrics; bamboo is the most renewable, sustainably grown raw material available today.
- 10% of Arbor Apparel pieces are made with certified organic cotton based fabrics
- 99% of Arbor tees are printed with water-based inks.
- All Arbor tees are made using low impact reactive dyes.
- All Arbor Apparel is shipped in biodegradable or recyclable shipping bags
- All Arbor Apparel utilizes wood trims and tagging made from material reclaimed from our snowboard and skateboard production.
We also donate 5% of our annual profits to groups working to protect and restore the environment.
Let us know what your company is doing to stay green and the role of sustainability in your business. Email your press releases/information to PR@snowsports.org.