Finding the most sustainable version of any particular product sometimes takes a lot of asking and digging around. And while we are all aware of the environmental impacts of our gear (and there are many well known brands that are seeking to become more sustainable and ethical), one product that you have possibly not considered is ski wax. Most common ski waxes are made from paraffin waxes which are artificially made from petroleum.
The following comes from Rich Beneduci at Green Ice Wax.
Ski and Snowboard Wax: Environmental and Safety Considerations
- Application and safety.
During application of a fluorocarbon containing wax, the applicator puts themselves into potentially hazardous situation, especially if the work area is not well-ventilated. When the particles of the wax are broken down into smaller microbes as a result of overheating, the air becomes contaminated with particles too small to be filtered by the lungs. Studies show that elevated fluorocarbon levels exist in humans that frequently use fluorocarbon ski wax (45 times higher than normal).
The fluorocarbons on a ski get transferred to the snow during use. When the snow melts the fluorocarbons find their way in to rivers, streams and finally fish. It was believed that fluorocarbon molecules were large enough that they are inert. However, recent studies by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have found that various microbes can break down fluorocarbons into smaller toxic molecules.
Recently, 200 nations joined together to reduce hydofluorocarbon (HFC) gases. HFC is considered one of the most potent greenhouse gases. It is 10,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the most well-known culprit in the increasing levels of greenhouse gases. The main use of HFC is refrigerants, aerosols, and foams. HFCs are also precursors and by-products of the fluorocarbons used in ski and snowboard wax.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry said “it is a monumental step forward.” The US and Europe have committed to cut the use of these harmful gases incrementally, starting with a 10% reduction by 2019 and reaching 85% by 2036. By reducing the HFC gases, a climate change of approximately 0.5°C (or 0.9°F) rise in temperature by 2100 can be avoided.
Alternates to Fluorocarbon Wax.
As skiers and riders, we can do our part to reduce this greenhouse gas by eliminating using fluorocarbon waxes. Fortunately, there are alternative additives for wax to keep it fast. Green Ice Wax has been using these alternative, ecofriendly additives in its race wax series now for 4 years. The wax is endorsed by Travis Ganong, Olympiad and US professional downhill ski racer. The waxes have been used successfully by professionals and collegiate racers for some time.