backcountry, boarding, telemark, & cross country gear
This section is still a bit thin at present – so please feel free to send any reviews or details on new developments.
Rather than being a full assessment of all items/ companies (as I have attempted under the ‘specific companies’ section) this is simply a listing of ‘greener’ items that I have found. In time I hope to be able to do assessments of the companies rather than just covering specific gear.
Telemark ski boots:
Scarpa T2 Eco
Scarpa have released one of their traditional telemark ski boots (the T2) with a strong environmental ethos. From the company:
“The Eco is part of the new Planet Friendly range (for both men and women). It’s a no compromise alpine touring boot that is the perfect blend between ski performance and lightness, and now, ecological awareness. The Velvet Eco incorportes all the usual high end Scarpa features such as 3 ergnomic and seriously light buckles, the tried and tested Ski-Walk mechanism and the HRS system”
PEBAX Rnew is made from 100% organic renewable Caster bean and it’s 100% recyclable”.
There is further info on the Eco range here.
(NB: this report is straight from the company website, I have not attempted verification as yet).
(and thanks to tele-whippet from the Backcountry forum for spotting this one).
the Scarpa Tornado Eco
From the company: “The freeride boot for those who work/play/live in their boots is now made from Pebax Rnew”, a renewable plastic derived from castor oil. This renewable material extracted from the oil rich seed (40% to 60% oil) of the castor oil plant, or Ricinus communis, has many positive industrial design qualities. According to Warren McLaren, who writes for the Treehugger website, “castor oil has been adopted by chemical company Arkema to manufacture a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) they brand as Pebax. Their Rnew version is considered to be the bio-based TPE to offer high performance without compromises. Some of those performance characteristics include: low density, flexible without fatiguing, energy return, power transmission, low temperature application, chemical and ultra violet (UV) light resistance.
Extra info on the technical properties of Pebax is available here.
No information on working conditions as yet.
I cannot find any distributor details for Australia as yet, perhaps ask around at your local store to see if they can get them in.
ALPINE/ DOWNHILL BOOTS
Atomic Renu boot
The Renu Atomic is the first Atomic ski boot made of recycled raw materials.
From the company:
“ATOMIC’s most ambitious project for reducing CO2, the Renu has been recognised for its eco-friendliness: the ski boot, manufactured almost entirely without the use of fossil raw materials, has received the Eco Responsibility Award from ispo, the International Trade Fair for Sports Equipment and Fashion. The Renu, the first regenerative ski boot, is made of PEBAX organic thermoplastic elastomer, bamboo fibre, cork and cotton and is 100% recyclable. It is also uncompromising in terms of the kind of performance consumers have come to expect from an ATOMIC product: ATOMIC has managed to produce an environmentally-friendly product which delivers the same level of performance as comparable models – in fact, the boot is even 430g lighter. Two different models are available as in the 2009/10 season”.
The company says this is part of a deeper program to reduce their carbon footprint, with a low emissions ski due for release for the next Northern winter. Their White Winters program seeks to “Make sure winter stays white: combating climate change with environmentally-friendly ATOMIC innovations”.
A note on their production facilities:
“Less spectacular but no less effective are the measures used at the Altenmarkt plant to reduce CO2: the use of a wood chip heating system reduces annual fuel oil consumption by 950,000 litres while cutting CO2 emissions by an estimated 4 million kilograms per year. The plant also places a premium on the efficient use of the water used in the production process: all grinding residue is filtered out and recycled. The entire plant is powered by electricity from renewable energy sources. And recycling is mandatory at all of the production facilities: 15 different types of waste are collected separately and recycled”.
As I understand it, Atomic still make all their skis at their facility in Altenmarkt, south east of Salzburg in Austria. No details on working conditions.
One reviewer noted that while it is “very light, narrow race fit, (it is) a bit flimsy” so you may need to make sure it is rigid enough for your skiing needs.
Atomic equipment is widely available in Australia.
Thanks to Footpro for spotting this one.
Check here for a profile on this fairly new Australian based surf and snow board company.
GNU and Lib-Tech snow boards
These are made by Mervin, who are based in Washington state.
From their website:
“Mervin has been building snowboards every day for over 25 years. From the beginning, we’ve been a very environmentally aware snowboard factory. Founders, Mike Olson and Pete Saari both spent many years hand-building snowboards themselves and wanted their shop to be as healthy and easy on them, their crew and the environment as possible.
“The goal of making a “green” snowboard is to reduce unsustainable and environmentally harmful materials used. No one’s entirely licked it yet, but Mervin Manufacturing is coming the closest. Almost all their Lib Tech and Gnu boards feature recycled bases, soy-based elastomer sidewalls, low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound, b-a-d) epoxy resins, sustainably harvested wood cores, and no toxic finishing clearcoats. Their new Banana Magic model takes it further, incorporating 100 percent Baslat fiber instead of fiberglass, and a topsheet made from castor beans.”
Mike and Norm run a Lib Tech biodiesel co-op, with a filling station next to the factory. Our factory is also heated with biodiesel. All the electricity used by the factory is “green” power specially contracted from the local PUD. We recycle all the scrap manufacturing materials possible… including scrap wood, sawdust, and plastic base materials.
Mervin sublimates rather than silkscreens its graphics. Our sublimation process eliminates the need for the super toxic automotive lacquer gloss coats you see on many shiny snowboard topsheets. (If the snowboard you own looks unbelievably glossy and shiny you are looking a “toxic gloss curtain coat” and you better believe it stunk and killed brain cells to make it shine). Our sublimation system also allows us to recycle excess base material (you cannot recycle scrap base material that has silkscreen inks on it).
This year Mervin introduced a new environmental plastic top material called BEANS that is stronger and lighter than conventional top materials. The oil used to make these topsheets comes from the castor bean plant. BEANS enviro-plastic bio-polymer is used on many models of the 08 Gnu and Lib Tech lines. Here at Mervin, we build our own snowboards near Canada in the USA with a snowboarder, surfer, skateboarder labor force. Our crew needs a healthy work environment to maximize their shred potential”.
Further information: http://www.mervin.com/index.php/enviromental
“All Lib Tech bananas are handcrafted in the world’s most environMental snowboard factory in the USA near Canada”. No specific information about working conditions.
Where can you get them?
Check here for the various outlets that stock them in Australia.
Many thanks to Daniel from ski.com.au forum for letting me know about this one.
As far as I know you can’t get these in Australia – only via one of three on-line shops. Venture boards are handcrafted in Silverton, Colorado. They use only “sustainably harvested’ wood – no old growth – for the cores, which are certified under the FSC – Forest Stewardship Council – system. Sadly, not even the FSC is perfect, there are a range of criticisms of this independent certification scheme (see FSC Watch ) but it is certainly better than many non certified logging operations and at least allows for community input and protects old growth.
The workshop itself uses 100% wind power since 2004. “Using this sustainable alternative energy source supports our conservation ethic and helps reduce our output of the greenhouse gases that lead to global warming”.
For some extra details on their approach to conservation, check here.
For details on dealers check here.
A post about their shift in production countries available here.
Bluehouse is a small-production independent company making a range of skis for both resort and backcountry, based in Oregon.
Faction is a small production company based in Switzerland. Profile available here.
Based in Colorado. Profile here.