15 October 2019 from Danielle in Equipment

Eco-friendly is all the rage right now, and for good reason. With the fluffy white snow of our beloved ski resorts under serious threat from global warming, it’s time to take action to preserve the environment! The good news is that more and more eco-friendly products are emerging every day in the ski industry. Exciting new developments in this field include the use of sustainably sourced woods and fabrics, plus a varied assortment of alternatives to plastic and harmful chemicals. Getting your hands on eco-friendly products is easier than ever. Let’s work together to ensure snowy slopes for years to come!

Sourcing environmentally friendly ski equipment

You know it's out there, but sometimes it can seem like a lot of effort to actually find the eco-friendly ski products! Below you’ll find some recommendations for trailblazers in the eco-friendly realm. Almost all these companies have a retail presence in the UK or elsewhere at famous European ski resorts. Of course, there are tons of companies out there that are experimenting with alternative sustainable sources – what are your favourite eco-friendly products? Leave us a comment!

Eco-friendly skis

Bamboo has enjoyed a huge leap in popularity as a core ski material, thanks to its strength, durability and flex. The fast-growing plant is a naturally sustainable material that just happens to also be one of the strongest things around. Liberty Skis have won multiple awards for their commitment to sustainability and use bamboo in all their skis. The company is based in Colorado but you can buy their skis in London and many other places in Europe. Grown Skis also use sustainable glue and wood, as well as recycled materials, to make their skis. An intriguing twist is their use of volcanic basalt rock instead of glass and carbon fibres, which apparently help beat emissions and lower energy consumption. You can find Grown Skis at Verbier, Davos, Saas-Fee and various locations in Germany.

Grown Skis are made from sustainably sourced wood
Grown Skis are made from sustainably sourced wood (Photo: © Grown)

Eco-friendly snowboards

Bamboo is also commonly found in eco-friendly snowboards. Arbor Snowboards, whose boards are available across the UK, use sustainably sourced bamboo and other wood fibres in their boards. Niche Snowboards are designed in Salt Lake City but built in Austria and available in Germany and Switzerland. In addition to sourcing sustainable materials and recycled components, Niche makes an effort to respect the environment from start to finish. They produce their boards in an environmentally friendly factory with no CO2 emissions, and they are committed to supporting local businesses and respecting their workers. Meanwhile, bigger companies such as Salomon are starting to put out one or two eco-friendly models. The Salomon SickStick is made of bamboo and quick-growing polawania wood and has been around for about a decade as an alternative option to their regular boards. Atomic and Ride have also been known to tinker with eco-friendly materials in the past, with Ride putting out a hemp-topped snowboard a few years ago. It will be interesting to follow along as this trend continues to grow.

Eco-friendly ski and snowboard wax

More and more people are starting to take an interest in the toxic additives traditionally used in ski and snowboard waxes. Perfluorochemicals, otherwise known as PFCs, are harmful to the environment and harmful to humans. Based in Barcelona, NZero wax is this year’s ISPO winner for the eco-friendly category. Their wax is 100% organic and free from PFCs, and they offer a range of waxes suitable for different temperature ranges. The product is sold in many stores around the Pyrenees. There’s also a UK-based company called Butta wax with a huge focus on environmental sustainability. And finally, eco-friendly Beaverwax, made in Vancouver, Canada, is sold at various locations around the UK as well as at Tignes.

Environmentally friendly Butta snowboard wax
Environmentally friendly Butta snowboard wax (Photo: © Butta)

Eco-friendly winter clothing

From hemp clothing to clothing made from recycled PET bottles, the sustainable textiles industry has really taken off over the last few years. The plethora of eco-friendly companies such as Patagonia, Picture Organic Clothing, Holden Outerwear, Mons Royale, Arbor, Berg Outdoor and Nau make us guiltily wonder why we would ever buy clothing that isn’t environmentally friendly. And with so much pressure from all sides, companies like Roxy, Burton, Columbia and the North Face are starting to come out with sustainable clothing lines of their own. One quirky smaller-scale knitwear company is Funi Wear, made by grannies right in the UK. For more inspiration, look for symbols like bluesign®, GOTS and Fair Wear.

Eco-friendly ski and snowboard accessories

Other accessories are harder to make sustainably but there are some companies giving it a valiant effort. Badger Balm makes organic, eco-friendly sunscreen; the company is American but you can find some in Tamworth or order online. Ortovox supplies merino wool-based products that are founded on sustainable practices and fair working conditions. And Pole Plant, based in Tignes, sells handcrafted bamboo ski poles. Head deserves a shout-out for having founded Cool Earth, an organisation that helps protect rainforests. Other gear companies are slowly starting to jump on the eco bandwagon. Let’s see where the next decade takes us!

Testing Ortovox in Japanese powder
Testing Ortovox in Japanese powder (Photo: © Ortovox)

Creating sustainable ski resorts

Of course, the concept of a ski area presents an ethical dilemma in itself. Thanks to factors such as forest clearing and the massive amounts of energy needed to operate a resort, the pristine wilderness that we love so much is the very wilderness that we endanger with our skiing and snowboarding addictions! And that’s not to mention the loss of habitat for the animals who live in the mountains. Lots of ski resorts are coming up with exciting installations such as wind turbines and solar panels to minimise their energy consumption. Another environmentally friendly practice is including gladed skiing within a ski area, which helps preserve animal habitats. The Alps have a system for designating sustainable ski resorts dedicated to responsible tourism, called the Flocon Vert (the website is in French). So far there are relatively few resorts who have earned the label, but Chamonix and Chamrousse have made the cut, among others. Werfenweng and Arosa are particularly dedicated to environmental sustainability.

Chamonix ski resort was awarded the Flocon Vert for sustainability
Chamonix ski resort was awarded the Flocon Vert for sustainability (Photo: © Chamonix)

Giving back to Mother Nature

There are so many options for eco-friendly ski and snowboard gear that it's hard not to get a little bit excited. As a die-hard winter sports fan, I'm always nervous about the snow melting. It's great to know we can take steps to prevent it! By making use of the some of the awesome products in this list, you too can help play a role in preserving our lovely ski areas. And when you’ve outgrown your favourite jumper or your first set of skis, there are plenty of second-hand shops where you can give your gear back to the community.

Grown Skis are made from sustainably sourced wood image widget

Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!

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