Snow is sacred. We as guardians of the mountains carry the responsibility of protecting and preserving the integrity of our snow, our winters, and our planet. As ambassadors of winter, it is our responsibility to advocate for the environment so I sat down with our Sustainability Manager, Connor O’Sullivan, to learn more about what each skier and rider can do to improve their sustainable shredding.
Start With Your Kit: Consider Eco-Friendly Gear To Get Going
The rider who looks the best, must be the best, right? Whatever they are wearing, I’m here to find out if there are brands in the outdoor sports industry designing with the environment in mind. Connor says yes they are. “When it comes to the gear we wear it’s clear we are supporting the fashion industry which is a global contributor to excessive waste and environmental hazards,” Connor explains, “But that doesn’t mean companies are unaware.”
Brands like Cotopaxi, The North Face, and Burton are using eco-friendly materials and factory processes in their manufacturing. The North Face’s Renewed line uses recycled materials for all of its winter wear as well. But that’s not all. Brands are also getting involved globally. Smartwool, one of our partners, is among the signatories of the UN Fashion Charter for Climate Action, a collation working to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as an industry by 2050.
For Earth Day 2021, The North Face is kicking off a new program with the goal of “Exploration Without Compromise.” The North Face is looking to set the bar high with all manufactured items including 75 percent or greater recycled, organic, regenerative, or responsibly sourced renewable materials by weight. Another important factor to TNF is to have a durable water repellant (DWR) finish that is made with non-perfluorinated chemicals.
The North Face’s loyal customer base can now take part in its Renewed takeback program. This program was designed to take in customers their lightly worn outdoor apparel, when they are no longer using the product, or seeking an upgrade, in exchange for a TNF gift certificate. Renewed offers refurbishment and repairs for used clothing from The North Face. “We have a long history of training our customers and getting them to engage with us. We can engage with customers on a level we haven’t engaged before,” said Shu.
If you’re looking to check out some environmentally friendly threads, stop over to First Run, The North Face, or the Burton Store in the Village and they’ll point you in the climate-conscious direction.
Wax: Helping You Go Fast, Towards Climate Change
While that fresh wax might make you feel faster, the impacts it can have on the mountain are not always race-ready… but they can be. “The chemicals in wax rub off onto the snow and end up in our water systems,” Connor explains. “The main ingredient in traditional waxes is Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA’s), a chemically derived fluorocarbon. It’s dangerous to the environment and the human body.” Fortunately, Connor isn’t alone in his thoughts on PFOA’s. Earlier this year, the US Ski and Snowboard Association joined Canada and the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) in banning the use of fluorocarbon wax. Modern wax brands, however, like SWIX and Toko have fluorocarbon-free options.
Ready for that fast and environmentally responsible feeling of fresh wax? The First Run Demo Fleet and all tune-ups at First Run use PFOA-free wax that will take you from top to bottom fast enough to get a few extra laps in and help you stack up that vert if you’re tracking on the Ikon Pass App this winter. Plus, for every day tracked on the App you can help Shred for Sustainability and plant trees across North America.
Skis & Snowboards: Feel Good About Your Turns
Gear, check. Wax, check, Environmentally conscious skis, and boards… Thanks to Rossignol, also check. Another signatory of the UN Fashion Charter for Climate Action, Rossignol’s hard goods also have the planet in mind. According to their Respect Project, 100% of their ski edges are manufactured from recycled steel. With ecological preservation top of mind for Connor, he’s behind Rossignol’s commitment to our trees. “Their factory at Artés in Spain is certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This means the material in their skis is responsibly sourced with minimal impact on the environment.”
Swing by, the Rossignol Experience Center at Village Rentals to demo a fleet of shred sticks and rip turns that make you, and the planet feel good!
The Takeaway: Winter Is Wonderful If We Keep It That Way
Stratton Resort and our outdoor partners realize that we are all responsible for the success of our planet, and for protecting the beautiful snowy scene that we all enjoy so much. The key is to start small and be mindful. For you that might mean looking more closely at what your jacket is made of, weighing the outcome of the wax you choose, or even just committing to reusable water bottles. Whatever step you decide to take, know it’s a good one, and we support you.
Thank you for your conscious effort toward being an environmentally aware skier or rider. Though it may seem small, imagine the impact of a bunch of small steps taken at once. It might, as they say, make a mountain of difference.