Ask Eartha: Take care of your gear and it will take care of you (and the planet)
I love skiing and get outside almost every day during the winter. With that much shredding, I am noticing a lot of wear and tear on my skis and gear. I know it’s not great for the environment to replace equipment every year, and not only that, it can get expensive. How can I reduce my impact, keep my bank account happy, and still get after it?
There is no way of getting around it — skiing (and riding) can be a high impact activity on your joints, wallet and the planet. While it’s true that skis and snowboards can have long product lifecycles, they will eventually become obsolete and unusable. Skis are made of complex products with materials pressed and bonded together. That presents a recycling challenge, resulting in skis/snowboards being dumped in the landfill.
From the sheer amount of gear required to get on the mountain, snowsports can feel very privileged and wasteful. But have no fear — you don’t have to feel guilty, give up skiing and stay home forever. So, how can we be less wasteful? Making simple changes in our daily lives to protect the planet while still racking up the gnar points.
Take care of your gear
Like a lot of things, skis, snowboards and other snow gear require regular maintenance to maximize their longevity. As tempting as it may be to get a new kit every year, that’s not exactly sustainable for the earth or your finances. Pro tip: Take care of what you already own. Don’t leave your smelly, wet ski coat in the car. Hang it up, and let it air out as soon as you get home. Not only will that extend the life of your gear, but you also won’t offend anyone with your stench on the chair lift.
Sometimes accidents happen and you get too sendy, resulting in a ripped jacket. Instead of buying new, check out the warranty on the gear you already own. Patagonia Worn Wear will take back old gear, fix it, and resell it. If your gear is beyond the point of fixing, consider buying used gear from Recycle Sports in Frisco. If buying brand new is your only option, shop at sustainable companies, like REI which has established sustainability standards for every product sold at its co-op locations. Pretty radical if I do say so myself.
Empty the bag
It’s very tempting after a long day of shreddin’ to leave your skis in the car and head inside to relax by the fireplace. But before you grab your jammies and veg out, take a few extra minutes to properly unpack — your gear will thank you for it. Remove your skis from your car and dust off the snow before storing them in between ski sessions. Cold skis meeting warmer air can cause condensation if they’re not properly dried. That moisture can cause rust and may damage your equipment, ultimately reducing your skis’ lifespan. This practice should really be applied to all your gear. And don’t forget about your boot! Buckling your boots after each use will preserve their shape and function. Happy feet = happy skiing.
Whatever your preferred method of sliding on snow, your equipment takes a beating on the mountain, collecting dings and marks that will negatively impact their performance. Tools not jewels, right? Keeping your edges sharp and shreddy ready is important for extending the life of your skis and boards. And showing your bases some love with eco-friendly wax will fill in any damage and keep your gear running smooth and fast. When choosing a wax ensure that it is fluro-free which is safer for you and the environment. And don’t neglect taking your gear in for regular tune-ups from local shops such as Gore Range Sports or Mountain Outfitters.
So, moral of the story? Take care of your stuff! The longer you can keep your skis, snowboards and gear in working shape, the fewer things that will end up in the landfill. Whether it’s between day trips to the mountain, or in between ski seasons, take care of your gear when it’s not in use, and it will take care of you when it is. Shred on!
Lauren Richmond is the marketing and events manager for the High Country Conservation Center. Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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