Shred Lightly: Closing The Loop

By Ben Gavelda

Our current manufacturing and consumption path is pointing us to peril. We make goods following an open loop system—we extract resources, make something, toss it to a landfill when it’s no longer useful, then fiend for more. If we’re lucky, we can recycle a bit of the good and repurpose it, but that only solves part of the problem. The ideal process involves creating a timeless, purposeful, and/or updateable product by design or one that simply goes back into the cycle, say biodegradable packaging. This “cradle to cradle” system is ideal, but is it even possible, and what’s it got to do with snowboarding?

Well, quite a few brands are taking a step toward more sustainable manufacturing from boards to boots to outerwear, even beanies. Burton’s Green Mountain Project (GMP) is a massive endeavor that turns PET bottles into fabric for jackets, stainless steel into edges, recycled rubber into boot soles and much more. Holden’s conscious approach is part of their entire business process, from eco-packaging to recycled products and less harmful waterproofing. Patagonia sits at the forefront of environmental stewardship in just about everything they do. Even small brands like Venture and Niche Snowboards are doing all they can from buying wind power to using non-toxic materials. Niche even won the 2012 ISPO Eco Responsibility Award for its earth-friendlier approach.

More brands are implementing these actions than you think, and one of the best ways to inject change is to vote with your dollars, because the more you demand environmentally sound practices, the more they’ll happen. At the end of the day, creating more stuff is not good, but creating shred goods with less harm, fewer resources, and more natural materials is at least a turn in the right direction.

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Kyle Mack and Stevie Bell ride a chairlift while there’s no snow to ride on. PHOTO: Aaron Blatt