Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Will we ride at Alta?

Interesting piece from Arkade Snowboarding about the lawsuit against Alta, and a question raised that maybe we aren't considering. If Alta is forced to open to snowboarders, how many of you would actually go? http://bit.ly/1gFPHaN

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Inside Line: Donna Carpenter, Burton and the fight to sustain snowboarding

February 18th, 2014by  (snowboardmag.com)

In 1977, Jake Burton began building snowboards in a barn in southern Vermont. In the 36 years since, Burton has maintained an ever-present influence in the snowboarding world, continuously creating and innovating new gear, while consistently pushing the boundaries of what is possible on-snow. Today, Burton’s products are tried and trusted, as can be gleaned by the stacked roster of riders that choose to use Burton gear, or the simple fact that Burton has remained an industry staple since the day it stepped onto — or rather, breathed life into — the snowboarding scene.
Now, with the realities of global warming and the mistreatment of the environment omni-present and weighing heavily upon the industry, the company is taking strides to become a fully sustainable brand. Jake’s wife, Burton Co-Owner and President Donna Carpenter explains that now, more than ever, she wants the company to be transparent, to utilize new materials and new methods of production to debut products that will help extend the life of snowboarding, instead of poisoning it.
Mission statements, like “Our commitment is to make Burton as respected for our environmental and social impact as we are for our products…to make snowboarding – and our lifestyle – sustainable well into the future,” can be found all over the brand’s website, and Carpenter wants to make sure that in making such statements, her company is in no way hypocritical; that they are not simply building up a garish facade of eco-friendly jargon and clever marketing schemes, but instead creating gear that lives up to their call for a cultural change.
Donna with Burton ripper Kimmy Fasani in Baldface | P: Susie Floros

Donna with Burton ripper Kimmy Fasani in Baldface | P: Susie Floros
The company is striving to be proactive, as opposed to reactive, meaning they are taking the reigns on improving their product, instead of waiting for something to go wrong and then retroactively addressing the issue. Initiatives have been implemented throughout the company, from the factories to HQ and on to the slopes, to help achieve Burton’s goal of overall waste reduction and the promotion of a truly eco-friendly lifestyle.
At company headquarters, for  example, there are bikes available for workers to use, with the added incentive of free breakfast every Friday for those who make the choice to commute on two wheels instead of four. At its core, what Burton is pushing is a culture change, a way of thinking that breeds sustainable living, habits that help the environment, even if only on a micro-level. There have already been macro-results, however, as the company managed to reduce its waste by an impressive 50% over the course of just one year.
Burton’s Burlington Home | P: Burton
The real change is happening outside of office walls, however, as Donna and her athletes have stepped up as advocates for the environment. Carpenter, accompanied by Burton riders Danny Davis, John Jackson and members of Protect Our Winters (POW), took a trip to DC to speak personally with members of the senate about regulating power plants and controlling Carbon as a pollutant. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) worked alongside POW to compile data that highlights the economic effects that the lack of environmental regulation is having on mountain states, where shorter seasons, drought, and severe weather are having a dramatically negative effect on local economies.
Donna talks about feeling a responsibility to snowboarding, the need to protect and propel the industry and its frosted playground. She views the snowboarding industry, on the whole, as being a step behind in the sustainability game, a little slow on the up-take but now making serious strides and catching up. Burton, for its part, is working to pave a responsible path in the gear market, presenting a line up for 2015 that is nothing short of inspiring. From hard goods to accessories, the brand is churning out new shapes, designs, materials, and new manufacturing processes to ensure their products are on par with the lifestyle and culture the company itself is working to embody.
The brand has introduced FSC woodcores into their Family Tree collection, meaning that the wood used to create the core of each board was grown in a sustainable manner, traced from the source straight through until the boards hit shop floors. Additionally, the Family Tree boards now boast PET topsheets, made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, a process already used by many brands in creating outerwear, but one that is new to the hard goods realm.
Another exciting new initiative for Burton is the brand’s alignment with Bluesign, a system  that unites the entire textile supply chain to ensure that from start to finish, no hazardous production methods are used. From testing the air and water quality in factories, to regulating the use of resources, Bluesign is a holistic approach to sustainable manufacturing.
At the end of the day, Burton is putting its money where its mouth is. Instead of spouting catchy phrases to give off eco-friendly vibes, Donna and her co-horts are personally advocating for climate change on both a small scale — their own offices, and those of US Senators— and on a larger stage, building out product lines with resource conscious methods and sustainable materials. This is what it looks like to fight for the soul of snowboarding, and cheers to Donna Carpenter for making it look so damn good.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pelican ProGear: Toughest outdoor gear for winter

When you’re facing extreme weather, sometimes a dainty, non-insulated plastic device case just doesn’t cut it - especially when you want to be outside enjoying the winter terrain or shredding down a mountain. Pelican offers a solution with its Pelican ProGear Vault and Protector Series (http://bit.ly/171SwAR) – rugged, crushproof cases designed for your extreme lifestyle.

Vault for iPad Air an iPad mini: Drop tested and crush proof, each case offers protection from momentary water immersion and expertly defends against the most extreme elements including wind-driven rain, dirt, snow, and sand. Additional features include a waterproof membrane that covers the microphone and speakers, without hindering high-fidelity audio.

Protector for Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5/s: Defend your phone with two layers of protection – a tough chamber design on the outside, and a soft elastomeric lining on the inside. The result? Upon impact, the case deflects energy and cushions your phone, preventing damage to its fragile glass surface.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sochi 2014: An Impartial Look at its Sustainability Record

Contributed by Zeke Iddon

The Olympic Winter Games is nearly upon us, and the press machine has already been in full-force during the run up… but sadly, not in an altogether positive way.

The furore caused by the denigration of gay athletes and visitors by Sochi’s mayor (and the wider administration) is, as many have been quick to rightly criticize, counter to the spirit of diversity that any Olympic event should be all about. And really, it would be all to easy to point out that the anti-gay propaganda defies the very origins of the Games given that it began with buck-naked, muscular Grecians getting oiled up and wrestling with each other.

But since the silliness has now been busted wide open, hopefully this will mark a turning point for Russia. Either way, there’s currently not much more to say on the issue that hasn’t already been said, so let’s get on to another important topic that hasn’t received quite as many column inches: sustainability at the Sochi Games.

Going Green in a Land of White

Long before Sochi totally forgot what the word ‘budget’ meant (having overrun the original $12Bn budget to become the most expensive Olympics ever at $51Bn), the organizing committee made some heady claims about becoming the first ever carbon-neutral Games event. Sochi was not the first to pledge this aim; Vancouver (with its 2010 Winter Games) and London (at the 2012 Summer Olympics) also shot for total carbon-neutrality, but ultimately ended up falling short.

So is Sochi on track to achieve this goal?

It’s a tough call to make at this stage, but the prognosis is looking precarious. Numerous impressive green initiatives were announced shortly after the bid was awarded, and for the most part, these have been delivered upon; five saplings have been planted for every one tree felled, fishing populations have been replenished, eco-friendly sewage treatment and energy plants have been constructed, and further measures have been put in place to offset the carbon footprint caused by mass travel to the games.

The various initiatives have been instrumental in both improving economic prosperity to the region as well as offsetting the 160,000 tons of carbon dioxide expected to come as an indirect result of the games. In addition, the official Olympic partner for the games – Dow Chemical – is pledging direct construction offset measures as part of its “Sustainable Future” program. These are predominantly in the form of implementing low-carbon technology to help improve green industry and architecture across Russia.

Naturally, Dow Chemical has its own operating footprint to offset, which it plans to do by siphoning off methane gas from landfills (in Georgia) to power nearby plants. While generating power from disposed waste is not a new scheme – for instance, the Poly2Petro process can turn the kind of plastics discarded after an Olympic event into readily usable fuel – the scheme is one which is expected to offset the lion’s share of Sochi’s carbon footprint.

Of the initiatives, Sochi Organizing Committee president Dmitry Chernyschenko has stated: “One of our main inspirations is to take a significant step forward to help increase environmental awareness and inspire others to do the same in Russia.”

At surface level, this all sounds like good news but many commenters have expressed a lot of justifiable doubts as to whether it’ll all pay off in the end.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

Numerous scientists and climate change experts were dismayed at Sochi’s bid to conduct mass construction efforts near the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve (a protected UNESCO heritage site), but plans went ahead regardless with seemingly disastrous results.

While it’s all well and good to use efficient landfill schemes to successfully offset the carbon dioxide generated from millions of people congregating in one place, this achievement is marred when an entirely new landfill is created in a protected water zone.

And that is exactly what is happening here: according to reports trickling down from the Associated Press, Russia’s government-controlled train monopoly has been dumping waste from its construction efforts en masse into the Mzymta River Valley.

Around 5,000 acres of forest have already been lost, which is already enough to irreparably alter the ecosystem of the national park. Russia’s blanket response to any protests raised is that ‘dumping has ceased’, despite no evidence to back this up.

It’s Not What You Know…

This raises the question as to whether there is more going on behind the scenes that we’re not aware of. More worrying still is that we may never know the full story, given that speculation about authorities silencing activism efforts are running rife.

It seems we’ll have to wait and see whether or not everything will balance out. In this regard, the eco-standing of the Sochi Winter Games is comparable to the mixed-messages it is putting out on the whole gay issue: everything is going ahead as planned, and everybody here is happy and on the same page…

… just pay no attention to the man behind the iron curtain.