We’ve teamed up with Bluebird Snow Exchange, a dedicated buying-and-selling platform for second-hand, returned and ex-warranty snowsports products.  Their mission is to make the most out of the gear we already have in a bid to reduce waste, increase product lifecyles and move towards a cleaner planet. Bluebird is also part of a wider environmental movement which strives to educate people on climate issues and the practical solutions available for snowsports through their events programme and writings.

 

 

The Problem

 

The world of snowsports is suffering from a sustainability crisis that reaches to its very core. Snowsports gives participants the chance to connect with nature on an innate and magnificent level, but we have to acknowledge the impact our sport is having on the environment we so crave to connect with. 

 

Climate change in our mountain environments is not a new phenomenon and it is something we know to be happening. However, in recent years the impact of this change has become more stark to the point that it is now impossible for us as snowsports enthusiasts not to take notice. 

 

 

The Solution 

 

Tackling an issue as large as climate change can feel like a daunting and often thankless exercise. There is unfortunately no magic bullet we as snowsports enthusiasts can shoot to overcome our contributions to this seismic event, nor our own consciousness.  However, small changes done at a large scale can have dramatic impacts on slowing our rate of decline. Furthermore, an added and often understated benefit of starting to change our behaviours is that it simply opens up space for discussion surrounding snowsports and its long-term sustainability. From this space innovation can flourish and our positive impacts can start to grow at an exponential level. 

 

From a kit and equipment perspective, the best place to start is to try and re-think our consumer behaviour,  by shifting from a linear to a circular model; rather than simply using an item and disposing of it when finished with, a circular model encourages you to close the loop by repairing, donating, reselling, recycling, upcycling or renting used kit to give it a new home and a new lease of life. The following flowchart is designed to be a simple step by step guide to show you how to start making more environmentally conscious decisions when it comes to the gear we need.

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Resell the product online to give it a new home:

Second-hand marketplaces for snowsports and outdoor equipment now exist and cater for our specific needs. Check out Bluebird Exchange for a great place to buy and sell second-hand or unused outdoor products. Second-hand products also tend to be significantly cheaper than new products so you can save a few pennies whilst also saving the environment.

 

Can you repair, upcycle, recycle or donate the product?

Repair:

Maintenance and repair can extend the product lifecycle of our goods dramatically. Check online for DIY repair tutorials or take your product to your local tailor or ski shop to see if they can work any magic. Bluebird Exchange recently released a series of basic maintenance videos as part of their Citizen of Winter online festival to empower you to start repairing and maintaining your gear from home.

Upcycling:

Upcycling projects take your goods and transform them into something entirely different. Art projects or building furniture from old skis and snowboards are great examples. See if there are any local upcycling initiatives in your area before throwing your gear out.

Recycling:

Can any of the materials in your product be recycled? It is sometimes hard to know but some brands give guidance on how to dispose of their products at the end of life. North Face run their Clothes the Loop programme which allows consumers to drop off their unwanted clothing and footwear at The North Face Retail And Outlet Stores. The products are then repurposed for reuse to extend their life or recycled into raw materials for use in products like insulation, carpet padding, stuffing for toys, and fibres for new clothing.

Donate:

Charities such as One Tree at a Time take donations of unused products or products requiring minor repairs to re-sell in their 'Fix-It' shop. It is a great way to not only keep that gear in circulation but also help a snowsports charity dedicated to bringing about environmental change. Another option is to donate your usable products to a local charity shop for them to re-sell.

 

Dispose of to landfill:

This should only ever be a last resort having exhausted all the other options. As a vast majority of technical gear uses plastic – which won’t degrade - in all aspects of its design, we really don’t want our gear ending up in landfill and we should try our hardest to avoid that being it’s final resting place.

 

Can you rent the product instead?

Ski towns across the world rent out not only hardwear but also clothing. There is also a rise of online rental marketplaces which makes peer-to-peer rental an exciting proposition. The quality of these goods is improving year on year and it may be worth considering whether you actually need to buy a 'new' product at all.

 

Can you find what you are looking for second-hand?

Check out local ski shops for second-hand products or online marketplaces such as Bluebird Exchange which stocks a wide range of ex-rental, ex-demo, ex-warranty, second-hand and returned outdoor products.

 

Purchase a new product from an environmentally responsible brand

When the above options have been exhausted, your next step is to purchase a new product from an environmentally responsible brand.

Lots of brands have started to utilise more circular models for their production processes such as the use of recycled or natural materials. Most brands do not hide the fact they are employing sustainable practices so you should be able to spot this quite quickly when on their website or in store.

With so many brands now engaging with the climate issue, we can now easily choose to only purchase from brands or retailers who are championing new ideas to reduce the environmental impact of their products.