Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ski Manufacturing and the Environment

Folsom Customs is going to do all that we can to reduce our environmental impact, yet we humbly know we will always have one. One of the biggest problems in manufacturing is that for many industries we are forced to use materials that have a higher environmental cost. Currently, soy/bio based resins and plastics are not ready for the abuse skiing places on them, so we are still tied to petroleum based components.

However, the epoxy we use is as low impact as we can get and is 99% non-toxic. The plastics we use are recyclable and the manufacturing process we created was honed to produce as little waste possible. We are using only poplar and bamboo for our cores (no foam or composite cores which which rely on more petroleum and complex manufacturing). We have also decided not to use lacquers, topcoats, and silk screen inks because of their toxic composition.

Reducing the impact our manufacturing process is only part of our responsibility. For too many industries, the focus seems to be on how cheaply their products can be made with little regard to the impact of the actual product. One of the the worst, least friendly bi-products of ski manufacturing is the ski itself. They will be around for a while. So what can we do about that? The first step is to focus on making a product that has the longest useful lifespan as possible. Then, when that lifespan ends we need to usher that product into a new role, so it lives on. At Folsom Customs we will be actively involved in reusing our skis for outdoor furniture, sleds, track lighting fixtures, art, and whatever else we can think of. We cannot merely manufacture responsibly, we need to use and reuse responsibly.

I encourage all of you to read Yvon Chouinard's book "Let My People Go Surfing." He wrote a great chapter in which he articulates the dilemma environmentally-minded manufacturers face. We are planning on joining One Percent For The Planet, the organization Yvon founded, as our tithe to the earth.

Let's ski hard, but tread lightly.