In the latest article by our Founder and Director, Cameron Hall writes for our charity partners Protect Our Winters UK, highlighting his top picks for the best eco friendly buys this ski season. Read the full piece below and online at Protect Our Winters UK.
Top Five Eco Friendly Ski Products This Winter
We all love winter and we all love snow. Our passion for skiing and snowboarding is something that goes beyond a hobby: it’s a way of life. The idea of a snowless winter doesn’t bear thinking about, but the prospect of our winters disappearing completely is a real possibility. Climate change is no longer a political debate discussed solely by bearded environmentalists and politicians in suits - it’s a conversation that is being held on chairlifts and in après ski bars around the world amongst members of the international skiing and snowboarding community.
In the UK, we're seeing greater measures being taken towards fighting the battle against climate change, particularly within the winter sports industry. More brands than ever before are beginning to think carefully about sustainability and ethical practices, and how we can all help take better care of our planet; as the need to take responsibility over our actions – and product purchases – gains momentum.
Here’s a roundup of five of the best eco-friendly buys this winter season.
Van Loon Sport Base Layers
Van Loon Sport is an apparel startup who are developing a collection of layers for season 2017/18 manufactured with zero fabric wastage.
As Creative Director of Van Loon Sport Greg Stidolph explains, “almost all clothes are currently made by cutting out shapes from huge sheets of fabric then stitching them together. While great effort is made to minimise wastage, as much as 20% of every square metre can be left unused as off-cuts. When you consider that every inch of that fabric has been sewn, grown, harvested, washed, combed, spun, knitted, finished and delivered before this point, the wastage is much greater than it looks on the factory floor.”
Capitalising on the latest technology in knitting machines, Van Loon Sport are attempting to remove all that wastage from their supply chain, ensuring every length of yarn is used. “The best comparison I can give is that it’s like a 3D printer for clothes” explains Greg. “These machines take in the Merino wool yarn at the top and, via some very smart code & needlework, perfect garment panels come out the other end. It’s such a neat process - I really see this as the next step in ski layers. I hope once we’ve perfected it, the rest of the industry will follow suit and we’ll see a lot more brands manufacturing this way."
The garments launched at Van Loon Sport’s 2017/18 pop-up shop at Mountain Air, Verbier, so if you're in the area, be sure to check them out. "We call ourselves the future of ski clothing: part of that is ensuring skiing actually has a future.”
Another startup brand with a progressive mindset is Drysure, who create shoe and boot dryers using a unique design that allows moisture to be absorbed from your damp or sweaty ski boots twelve times faster than regular air drying. Whilst most ski boot dryers use batteries or electricity, Drysure has no power source and can be reused over and over again, making the product a more sustainable option compared to alternative ski boot dryers that typically require electricity. Drysure comes in two designs: “Active” for low ankle footwear like running or cycling shoes, and “Extreme” for ski and snowboard boots.
Drysure Extreme can absorb up to 10 days of sweat and moisture before needing to be re-activated, whilst Drysure Active has 7 days - meaning the amount of energy saved creates a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to other ski boot dryers. Founder of Drysure, James Robbins says, “when developing Drysure, sustainability was a key factor both from a practical side and from an ethical perspective. We all love winter and in creating a product connected with winter sports, it was important to me that Drysure should be sustainable.” In addition to providing a non-electrical solution to footwear drying, the product provides a hygienic benefit by helping to reduce fungal growth.
Of the more established brands, the new season range from Picture has high recycled fibre content using perfluorinated, chemical-free DWR treatments. In a progressive move, Picture’s factories have all signed an ethical and environmental contract guaranteeing best work practice and wellbeing for their employees - few snowsports clothing companies boast Picture’s environmental and innovation credentials and they are pioneering the way in sustainable skiwear. Founders of Picture, Julien, Jeremy & Vincent say, “When we launched Picture in 2008, sustainable development and conservation of the environment were strong values that we deemed absolutely necessary to bring into the brand.” They continue, “At that time, we really didn’t know very much about responsible textile manufacturing! But today, our goal is to be fully committed, with a global vision of our products’ lifecycle: design, raw materials, confection, use, 2nd life and end of life.” The new range of Picture Ski Wear is now available in-store and online at Ellis Brigham.
It’s easy to forget about the lasting impact some products have on the environment and ski wax may not be the first thing that springs to mind. However, according to the team from Holmenkol Natural Wax, when we ski down the piste, snow crystals scratch at the bottom of our skis and remove small bits of wax.
Any wax that contains fluorocarbons (hydrophobic additives) will stay in the snow until spring then run off into rivers and lakes, affecting the local ecosystem. Holmenkol have developed a universal biodegradable hot wax bar for all snow types and temperatures that does not use any of these additives and which is fully biodegradable while still fast and long-lasting.
Their natural wax is available from Ellis Brigham stores and Ellis Brigham also offer their own environmentally friendly scraper made from 100% recycled Greencast acrylic.
The final pick for our eco-friendly winter product of the season is NZ-based brand Mons Royale and their Checklist hoody, which itself is warm, comfortable and naturally odour resistant. Engaging merino wool as the main material in their products, the brand is mostly known for making excellent ski and snowboard base layers, but what really makes their work stand out is the factory Mons Royal uses to produce their garments.
The brand employs state of the art tech consisting of the latest German knitting and spinning equipment, with a wool cleaning and combing plant that recycles heat and purifies its water as it goes. Their textile and garment manufacturing plant uses environmentally friendly dyes, and the water used for dyes is processed through a water purification plant to neutralise any chemicals to ensure only clean water goes back into the environment.
The more brands think about sustainability, the more we can work towards protecting our winters for generations to come. For more details on Protect our Winter and to join the movement go to www.protectourwinters.uk