So Grant and I got home from a fabulous week of riding in Well’s Gray Park, and I had pretty much nothing to report for waste.
We did a big bulk shop beforehand, reusing bags we already had, to get trailmix, cereal, powdered milk, and dried fruit etc. I made a pan of granola bars and a batch of cookies and froze a second batch into a roll to be sliced and baked in the cabin. We did end up packing a lot of things in plastic bags, but they were all ones we had around the house and were dutifully washed and brought home to be used yet again.
It was a bit easier since this was a pretty cushy cabin, complete with propane kitchen. (Think sesame crusted, seared ahi tuna, four cheese pasta, and candied pecan spinach salad for dinner with fresh fruit fondue for dessert. ) No, we weren’t roughing it.
I do have two pieces of true garbage to report though. It was very very cold for a few of the days (-26C) and Grant and I had a few equipment problems. (Bare with me if you don’t ski and have no idea what I’m talking about). The skins that stick to the bottom of our skis so we can climb uphill absolutely refused to be sticky when it was below -20. Have you ever tried to go uphill with downhill skiis? Not easy.
We ended up bootpacking (ie hiking and carrying our gear) home one afternoon. That night, Grant removed a plastic strip from down the middle of his to get a little more sticky surface area, and I had to cut the end of one of my skins, so we each ended up with a contribution to our bins.
That really got us thinking about outdoor gear. It’s something that we use a
lot and something that does wear out. I have definitely learned the hard way that it is worth it to buy quality items that will last a long time. I went through three sets of cheap collapsible ski poles before I finally bought my current (more expensive, but vastly more durable) pair.
The irony is that although this stuff is made to be in the outdoor environment, it often is not manufactured with the environment in mind.
My snowboard boots are a mishmash of synthetic materials and rubbers (including fake fur no less) that are more than likely not recyclable and will, eventually, have to be replaced. Even my snowboard is a composite product, made with a variety of chemicals destined for the landfill. Not to mention the coatings of wax we leave out there as we slide down the slopes.
It seems that while we are trying to be waste-free in the rest of our lives, when it comes to outdoor gear, we just go for performance.
Of course, there are “ethical” outdoor companies out there. Perhaps the best known is Patagonia who, among other things, makes their fleece from recycled pop bottles and takes back their own clothing products for recycling, and pays for their employees to volunteer with environmental groups. They have actually cut their product line down this year, siting that people don’t need to buy so much stuff since their stuff is so high quality and should last a long time- visionary message coming from a profitable business.
Unfortunately, Patagoina doesn’t make snowboard boots, so I guess I’ll just have to keep wearing my fake fur/synthetic (but oh so comfortable) environmental monstrosities until they absolutely wear out.