Sustainable snowboards replace synthetics with stems

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The Independent Online

Snowboard manufacturer Arbor Collective have been adding bamboo to their boards since 2001, first using it as an eco-friendly source of organic material to make each board's core, and then exchanging the top fiberglass layer for yet more bamboo. Now they're reducing the new boards' fibreglass and resin use by another 20%, building bamboo into the boards' once-synthetic sidewalls.

Bamboo is an incredibly fast-growing plant and as such is far more ecologically viable when compared to many traditional hard and softwood cultivation, harvesting and preparation. Its strength has been employed not just in traditional oriental construction methods but also more recently in the production of bicycle frames. There are even bamboo taxis called Toti Eco in the Philippine town of Tabontabon.

Like UK outdoor clothing manufacturer Howies, Arbor is mindful of the high ecological cost of cotton manufacture. Each company has a different solution: Howies uses organic cotton and pre-washes its jeans with special eco-balls, which resemble large grippy golf balls, cutting out the use of petrochemical enzymes and unnecessary water waste. Arbor has brought its bamboo obsession into the apparel industry, not content with making boards almost entirely out of the material, and now 98% of its apparel line is made from bamboo-based fabrics.

Following Arbor's initiative, other snowboarding equipment and apparel companies such as Quiksilver subsiduary GNU, Salomon-Adidas, Burton, Indigo Snow, Bataleon and ThirtyTwo have also incorporated bamboo into their boards for a number of years, pushing the plant's performance benefits as much as the eco-friendy aspect.