ASK EARTHA: How do I recycle my old skis?
Dear Eartha, I bought new ski equipment this season, and now I don’t know what to do with my old stuff. How can I get rid of my skis responsibly?
Great question! With so many outdoor enthusiasts in our community, we go through a lot of gear. Fortunately, we have a number of options here in Summit County to help us keep that old gear out of the landfill.
The impact of gear
Let’s first address the impact our gear has on the environment. Although we use our gear to enjoy the outdoors, most of it is made with materials that are very dangerous for the environment. Skis and snowboards are made with wood, metal, and petrochemicals, like plastic and foam, and boots and outerwear are made with similar petrochemicals. We see most of the impact during the manufacturing process and during the use of these products.
The waste and emissions created to produce a pair of skis or a snowboard are quite substantial so search out companies that are working on reducing this impact like our local ski company based in Breckenridge, Rocky Mountain Underground. The wood they use comes from sustainable sources, they use recycled plastics in their skis, and they manufacture in a facility that is powered by renewable energy sources.
When we use our gear we also see an impact. The wax that is used on the bases of skis and snowboards contains certain perfluoroalkyl substances which rub off on the snow over time. These chemicals have been found to accumulate in snowmelt water and soil as well as bioaccumulate and biomagnify in the animals that live in and around ski areas. To avoid this you can use plant-based ski waxes like the one made by mountinFLOW eco-wax that is 100% made from plants.
Buying new gear that is made responsibly is great, but when it comes down to it we should always ask ourselves, “Do I need this?”. Maybe your current skis or snowboard can last one more season and if not you can always find used gear that can replace your old stuff before buying new. So here are some helpful tips to keep your used gear out of the landfill.
Sell that gear
If your gear still works and someone else could benefit from using it, the best option is to sell or donate it. There are a few ways to go about selling your gear, from the classifieds in the Summit Daily to Craigslist or local Facebook Groups. You could also take your gear to a consignment shop where it can be sold by a professional for a small commission. Locally, Recycle Sports in Frisco and Ridden in Breckenridge, are a couple of locations that deal with used gear sales. Bring your gear into either of these locations and they will assist you in determining the value and quality.
Donate that gear
Want to do good with your used skis or boards? Donate them to local organizations that have winter sports programs. One option is the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) which you can support by bringing your used gear to Recycle Sports in Frisco and requesting that the sale amount be donated to the BOEC. Another option is SOS Outreach which accepts lightly used gloves, socks, and beanies, as well as kids’ ski and snowboard equipment. Email Kate Rath at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have gear you would like to donate.
For outerwear, like jackets and snow pants, take them to the FIRC thrift stores in Breckenridge or Dillon or any other thrift store in Summit County. Donating to organizations and thrift stores is a great option because your gear will be used for community programs that benefit many Summit County families.
Upcycle that gear
Is your used gear too old or too worn to sell or donate? If so, try upcycling it. Get creative with your old skis and snowboards by making benches, tables, or chairs out of them. Or craft art pieces to hang on your wall. There are a lot of Do-It-Yourself videos and articles online with ideas for upcycling ski and snowboard gear.
If you don’t have the time for an art project, swing by Alpine Base & Edge in Boulder where they upcycle skis, snowboards, boots, and poles into custom furnishings.
Recycle that gear
When you have exhausted all other options, it’s time to think about responsible disposal. Unfortunately, because of the way skis, boards, and boots are made, there is limited availability to recycle these products. If you can’t sell or donate them, the last resort is to throw them away.
For outerwear like jackets, pants, and other clothing that is at its end-of-life, take it to the Summit County Resource Allocation Park for recycling with other textiles.
As always, think before you throw and hopefully, you can help preserve the beautiful mountain community in which we live, work, and play.