Riding Green With Mervin
The mountains are covered in snow, Car ski racks are loaded and the snow is flying, winter is here. For many of us winter brings the thought of buying new equipment. Whether it is a new pair of skis or a new stick for the quiver, many of us have our eyes and hearts set on a new setup. What goes into the decision making process when you buy a board or a pair of sticks? Style, length, camber, sidecut, pop and even graphics are common deciding factors for most of us when buying new equipment. These were certainly our criteria for buying snowboards and skis until this year. With the discovery of the predicted impact global warming will have on the ski industry, no viable snow by 2050, we decided to search for a green snowboard company to make my new purchase.
Our search led us to several companies who had green initiatives, but none like Mervin Manufacturing in Northern Washington. Mervin Manufacturing produces GNU and LIB Tech snowboards. What puts Mervin above the rest is their commitment to sustainability. Mervin has its own sustainability team dubbed the “environMENTAL” division. They are responsible for overseeing the company’s sustainability measures and implementing new procedures. Mervin sets what should be the standard for all companies to follow in terms of reducing the impact they have on the environment. The snowboards they produce are packed with green materials. In 1986 Mervin Manufacturing replaced toxic ABS plastic in their sidewalls in with a fully recyclable polyethylene. Starting in 1995 they began using renewable wood cores made of bamboo, as well introducing polymer topsheets to their line. Traditional companies often times use fiberglass and toxic resins to accomplish the same thing. Some more recent improvements have been fully recyclable bases, water based inks for their graphics, and a topsheet they call Beans which is derived from the castor bean. Don’t think for a minute that quality has been sacrificed in going green. Mervin boasts that the beans topsheet is stronger and lighter than its toxic competition. Their commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop after the production process. Mervin makes a point to collect and recycle all scrap wood into what is called good wood, which is used as a soil additive. Next door to the manufacturing plant Mervin has set up a soil and compost site where the wood is recycled. The good people at Mervin also recycle plastics from base materials, and any paper, plastics or cardboard that comes from the office.
Not only are using green materials better for the earth, but also for the men and women who hand build these unbelievable boards here in the United States. One of the techniques employed by Mervin to ensure a safe work place is using water when cutting wood. The water aids in reducing the amount of dust put into the air; so much that the employees don’t need to wear masks when working. This also is partly due to the immense 2700% air replacement ventilation system Mervin has installed to keep all their employees breathing clean air. Mervin also uses an epoxy resin that is low in volatile organic compounds. This results in a resin that doesn’t evaporate into room temperature air that would cause harm to the surrounding people and environment.
The folks at Mervin care about making a green product for you, me, the workers and of course the earth. The snow sports industry needs a leader to buck the trend of traditional board and ski production that typically produces literally tons of waste and pollution into the environment. Mervin Manufacturing is that leader. They have stuck to their roots through corporate restructuring and demanded that their originating ideas and values be at the forefront of the companies goals moving forward. We found an alternative for a snowboard that is built with green mindset, and hope that it something you take into consideration when purchasing your gear for the upcoming season. Happy riding!