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Bamboo-hoo: The Greenwashing of Snowboarding


I don’t know about you, but I am not buying into this whole “green craze” in snowboarding. Sure, we can make fun of wakeboarding because their activity is potentially more offensive to the environment than snowboarding, but when it all comes down to it, snowboarding is just not a “green” activity.

We human beings need to feel better about ourselves though, and the snowboard industry seems to be wholeheartedly jumping on the bandwagon of “eco-friendly” products. And what word says “eco-friendly” like bamboo! Let’s be realistic though, riding a snowboard or wearing socks made of bamboo isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.

Sure, bamboo has plenty of benefits for clothing. It’s highly renewable and grows back without replanting. It requires no pesticides, and will grow like a weed just about anywhere. And of course once processed, it’s silky and wonderful and naturally anti-microbial and moisture wicking. So why wouldn’t every one want to use it?

There in lies the problem: everyone does want to use it. From snowboard first layer companies to high fashion, you are hard-pressed to find a line without at least one piece of bamboo in it. Sure it’s easily renewable, but where is all this bamboo growing? Well, the high demand for bamboo in everything from clothing to flooring is causing many Chinese farmers to turn natural forests into bamboo fields. And even though it’s not necessary, many cultivators are starting to use fertilizers that are hardly “organic” to make the fast growing plant grow even faster.

So the solution is to just buy American, right? Well, in addition to defeating one of the other major-eco benefits of bamboo (it’s cheap and low-impact because it grows near the factories) there really is no such thing. China is the only place with the technology and machinery to effectively grow and mill bamboo. China’s eco-policy? Well, that air in Beijing didn’t get so thick from solar and wind power.

A little more research and it turns out to process bamboo into that lustrous and wonderful sheen we enjoy so much in our socks, some pretty gnarly chemicals are used. Carbon disulfide (shown to affect the normal functions of the brain, liver, and heart) and sodium hydroxide (which causes swelling or spasms of the upper airway leading to obstruction and loss of measurable pulse; inflammation of the lungs and accumulation of fluid in the lungs) help turn the fiber into something we can use. I guess the point is to be good for the environment, so who cares about the Chinese factory workers, right?

Oh yeah, and what about the pandas? What will they eat if we use all the bamboo for t-shirts and snowboards? Think of the pandas! But I digress…

The solution? Don’t feel too good about yourself just because you are wearing a bamboo t-shirt. You are not helping anything. If you really want to make a difference, try eating Sun Chips or buying your gas from BP. Go green!
bamboo jacket
bamboo boards
bamboo socks
bamboo line

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Comments (16)

  1. It seems misleading to talk about how awful bamboo is without mention of what it’s replacing. Cotton and fiberglass are two enormously destructive productions and a little less would probably help. But like Mark said, it’s all about less of everything.

  2. I thought their was some good points, but you shouldn’t completely bash a good idea because of the kinks that exist, you gotta fix the kinks. Bamboo is sick , but like it was mentioned, it has to be grown, processed, and shipped in sustainable ways and working conditions of the people have to match as well. another thing is that bamboo has something like 1,600 ish types of species that grow all over the place, so just china dosn’t have to take the impact. Another thing that might help is to stop over making short term economics like the construction of buildings and look to long term things like organic farming that make and keep jobs, this could help with breaking into forest land to farm as well as spreading the farming of things like bamboo all over to lessen certain areas which bamboo grows all over the place, and growing other things like cotton or hemp or whatever can be grown without dangerous pestisides so bamboo shouldn’t take all the heat. Skiing and snowboarding definitely isn’t green in the construction of products but things like base, top sheet, and sidewalls made from recycled P-Tex from renewable powered recycling plants help slow down the impacts and create a latter to better things I also found where surfers are using a bamboo fabric as a fiberglass to glass their boards, i thought this was pretty cool check it out at is about the equivalent to triaxial fiberglass, this could really help with problems with conventional fiberglass, also i the next ten years epoxy from soy is supposed to increase in quality should look at that to. If we don’t start somewhere then we’ll never go anywhere. I do agree that over publicizing of actions without actually making green changes isn’t good but i have never tried to run a company and therfore shouldn’t speak without backing it up(got to make sure their doing their jobs at he same time i guess), so maybe i’ll stop typing and go do something.

  3. everything should be green these days, let us help mother earth.`;

  4. we should always Go Green to help the environment, always use products that are earth friendly~;,

  5. […] here at the n00b don’t find tinsel distracting, and we think bamboo would be a much better choice for a Festivus pole (VERY high strength-to-weight ratio), but mostly […]

  6. […] themselves as alternative-energy pioneers and serious environmental stewards. It could all just be greenwashing because the want to keep the money coming in. But I suspect they see climate change as a very real […]