Since its inception in the early 1950s, skateboarding, or “sidewalk surfing,” has served as an action sport, a recreational activity, a mode of transportation and, for some, even a paying job. And despite going through numerous rises and falls in popularity over the years, there are currently more than 18.5 million skateboarders around the world. Professional and amateur boarders alike go through an incalculable number of decks over the span of their skating careers. Skateboard sales from 2006 totaled $76.1 million in the U.S. alone.
Unfortunately, its current popularity has caused skateboarding to replace furniture manufacturing as the leading contributor to maple deforestation. Case in point: over 100,000 decks are produced per month in the United States alone. This is especially detrimental to forest ecosystems since it takes 40 to 60 years for the Canadian maple tree to mature before it can be cut down and made into skate decks. In addition, hundreds of thousands of old and broken skateboards wind up cluttering landfills.
Skateboarding is, on the other hand, an eco-friendly hobby that can teach kids about carbon neutral transportation, healthful, outdoor activities, and a love for the planet. So it's fortunate, then, that there are brands out there doing their part to produce durable, sustainable, strong skateboards that can keep granola crunchers and gnarly thrashers equally happy. Here are some of the pioneers of eco-friendly skateboarding.
SKATEBOARD COMPANIES THAT ARE PLANET FRIENDLY
Comet Skateboards: There's very little about San Francisco-based Comet Skateboards that isn't good for the environment. Not only do they use renewable energy, sustainably harvested hardwoods, low VOC and water-based clear coats, water-based inks, zero formaldehyde glues, renewable bio-composites, and a regional supply chain, they also compost or repurpose all scrap. Comet Skateboards' closed loop strategies take into consideration the bi-products of skateboard manufacturing and, as a result, use materials that can safely biodegrade and fertilize at the end of their use. In addition, you can buy a Comet skateboard, use it to the extent of its life, and then send it back to be made into a new board for someone else. And when you return your old board, Comet will give you $5 to use toward your next purchase. Oh, and did we mention Comet Skateboards are manufactured in the world's only solar-powered skateboard factory?
Glide Skateboards: Glide Skateboards are hand-crafted, hand-shaped, and carefully made from reclaimed and sustainable materials like the maple planks once played on by the Virginia State University Trojans. Artist and craftsman Brian Lopez of Richmond , Virginia started Glide Skateboards to help start a codependence with Mother Earth for a sustainable future. Glide sells Drop, Ahi , Mali ', Stubbie, and Naner boards online as complete sets or by the deck.
BambooSK8: BambooSK8's decks are made of three and four layers of 100 percent cured bamboo that's not only resilient and less likely to break, but weighs between 2.5 and 2.85 pounds. The bamboo itself comes from managed forests that stabilize the earth as they grow, and produce 35 percent more oxygen than equivalent stands of trees. In addition, BambooSK8 uses water-based glues with no VOCs, they minimize landfill waste by recycling production waste into other bamboo products, and they reduce transportation pollution by maximizing container loads. If all that wasn't enough, the company also gives broken or worn-down bamboo decks to low-income families/charities or local artists to be used for various art projects; they donate a percentage of their profits to charities that give back to the earth; they're members of the Action Sports Environmental Coalition; and the owner of BambooSK8 owns the largest residential solar panel system in California!