Friday, April 22, 2011

Sustainability and snowboarding...what does it really mean?

What pops into your mind when you think of the word "sustainability"? Being a responsible "green" citizen? Living in a house that has all of the latest Energy Star appliances? Conserving water? Is it a lifestyle that you strive towards? One definition of sustainability is to continue a defined behavior indefinitely1.

While sustainability has many different meanings to us all nowadays, the term commonly refers to three aspects-environmental, social, and economic factors.

Environmental sustainability is the ability of the environment to support and maintain a level of defined quality and natural resource use indefinitely.

Social sustainability refers to society's ability to function at a defined level of well being and maintain quality of life indefinitely.

Economic sustainability is the ability of an economy to maintain a defined level of production indefinitely.

There are many visual attempts to depict how these three aspects of sustainability are interdependent upon one another; however, the easiest way for me to grasp the concept is the yin yang. The balance between each aspect is more often out of balance with each. For example, I always try to buy organic food (deceasing the environmental side of impact), but it is often expensive (increasing the economic side of impact).

The concept of sustainability can actually be pretty philosophical. The intention of this blog is not to focus on all three aspects of sustainability (although we must keep those in mind), but to focus primarily on the environmental aspects. 

My hope is to evaluate the different materials and processes used in the snowboarding industry that are being considered as sustainable or having a low impact on the environment. What makes these materials sustainable and does their use improve society's ability to indefinitely support what is important to us?

How can we shred forever?