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Reuse is a radical act: Protect our winters by giving old skis a shiny second life


Hey, hotdog. Yeah you. Now that you've dropped the biggest cliffs at your local hill, what's next? How can you get more rad?

According to Patagonia, we can all get a little more radical by repairing our used gear. The stuff we buy to go skiing takes more from than the Earth than it gives back. This open loop is warming the climate and, in effect, reducing our number of days on skis.

This fall, instead of shopping for a new ski coat, I fixed a few broken zippers and patched up my old one. Then I started looking around the garage for other gear to repair or reuse. Could I get radical by transforming my old skis into something new? With too many dings to re-sell on Craigslist, my old boards were destined to become another shotski, or the world’s stiffest adirondack chair. But, in my experience, a chair made from skis is about as comfortable as sitting in a snow bank. And I certainly don’t need more than one shotski. I wanted to reuse my old skis, but I was stumped. Then I ran into Heather Mullins.

For the past few years, Heather has been re-imagining the beauty of retired skis. Tinkering in her studio a few seasons ago, she discovered a way to give skis a second life by transforming them into wearable works of art. Her Apres Ski jewelry line features hand-crafted earrings and necklaces made from old skis. “Each ski has its own design that creates its value. It lives in its colors, lines, and structures. By seeing these in a different way, I can create something innovative out of something old,” says Heather. By transforming the character of old skis into something new, Heather is also confronting the challenges that come with America’s gear obsession.

Nowadays, our gear choices are virtually endless. The average American home contains 300,000 items and over $3,000 worth of unused goods. If you love to ski, there's probably an old pair of skis somewhere in the mix. Apres Ski Jewelry keeps those old skis out of the landfill. “Every season there are skis with new shapes and colors to work with. What’s really exciting though, is that I can help keep them out of our waste stream,” says Heather. In fact, re-using old gear can have a big impact on the environment.

A recent study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology suggests that global consumption is pushing us perilously close to the edge of peak gear. The study found that buying new stuff is responsible for over half of global greenhouse gas emissions. If you love deep winters, changing your consumption habits can have a drastic effect on your environmental footprint. According to Diana Ivanova, the study’s lead author, “we all like to put the blame on someone else, the government, or businesses. But between 60-80% of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption.” While bike commuting and shorter showers make us feel good about doing our part for the environment, the biggest change can come from reducing overall consumption and re-using existing products and materials. Instead of buying totally brand new products, look for gear that’s either recycled or uses reclaimed materials.

As this ski season kicks into high gear, get even more radical. Help Apres Ski reclaim existing materials and reduce consumer waste. Browse Apres Ski’s latest collection and give a ski a beautiful second life. Next season’s powder days may depend on it.