This week The Sundance Channel's Big Ideas For A small Planet takes aim at the world of sports, and what some companies and individuals are doing to make equipment sustainable and eco-friendly. Following their usual format, Big Ideas For A Small Planet zooms in on three story segments.
Craig Calfee, of Calfee Designs is a well known designer of high end bicycles for discerning enthusiasts. Back in 1997, due to the high cost and shortage of carbon fiber, he started to explore alternative materials. One day while teasing his dog with a piece of bamboo he had a ‘EUREKA’ moment. Bamboo is very light, very plentiful, and incredibly strong — the bamboo bike was born. It turns out that bamboo is actually stronger than carbon fiber, and it is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet; here is a truly sustainable raw material.
Craig takes us through the building process, and it is amazing. To join the pieces together a combination of hemp fiber and epoxy is used. The finished product is superb, and according to riders, the bamboo absorbs the kinks and ruts, giving a very smooth ride. This eco-friendly bike now represents about 20% of sales for the company.
Jason Salfi is the co-founder of Comet Skateboards. He points out that skateboarding is becoming more and more popular, annual sales have been growing every year, yet many of the skateboards on sale use non renewable wood resources, and lots of toxins in the manufacturing process, in the forms of glue and lacquers. Comet uses water-based paints and is also experimenting with a soy-based polymer that will be used to protect the deck. Jason wants to create a ‘closed loop’ recycle process. When you are finished with the product, it is compostable. I had the pleasure of chatting With Jason about Comet Skateboards.
Comet Skateboards has been around for ten years; have you always been eco-friendly or is this a recent development?
We never said we want to be the “greenest company’’, we just want to make the best boards possible. For us that includes making a minimal impact on the forest, the air, the water, etc. From day one we have used FSC woods, water coatings, and inks… We feel like these are the best materials available. After all we are making things for young people, if we offer them a product that compromises their future, what good are we to them?