THE JONES
ECO-EVOLUTION

Celebrating the roots and future of our quest to reduce our environmental impact and fight climate change.

Ten years. One mission.

Design innovative mountain gear that sets new performance standards and be a leader in manufacturing sustainability, environmental outreach and backcountry education.

That’s the Jones mission statement, and though these exact words were only carved in stone a few years back, the principles this statement is built upon have not changed since day one. When Jeremy Jones founded the company in 2010, his goal was to make high performance shred gear that reflected not only his passion for snowboarding, but his dedication to fighting climate change and protecting the planet. May sound like standard fare for an outdoor company mission statement in 2020, but in 2010 these were revolutionary founding principles for a snowboard brand. Back then, every brand wanted to make the hottest boards, but almost no brand was actively talking about sustainability, let alone giving back to environmental causes. Same story was true in the ski world. Like many other industries at that time, the vast majority of the winter sports industry was still living the dream of ignorance is bliss about the environmental impacts of their business.

We were definitely not environmental saints back in 2010 either, but we are grateful to have taken our first steps towards our sustainability and outreach goals in our first year of production. What we now call our Eco-Performance design philosophy began with the decision to use 100% recycled sidewalls our first year and our motivation to become 1% For The Planet members in 2015 began with our first donation to Protect Our Winters in 2010. These small, but impactful choices made ten years ago became the foundation of a legacy that now defines our brand. We've always been focused on reducing our impact and supporting organizations that fight global warming because recycling alone won't solve the climate crisis. By expanding upon these efforts over the past decade, we’ve strived to inspire our customers and the outdoor industry to help us make the world a better place - an achievement we are sincerely proud of. 

 

The environmental efforts we have made in the last ten years are without a doubt one of the most important stories of our brand’s history. To celebrate this story we’re excited to share new perspective on the past, present and future of our sustainability and climate change action efforts from the three people who have led the charge on these initiatives. Read on to learn more about our milestones in manufacturing sustainability from Jones Brand Manager Xavier Nidecker, the goals and current agenda of Protect Our Winters from Jeremy Jones and the major successes and scope of the rainforest reforestation non-profit Association Community Carbon Trees from organization founder Jennifer Leigh Smith.

Eco-performance
 

Jones Brand Manager Xavier Nidecker grew up in his family snowboard factory and has been in charge of Jones snowboard production since the foundation of the brand in 2010. He works with our factory partners and material suppliers to help innovate new sustainable materials and manufacturing processes that bring Jeremy’s design concepts to life with as minimal environmental impact as possible.

"The ski and snowboard hardgoods industry was very slow to embrace sustainability. We had to look outside the ski industry to find ideas and invent new manufacturing processes to start to reduce the environmental footprint of our production."

Xavier Nidecker

It has always been our mission, to be the premium, environmentally responsible brand.
 

Xavier Nidecker

"In 2010, one of the only recycled material we could source was black sidewalls and they were only available from one supplier. No other brands were using the recycled sidewalls at that time because they were more expensive and black was the only color option. It was a big decision to go with recycled for our first board collection because it limited us cosmetically, but that has always been our mission, to be the premium, environmentally responsible brand."

– Xavier Nidecker

We had to inspire our suppliers and factory partners to help us find new sustainable solutions. To produce the original Flagship with the wood veneer topsheet we invented a new post-press wood oiling process that allowed us to avoid finishing the board with toxic varnish.

Xavier Nidecker

Flagship eco-performance milestones

2010

  • Wood veneer

  • Hickory sidewalls

2011

  • Recycled sidewalls

2014

  • Bio factory wax

2017

  • Sustainable Basalt stringers

  • Sustainable Flax topsheet

  • Wend Natural Wax

2020

  • Super Sap Bio Resin epoxy

  • Basalt/Flax stringers

  • Engineered veneer topsheet

Now ten years running, the Flagship has featured a sustainable (wood veneer or flax) topsheet. Wood or flax topsheets eliminate the need for a plastic topsheet or solvent varnish, two of the least sustainable materials used in snowboard production. Starting in 2011, the Flagship was also built with recycled ABS plastic sidewalls. Nine model years later we have saved thousands of pounds of virgin plastic and petroleum based solvent using these two more sustainable materials.

The 2019/20 Flagship is truly the most sustainable snowboard we have ever made.

Changing our production to bio-resin last year had the biggest impact we’ve ever made on reducing the carbon footprint of our boards.

We recently completed a life cycle assessment of our production to calculate the approximate Co2 impact of a snowboard. We found out that epoxy resin accounts for 30% of the Co2 in a snowboard, by far the most of any material or production process. Switching to bio-resin amounted to a bigger Co2 reduction than using any other sustainable material.

Xavier Nidecker

"The move to bio-resin was also the most difficult production change we’ve ever made. We’d been testing bio-resins for seven years starting at our previous factory in Austria. The issue was that epoxy resin is the secret sauce of a snowboard, it influences every aspect of a board’s performance and durability. Once a factory has perfected their epoxy formula NO ONE wants to touch it because it requires re-testing every different board construction to make sure the epoxy is bonding correctly. When you have no delams, NEVER change a resin - that has always been the mantra of ski and snowboard factories. All the bio-resins we had tested previously did not bond well so we held off on using them. Now there are multiple high performance bio-resins on the market that perform equal to standard epoxy in bonding tests. They cost more, but for us it was a no brainer to make the switch for the C02 reductions."

– Xavier Nidecker

"Another big step we made was eliminating the use of solvent varnish from our production in 2016. Most snowboards use a cheap plastic topsheet that is coated with a petroleum based varnish for durability and UV protection. The varnish is really bad for the environment and even worse for the factory employees. It’s super toxic to work with. After several years of development we began using a bio-plastic topsheet made from castor beans. The bio-plastic was a win win as it allowed us to eliminate varnish and it’s much more scratch resistant than a standard varnished plastic topsheet."

– Xavier Nidecker

By 2030 I hope the entire snowboard industry is using bio-resin made with 100% bio content. That would make a huge difference in the sustainability of our industry. I also hope we have a clean solution for the end-of-life of a snowboard. There have been some recent advancements in being able to break down a dead snowboard and recycle the materials, but this technology is still at an early stage. In the future we want to be able to take back dead boards from consumers and completely recycle them. 

Xavier Nidecker

Protect Our Winters
 

Jeremy Jones is a man of many hats. He’s a pro snowboarder, a brand owner and the founder of the climate change action non-profit Protect our Winters (POW). As a member of 1% For The Planet, Jones Snowboards contributes 1% of our revenue to help support POW’s efforts to fight climate change. On top of the financial contribution, Jeremy has put in countless hours working on behalf of the non-profit including substantial time spent in Washington D.C. lobbying lawmakers to take action on climate change.

"My only goal when I founded POW was to slow down climate change. I didn’t exactly know what the right steps would be to do that so I started reaching out to experts in the climate field and asked them to be a part of POW. With the help of the experts, we began breaking down our mission into incremental steps to avoid getting overwhelmed by the huge scope of the challenge we faced. Looking back at our original messaging the first things we focused on were trying to change personal habits like using less electricity and using reuseable water bottles." 

Jeremy Jones

"When I started POW I would have never thought the front lines of climate action would be Capitol Hill. It was never my intention to get political, and it was with reluctance that we came to accept that without policy change we were not going to see the necessary Co2 reductions. Back in 2008, when Obama ran for president against McCain, fighting climate change was not hung up on politics like it is now. Both candidates accepted the facts of climate change, they just argued about what the right solutions were, which is a valid debate. Sadly, we are now back to debating the facts of climate change along political lines."

– Jeremy Jones

One of our biggest successes was helping fight attacks on the Clean Air Act in 2011 and 2012. Republican lawmakers introduced several bills during this time that would have rolled back existing Clean Air Act public health protections and limits on emissions. This coincided with the time social media was really gaining traction. POW was an early adopter to instagram and embraced influential people on the platform. By using the power of social media we made a concerted effort to rally people around fighting these bills and let lawmakers know where we stood on the issue. Based on our work with that issue we ended up getting a call from the White House. The Obama administration told us they had been tracking the work we had been doing and they estimated we’d reached over 100 million people on social media regarding the Clean Air Act. That campaign is what gave us a voice and a seat at the table in D.C. for climate discussions that continues to grow today.

Jeremy Jones

Another one of POW’s most gratifying successes was in the 2018 Montana Senate race. We fought to get incumbent Senator Tester re-elected who is a climate champion, re-elected. The Trump administration and the extraction industry dumped a ton of money into the race to try and replace Tester with a Republican Senator that would allow them to extract more resources from Montana. It was a really tight race and we helped bring a bunch of new voters to the election which helped Senator Tester win. To dig in on that, and hold off the Trump administration in that race felt really good.

Jeremy Jones

"My hope from the get go was that the whole outdoor industry would come together around fighting climate change. Because as we’ve seen with the increase of forest fires, it’s not just the winter sports community that is feeling the effects of climate change. The entire outdoor community needs to come together and say, ‘We want climate champions in office and we’re going to use our power to make it happen. Elected officials better have our interests in mind, otherwise we are going to replace you with someone who does.’ Look at the NRA. They are the greatest example of that. If you vote for gun control you know the NRA is going to come after you in the next election and do everything they can to replace you with a pro-gun candidate. The outdoor industry doesn’t do that. A lot of these outdoor companies are huge jobs creators which is powerful political currency. Collectively our industry would have a really strong voice if we all banded together." 

Jeremy Jones

I hope in 2030 we are not debating the facts of climate change and we don’t have to fight like hell to get climate champions in office. I also hope we are embracing solutions to reducing Co2 emissions at a much faster rate than we are now. Right now, we are just fighting for the idea that there is a solution and that climate change is real which is shocking to me.

Jeremy Jones

"Seeing how the world has come together to fight COVID-19 has been really impressive. That’s the effort we need to stop climate change. Climate is not as acute of a pandemic, but the scientists tell us that the economic disruption and loss of life from the effects of global warming will be far greater than the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve also been on a trend, and especially in the USA, of killing the expert and ignoring science because we don’t like what they are telling us. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that it’s really dangerous when a society stops listening to the experts and science. We are doing a great job of listening to the experts right now, but if we had done a better job early on, the effects of COVID-19 would not have been as bad. My hope is that the world learns from this pandemic and begins listening to the experts about the disastrous effects of climate change if left unchecked."

– Jeremy Jones

Association Community
Carbon Trees
 

The Association Community Carbon Trees (ACCT) is a non-profit rainforest reforestation organization based in Costa Rica. ACCT reforests previously clear cut swaths of rainforest land with a wide diversity of native tropical trees. Reforestation fights climate change as forests pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and recycle it into oxygen. The benefits of reforestation in Costa Rica and other tropical regions are greater than most other places on Earth because trees are able to grow 365 days-a-year in warm tropical climates. The faster a tree grows, the faster it starts pulling in CO2. Veteran forest activist and former lawyer, Jennifer Leigh Smith, who goes by the nickname ‘Tree Jenny’, founded ACCT in 2009. Jeremy Jones and his family travelled to Costa Rica in 2014 to meet Jenny and volunteer in the ACCT tree nurseries. Jeremy was so impressed by Jenny’s work with ACCT that he began donating a portion of Jones Snowboard’s 1% For The Planet donation to ACCT starting in 2015.

"Our goal in founding Community Carbon Trees was to solve the poverty crisis that causes deforestation while simultaneously growing new rainforest. We did this by providing long term fair pay jobs growing trees that were alternatives to cutting down trees for money or cattle farming or real estate development. The men and women working with us don’t just plant trees, they get paid to take care of every tree they plant for 6 years."

– Jennifer Leigh Smith

We have employed over 100 different Costa Rican men and women in the last ten years. Right now we have seven people working full time in our tree nurseries and over 30 people working part time planting and maintaining trees during the rainy season. We are also particularly proud of creating local administrative jobs for two women by empowering them with computers and new skills.

Jennifer Leigh Smith

We’ve absolutely grown a new rainforest here and we’re so proud of it

Jennifer Leigh Smith

"The Eco Chontales project that Jones has supported for the past six years is one of our most successful reforestation sites. The four Costa Rican brothers that own the land have created a beautiful eco-tourism destination that features one of the most beautiful and clean waterfalls in the country. This land used to be dead and barren with pesticides and cow manure running into the river. We planted 9000 trees on this former farm and the land has changed into a garden of eden with trees already fruiting and rare species like pumas and monkeys returning. We’ve absolutely grown a new rainforest here and we’re so proud of it. This 2020 planting season we have plans to add another 2500 trees at the location."

– Jennifer Leigh Smith

"We’re also thrilled about our budding collaboration with the Massai clans in Kenya, Africa. The leader of the Massai Center For Regenerative Pastoralism asked for our help replicating our unique fair pay working model in Kenya to help fight desertification and animal habitat loss by planting trees. Since we began working with the Massai in 2017 they have created a successful program and have already planted 1200 trees."

Jennifer Leigh Smith

ACCT is currently working with 68 farm owners in Costa Rica and ten families in Kenya. In ten years we’ve planted over 21,000 trees including 125 different native tree species. These trees have re-established rainforest and re-connected biological food corridors on over 740 acres of previously deforested land.

Jennifer Leigh Smith

"It’s been incredibly fulfilling to see how the farmers we work with have changed their view on how to profit and protect their land. No one is using herbicide and pesticide on their farms which is a huge success story, especially in Costa Rica where these chemicals are used liberally to clear land. They’ve also stopped slash and burn farming practices which is very destructive to the soil. Many farm families have learned about the value added business of their forests and have begun selling harvested fruit and forest products at local farmers markets.  Our partner farms also collect seeds for us and participate in community activism to stop neighbors from cutting down more rainforest. We’ve noticed that communities begin to collaborate better on all levels once we begin work there. We foster that by teaching basic non-violent communication and self-management practices as a part of our introduction process when we begin working with a new community."

– Jennifer Leigh Smith

"One of the social highlights of our work is the promotion of women’s employment. We developed a fertile soil brigade where women make organic compost in their own homes. Our organization then buys the sacks of soil from these women to use in our three community tree nurseries, as well as for sale to the public. Creating job opportunities for women working in our tree nurseries has also been highly beneficial for the education of local children. Women talk about the trees more at the dinner table and that respect for the forest rubs off on their children. This finding was also seen in a social impact study conducted by the United Nations in 2013."

Jennifer Leigh Smith

"Our biggest challenge has been educating potential supporters about why planting trees along the equator is so important and why the local people must get paid long term to do the work of growing them. It is hard for us to compete with the green washing, publicity driven “Save The Rainforest” type organizations that offer to plant a tree for as little as $1. If you are planting a tree for $1 you are asking the local people to work for free and you are not maintaining the tree until it is mature and actually capable of sequestering Co2. We know for a fact that it takes many years of follow-up labor to successfully grow a tree in the tropics. Not enough people understand that so they donate to organizations that promise really big tree planting numbers because it makes them feel good about how many trees were planted with their donation."

– Jennifer Leigh Smith

Between my work with ACCT and previous reforestation work I estimate i’ve helped grow almost 600,000 trees in the last 20 years. By joining efforts with other reforestation organizations and private clients I hope ACCT can help me grow another 400,000 trees in ten years all while providing hundreds of new jobs for local communities. That’s why they call me ‘Tree Jenny’, it’s my personal goal to grow one million trees! We have a lot of work and fundraising to do to reach that milestone, but it’s realistic if we can encourage some bigger donations from corporations in coming years.

Jennifer Leigh Smith

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