We’re always interested in supporting other brands and businesses that are shaping the future of skiing and helping skiers tread more lightly on the planet. EcoSki is a business with a clear mission: to give skiers better choices for obtaining their kit, limit unnecessary purchases (and waste) and keep mountain kit in circulation for longer.
To find out more, we caught up with Rachael Westbrook who launched EcoSki in 2020. We were massively impressed, not to mention enlightened, and will be partnering with EcoSki to raise further awareness about how we can all look fab on the slopes in high performance skiwear, whilst reducing our carbon footprint and skiing with a clear conscience.
AliKats: What is the inspiration behind EcoSki?
RW: Bringing up a family, I want them to live in a better world, where plastic isn’t found in the oceans and on the top of mountains. I want the next generation to think about repair, rental and recycle as the norm to make our hard-wearing ski kit last longer. I wanted to celebrate the achievements of ski brands and inspire others to do more, driving change among consumers. There is so much to do, but so much has already been done – we need to acknowledge that. As POW says: ‘progress, not perfection’.”
AliKats: Which sustainable ski brands are inspiring you at the moment?
RW: Every single one of the ski brands we stock inspire me for different reasons — sounds a cliché but that’s why we stock them. I absolutely love everything about Houdini – a new brand for us, they have developed a 100% merino shell layer. I love Maier Sports for their take-back scheme, Picture for their overall approach. They’d all be the first to say they’re not perfect, but if we all aimed for perfection I think we would all give up.
AliKats: What are the options for skiers looking to obtain kit in a more sustainable way for their next ski holiday?
RW: I always say that the greenest purchase is the one you don’t make. So I’d encourage skiers to re-proof, repair (we offer this service) or borrow from a friend. If you can’t do this, if it’s your first ski holiday for example, you can now easily rent ski kit – either from us, one of our competitors (I use the term loosely —the more the better) or directly from brands (Picture, Rab and Decathlon, for example, have just launched kit rental). If you really want to buy, try to choose something that you will use for years to come and consider one of the brands on our website, which has been carefully curated after a lot of research. If you find all the eco terms a little baffling, we’ve put together a glossary which we hope will be a handy reference”
AliKats: On your website you talk about ‘“kit with a conscience” what is this exactly?
RW: Traditional outdoor wear is made using environmentally impactful materials but there are some pioneering brands that are committed to reducing their own impact on both the environment and society. Kit that is made without harmful dyes, toxic waterproofing, without using child labour — the list is long and every new item has an impact on the planet but some brands definitely have a lower impact than others.
AliKats: It can be a challenge to keep your kit clean and maintain its water proof qualities, I certainly have gloves that no longer keep my hands dry after a season of use. Do you have any tips for skiers who want to preserve their kit for as long as possible? Are there re-proofing products that are lighter on the environment?
RW: My first tip would be to buy as well as you can. You’re not just paying for a label but very often better quality (not to mention manufacturing ethos) which will definitely give it a longer life. Then make sure you always air your clothing and dry it properly at the end of the day and after your holiday — only washing when absolutely necessary (to reduce microfibre shed as well as preserve its life). Gloves are tricky to wash, anyway, because they often have leather palms. Then yes, re-proofing kit makes a big difference —either with Nikwax (which is free of all nasties including PFC and comes in a recycled plastic bottle) or Grangers, which recently brought out a 2-in-1 clean and reproof product so you don’t have to run two cycles on the washing machine.”
AliKats: We all want to look and feel good in our ski gear. What if a skier wants to change up their kit, simply because they fancy a new design, colour or change, do you advise sticking with it or is it possible to do this in a responsible way?
RW: Of course we do! We’re all human! That’s where we hope our rental service comes in —during this first year of business we’ve had a lot of women in particular rent just a jacket or pants to upgrade their look. It’s not only a responsible way to upgrade but far cheaper, too.
AliKats: Kids outgrow kit at a ridiculously fast rate, what are the options for getting rid of the old kit responsibly?
RW: First of all I’d say ask around as your friends might want it for their kids — if their kit still has plenty of life, pass it on. If you want to make some pennies on the old kit for next year’s holiday you can sell it via our platform Ecoski’d or anywhere else you choose. We recommend One Tree at a Time in France and WhoSki who have a peer-to-peer site here in the UK. You can donate it to a charity or if it really can’t be passed on, see if the brand will take it back to recycle. If not, EcoSki have a partnership agreement with a recycling firm in the UK and will happily ensure it is recycled properly on your behalf. Another option is to repurpose it – stuffing for cushions or dog beds by shredding the fabric, or if it’s 100% natural, think about composting it!
After an interesting but ultimately unrewarding 10 years working in banking in London and Geneva, I made the move into full time mountain life and have never looked back. When I am not looking after our 3 energetic and hilarious children, I oversee the commercial and business change side of AliKats. I also helped set up a local environmental charity called Montagne Verte, along with Kat. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn
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