Store it, dump it, hang it on the wall. Now there's another eco-alternative. Donate your old snowboard to NoK Boards for a new lease of life on the road.
Two French snowboard product engineers, Vincent Gelin and Adrien Reguis, are the latest eco-warriors from the winters sports community to join the environmental protection movement by creating NoK Boards in Grenoble recycling old snowboards into new skateboards...
How did the idea of recycling snowboards into skateboards originate?
To build a skateboard deck out of an old or broken snowboard is nothing new, snowboarders did it probably since the origin of this sport. This is what we did with some prototypes when we were employed as product engineers for the Rossignol Snowboards brand. But the backstage of this industry is not just a couple of useless boards. We realized that tons of unused and virtually unrecyclable snowboards end up being trashed or incinerated. Managing the end of life of sports gear is a huge challenge to both consumers and the industry. As snowboarders, skaters and nature-lovers, it was natural for us to try to push our passions toward a more circular and responsible economy. Following a decade of work in the snowboard industry, we decided to combine our expertise – our savoir faire AND our savoir-vivre – that little je ne sais quoi that gets us out of bed in the morning.
How many snowboards do you recycle?
NoK Boards was born at the very end of 2017 and we launched the first skateboard production through a crowdfunding campaign in June 2018. It has been a real success and a great surprise when we passed 260 percent over the initial goal at the end of the campaign, which means almost 200 boards pre-ordered for this summer. Many shops who discovered NoK during those weeks are very enthusiastic with the concept and the style of the decks, this is why we plan to have few hundred more boards ordered before the end of the year.
This represents hundreds of snowboards saved from the trash for a better life and we have a target of 3000 skateboards in the coming years. We are already working on new developments in order to bring together products to the market via the same circular economy concept.
Where do you get the old snowboards from?
We come from the snowboard industry, this is where we discovered how difficult it is for a company to manage the waste and rejected products. This is why we work with snowboard brands as a partnership to get our 'raw materials'. We also work with the professional snowboarders who are aware of environmental issues. After having travelled the planet and ridden the highest summits, they send us some of their boards at the end of the season. This pro-riders’ community is called NoK Family and we are both honoured and proud to count Xavier De Le Rue and Marion Haerty, two international snowboarding icons, as well as Ludovic Guillot-Diat, Clément Bochatay, and Manu Petit as first members.
But we also have a lot of demand from people who want to give us their old boards to make a point about the environment, clean the garage or get a custom skateboard from their own snowboard. Therefore, we plan in the near future to propose two options: people can give us their old board and get a discount on the in-line NoK skateboards or get a custom skate from their snowboard.
How does the recycling process work?
Upcycling means that our products are either unique or very limited editions. Each board’s design depends on the snowboard it’s cut out from, with its very own graphics and backstory.
At first, we select and collect the unused snowboards at the company warehouse. We analyse the shape, flex and graphic to define the correct skateboard model. Then we proceed to the production, using a very special machine to cut the deck with high precision. We varnish the edges to protect the wood core from physical damage and humidity and we work with a local company that supports people with disabilities to assemble all trucks and wheels. The last step is in our workshop where we define the grip design according to the original snowboard graphic.
Do NoK Boards look / feel any different?
Yes, this is one of the interesting things of upcycling. Because they’re made using wood/fibre composites, our boards give a whole new skateboarding experience. The pop, inherited from the snowboard, lets you accelerate with each turn and comfortably and nimbly keep up your speed. Moreover, we receive snowboards in plenty of different colours and beautiful graphics that make our skateboards look very different and unique.
How does this all help the environment?
NoK is short for 'Not OK' a term used in the industry to label products that for some reason don’t pass quality control. By tapping into this overlooked stock of raw material, we preserve natural resources and promote a circular economy. Each skateboard we produce saves 20kg of CO2, the equivalent of 100kg of potatoes! (See NoK website for regular updates on number of boards upcycled and CO2 savings.)
We believe that non-profit organizations are a key to finding solutions in the field for the environment, this is why we donate 10 percent of the profit from the skateboard sales on our website to our partner associations POW (Protect Our Winters) and Mountain Riders, both dedicated to protecting the mountains.
Skateboarding is also good for health and the earth as you go from the office to the party or from your home to the movies without using any other energy than your legs and freedom. Obviously we are not bringing a revolutionary concept to the world, but we try our best to find solutions for people who want change in a better way - and we will continue as long as it makes sense for us.
How much do they cost and where can we buy a NoK Board?
Nowadays we have developed a line of Cruisers and Longboards with a price range of 149€ to 249€ for a complete board. We have our own e-shop www.nokboards.com online and skate shop partners including Concept Board in Grenoble and Barik Surf In Montalivet where you can find NoK skateboards. You will also be able to buy some of our products in concept stores and we plan to develop other partnerships with retailers in the coming months. Last but not least, we develop very special skateboards out of the NoK Family pro-rider snowboards that you can find exclusively on our website. Those skateboards are unique and bring the story of each pro-owner right beneath your feet with 30 percent of profits directly donated to the association partners.