Ask Zimo: Recycle all types of ski gear and keep it out of the landfill

pzimowsky@idahostatesman.comMarch 27, 2014 

Q: Is there any place in Boise to drop off old ski gear so that it can be recycled? I have some 15-year-old stuff that no one would want to use and it seems wasteful to just toss it in the trash.

STEVE RUSIN, via email

A: There are several options for recycling those skis and gear.

You can find a lot of old skis at second-hand stores, and even though they will probably never see the slopes again, they do get purchased. Any skis that don't sell at Idaho Youth Ranch retail stores are brought to the Youth Ranch's Outlet and sold at reduced prices.

"We are pretty successfully in liquidating those in that fashion," said Richard Cline, director of retail stores for Idaho Youth Ranch.

Another really good option is to donate them to the Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation Ski Swap, which is held in November.

Even though skis and other equipment may be too old to use on the slopes, people who are handy shop at the swap for stuff to build furniture or fences, said Shannon Carrell, BBSEF director.

She says old equipment is turned into coffee tables, lawn chairs and benches. Some school kids made a Christmas tree out of old skis. And some people make cool Christmas tree stands with old skis.

I've used old skis to make a sled for hauling gear or kids into the backcountry. Roger Phillips mounted LED lights on a snowboard, which adds an outdoorsy flair for interior decorating.

Joe Koehler at McU Sports in Boise is a ski collector and has made everything from hat and coat hangers to ski racks for the garage. He especially likes to make wind chimes out of old ski poles.

You also can use old ski poles for a spare hiking poles or wading staffs for fishing.

Recycling ski gear has caught on in other parts of the country. The Snow Sports Recycling Program (SSRP) recycles skis, snowboards, boots, poles and helmets to keep them out of the landfill.

The program is four years old and has recycled about 350 tons of discarded snow-sports equipment that was collected at five retail stores in the Denver area.

Steel, aluminum, plastic and wood and fiberglass are turned into building materials and lawn and garden items.

You can check out the program at snowsports.org. Search for "recycling skis."

The group has since expanded into Reno and Salt Lake City this past season and plans to expand nationwide in the future.

In the meantime, unless someone wants to run a semi full of old ski gear to Salt Lake City, our local ski swap is one of the best places to drop off your unwanted gear, no matter how old it is.

Proceeds from the swap go to the Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation to help youths compete in ski and snowboard competitions. For more information, go to bbsef.org.

Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors

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