Green Guide To Recycling Ski Gear

By Mr. Everest

Ski Equipment Doesn't Have to Go to the Landfill. Photo © Liesl Clark

We’re at the height of the ski season and if you’re like me, this is a great time to start demo-ing new gear. But what to do with the old? Here are a few options I’ve been able to find:

You can always list your gear on Craigslist or take it to Play It Again Sports to find a buyer.

Joining your local Buy Nothing group and giving them away to your neighbors is a great way to keep your ski and snowboard gear out of landfills and still cruising the slopes. Some people are cool with using outdated gear. My wife, for example, skied the slopes for 15 seasons on her old Black Diamond AT gear. And our 12 year old son is going to give them a try on his first hut trip this week.

Donate your gear to a local youth ski program or adaptive ski program. If you check with your ski areas or local ski shops, you’ll most likely find a program that would be happy to use your equipment that’s in good condition and not outdated. Snowpals of Tahoe is just one example.

You could always start your own ski swap, enticing others in your community to bring their gear so families can outfit the kids with neighbor’s hand-me-downs. It’s a great way to keep skiing affordable for us all.

Out With the Old and In With the New. Outfitting Your Family in New Ski Gear Means You Need to Find Green Means to Get Rid of Your Old Gear. Photo © Pete Athans

Yankee Magazine has a great article, with plans, showing you how to make your own ski Adirondack chair. Some people build cool fences with stockpiled skis.


The North Face stores will take all of your ski clothing (hats, gloves, pants, bibs, jackets, socks), ski boots, goggles, and ski helmets. Their Clothes The Loop program sends the gear to a company called I:CO which shreds it into its elements and makes new products with it. My article about this great program goes more into depth about this the Clothes The Loop initiative in all of The North Face stores, and where to find those stores.

Ski poles? They’re mostly made of metal, so taking them to your nearest metal recycling center might be your best bet. Poles haven’t changed much over the years, though, so be sure to try giving them away before you send them to metal recycling.

If you live or ski in Colorado or Utah, a great ski industry recycling service was set up by the Snow Sports Recycling Program, which recycles ski gear collected at participating stores. I can’t find a list of the stores any longer but calling the phone number listed on the page, under “Waste Not” could likely get you the names of stores near you that’ll recycle your old gear. This program turns your gear into chips that will be turned into new goods. They’ll take skis, snowboards, boots, helmets, bindings and poles. These materials create waste streams that are approximately 5% steel, 25 % aluminum, 60% plastic and the balance are wood and fiberglass, all reusable in new applications.

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Ski Poles Are Mostly Made of Metal © Liesl Clark

If you live near Aspen, CO you can contact Reeski to see if they’ll take your skis and boards to turn into cool looking furniture.

There’s no need for our gear to end up in the landfill. If you’re stumped about a particular item and want to find a reduce, reuse, recycle option for it, drop us a line in the comments below and we’ll get on it.

Clothes The Loop With The North Face

I’m excited to make a huge discovery, for those of us who ache when we throw into the landfill big chunks of plastic that could likely be repurposed into something else. The North Face stores will take not only your old clothes, shoes, and outdoor gear like backpacks and tents, but they’ll also take your old ski boots! Please read this article by my husband that tells you all about this great initiative.

By Pete Athans

Living on an island means we don’t have access to a lot of services and conveniences. We like that.

My 7-year-old daughter on a ferry boat ride to our Puget Sound island. Photo © Liesl Clark

A 35-minute ferry ride delivers us into what feels like the bowels of Seattle, ejecting ferry-riders beneath a highway underpass, a continuous stream of cars, buses and trucks humming above. Just around the corner from the hum of the waterfront is one of The North Face’s first stores to open in the U.S.

Delivered by ferry to the Seattle waterfront. Photo © Liesl Clark

I’ve worked for the company for nearly 30 years, and I still love walking into this special Seattle space. Behind the modern store facade, you still have a sense of the original post and beam construction, probably used for shipping or as a warehouse years ago. Today, I’m even more proud to step into the store with my family, carrying our used clothing, textiles, and gear that we aren’t able to sustainably throw away on our small island. In fact, most people have a tough time finding places to discard used clothing and specialized outdoor gear in this country. But every store in the US that The North Face operates now has a “Clothes The Loop” box where you can drop off your used and worn-up clothes, gear, and shoes. You’ll get a discount on your next purchase at The North Face store as a reward for your efforts.

Here’s how you can find a store near you that is participating in this program. Click on their Find A Store link. Then, at the bottom of the map, click on the boxes that say “The North Face Stores” and “The North Face Outlets.” Those are the stores owned and operated by The North Face that have this program.

Denim has value. Don't throw it away! It can be used as insulation. Photo © Liesl Clark

The North Face has initiated this much-needed clothing, gear, and shoe recycling program, they call “Clothes the Loop,” in a partnership with I:CO an international textile and shoe recycler that breaks materials down into 400 categories for carpet padding, stuffing for new toys, and fibers for new clothing. I:CO currently processes about 500 tons of used items every day in 74 countries. They have collection points all over Europe and in the USA.

Drop your old apparel, any brand, into a "Clothes the Loop" bin at The North Face store.

Here’s a list of the kinds of items you can take to your nearest store and put in their box:

Old Clothing


Hiking Boots


Bed Spreads


Table Cloths

Fabric Scraps

Ski Boots



Climbing Harnesses


Stuffed Animals

We’ve taken samplings of just about everything on the list above to their store. It’s reduced our family’s solid waste significantly each year. According to the EPA Office of Solid Waste, Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year, and this figure is rapidly growing. Add your outdoor gear to that figure and surely it’s over 100 pounds. We’re very excited to hear that they’ll take ski boots. Before this, there were no options in the Seattle area and most cities for ski boot recycling.


Our family has a lot of boots, for every kind of snow sport. We’re probably not unlike many families. © Liesl Clark

Before you take your items in to The North Face, if any of them are usable, please try to give them away to someone who might be able to use them, through a project like your local Buy Nothing group. When my family travels to the Himalaya, we always bring a few extra duffels of clothing and shoes. We work with communities in Upper Mustang who are in dire need of good shoes.

Since children grow so fast, it isn’t hard to pass on our own children’s lightly worn fleece, outerwear, hiking boots, hats and gloves to kids in remote mountain communities. It’s the least we can do in a high mountain environment where people only have access to poorly made Chinese apparel.

A child in Samdzong getting medical care from our expedition doctor. Photo © Liesl Clark

My children on their way to Upper Mustang, Nepal. Photo © Liesl Clark

My children on their way to Upper Mustang, Nepal. Photo © Liesl Clark

If we’re more mindful of our textile and outdoor gear waste, we can each make a difference. We know the textile industry adds tremendous environmental stress on our planet, but by giving away our usable our clothing and gear and then recycling what’s un-wearable, we can reduce the demand for virgin materials in new clothing and conserve the energy that goes into making fibers for fabrics.

Recycling your worn out textiles and shoes at The North Face is fun. Photo © Liesl Clark

For us islanders, this new drop box at The North Face will be a welcome destination for fabrics and apparel we’ve been stockpiling in our homes in hopes that a recycler would appear in our midst. Your jeans that have holes in the knees and gloves that are nearly shredded from outdoor use are welcome at the Clothes the Loop bin.

My favorite TNF gloves, now safely in the bin. Photo © Liesl Clark

Hope to see you there, recycling your hole-y socks and dented hats.

IMG_3361 Photo © Liesl Clark