Sustainability and Responsibility
We are similar to most folks when it comes to looking out for the bigger picture. It definitely resonates with us and yet we often choose things that are at odds with this sentiment, like driving cars and buying things we tell ourselves we "need".
When I started building helmets and then trying to bring them to market I didn't have sustainability foremost in mind. Mostly I thought they were beautiful and worked well. But I think maybe that beauty, attraction and connection is nature's own advertising campaign to promote itself. So, after reflecting on this subject I think maybe I was an impulse buyer and that I got sold sustainability all made to look fancy with beautiful wood grains.
The hardwoods and most of the softwoods we use are salvaged from trees that would otherwise be destined for fuel chips, fire wood, other aritisan projects or natural decay in the forest. All of the sawdust, chips and splinters we create when making a helmet are, of course, a natural material that can be returned to the ground to decay and re-enter the natural cycle harmlessly and helpfully. Our "waste" material is not garbage in the same way that, say, a discarded plastic bag is. Using natural materials to build useful products is about as sustainable as it gets most of the time.
Our Douglas Fir comes from wood that is harvested for making building materials. Sometimes, even here, we are able to get what are called end pieces. These are parts of the lumber that are a byproduct of the milling process and usually end up as fuel or compost.
The Cork that is used is an even better story. It is harvested from living trees, the Cork Oak, without damaging the tree or reducing its lifespan. It comes from the very special bark of this tree species and it is hand harvested. Cork is recyclable as well as renewable and biodegradable.
Using helmets just as an example, If one person can figure out how to build a product with natural materials that works and costs not so much more than some of the existing helmets available than what could 2 or 10 or a few thousand folks figure out. Are we really stuck building with only plastics and synthetics? Is it possible to do more? Could we build just a few more things differently? Is it worth it?
We build our helmets here in Oregon. If you live in North America, this keeps your money closer to you, period. That is not a patriotic thing to do, or, at least, that's not how I think of it. If one wants to be a part of sustaining and implementing a vision for their community they have to invest, literally, in their community. Money sent to places one has less connection to is not just money that will likely never return to the community it is also control and influence that is forfeited. Such money also lands in its new "home" where any vision or mandate that the customer has may be less relevant or, at best, only partially understood. It may arrive at its new destination lacking purpose and yet this very vacuum of values is carried to this new community and affects the evolution of that community. We don't claim this is "Irresponsible", often there is no choice, but we will claim that, when you can, spending your money close to you on the companies, services and products you are most connected to is a way of taking control over the impact your money has after it leaves your hands.
I believe how we spend our money is, arguably, the most powerful thing most people do on a daily basis, whether one choose to think about it or not.