Groundhog Day has come to pass and to the dismay of many, Punxsutawney Phil, the little scoundrel, saw his shadow and retreated to his den. We have already suffered through the first half of his extended winter sentence, but there are three more weeks yet, which means three more weeks to contemplate which new longboard or cruiser to cop for Spring’s pavement shredding pleasures. Enter, Comet Skateboards.
Industry: Skateboards & Apparel
Certifications: Certified B Corps (122), Cradle To Cradle
Location: Lansing, NY
Skater owned since 1997, Comet Skateboards is committed to providing high quality, durable, and sustainable skateboards. The boards themselves are sure to turn heads, as each is artfully designed and unique, the graphics for which are periodically produced by fans of the brand in their online forums. When analyzing the action sports industry, Comet stands out as a leader in social and environmental responsibility. Their B Corporation status shows a commitment to these principles, creating equity not just for company owners, but for employees, the community, and the environment.
Keep It Local: Few things can fight the adverse effects of climate change like locally sourced materials and community can. This cuts down on fuel consumption during transportation, allows local suppliers to experience a greater share of the benefits provided by the end product, creates a trustworthy connection throughout the supply chain and in the end, produces higher quality products.
Comet is the cool neighborhood kid down the street with all the gnarliest gear. The gear is gnarly because it is built sustainably, built to last, and built locally. Their facilities are located on the east coast where they are the shortest distance possible from where their Maple is harvested. According to Comet, “Being close to our suppliers creates a connection that allows us to work on custom formulations and forestry techniques that ensure generations of trees in the future and a healthy forest.” They consistently engage with their wood suppliers to meet the highest standards of forestry techniques, which in turn sets the standard and secures sustainable sourcing for the entire industry, not just Comet itself.
Not to mention, over 50% of Comet’s ownership is located in the same community as more than 2/3 of their total workforce, 40% of their expenditures are directed towards local suppliers, more than 75% of employees participate in company-wide service days, all employees are paid a living wage, over 50% of employee health insurance premiums are paid by the company, and over 50% of employees work in “Enterprise Zones”, which are government established, often low-income areas recovering from disaster, such as a flood or hurricane. Businesses in these zones are encouraged, through cost savings, to open their doors and hire local residents within these areas in order to stimulate economic growth.
Keep It Safe: The sustainable, local sourcing of FSC certified wood is impressive, but Comet takes their environmental stewardship to another level. In the skateboard manufacturing process there are chemicals and adhesives that must be used to create bonds between wood fibers that are strong enough to withstand the wear and tear of everyday use. There is a list out there called the “Red List” crafted by the EPA and other environmental organizations, such as the International Living Future Institute, that documents and denounces chemicals that are harmful to human, wildlife, and Earth health. Most skateboard companies use chemicals on this list, Formaldehyde being one of the worst.
Because formaldehyde is so toxic, yet so widely used in traditional adhesive formulas, Comet had to go back to the drawing board and create an adhesive that was up to their lofty environmental standards. They worked with their glue suppliers to innovate new formulations of formaldehyde-free wood adhesives that, they believe, are the next frontier of high strength, environmentally safe skateboards. This new formula has immense implications for the rest of the industry as our communities start to move towards more sustainable lives. (some slowly, some quickly)
Once the wood and adhesive have been pressed, next comes the design phase. Comet’s inks are made in the USA and are free of hazardous chemicals used in typical inks such as lead and mercury, among others. Every board receives a silk screened, hand laid graphic, making each board unique.
After the graphic has been laid, a specially formulated, protective clear coat is applied for durability. Comet has been hunkered down in the lab collaborating with engineers and the like since it’s inception in 1997, perfecting the use of water-based clear coats. As of 2012, their years of research and application have led to the most environmentally friendly, high-performing clear coat available on Earth. This coating ensures that the boards are protected from all the elements and keeps graphics looking fresh.
Through the use of water based clear coats and inks Comet has proven skateboards do not need to be made with hazardous, toxic coatings and inks. These innovations have resulted in the prevention of approximately three tons of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from entering the atmosphere and their production crew’s lungs over the last fifteen years of operation. The company also gets over 50% of its supplies from recycled materials and runs its facilities on over 50% renewable energy.
Keep It Strong: Consistency ensures repeat quality in board after board, as their industrial glue spreader coats their magnificent wood skeletons and hot presses each one to yield the strongest decks on the market. Hot pressing opens the pores of Comets locally sourced hard maple cut outs, urging them to absorb steam heated, low viscosity glue deep into each layer. While developing their innovative adhesive they chose to focus on the microscopic level, allowing tiny particles to penetrate into all of the boards’ nooks and crannies, increasing the overall strength of each bond. Laboratory tests show that Comet bonds are up to 1.5 times stronger than in other boards. This translates to longer lasting pop, stiffness, and thus happier, more confident Skateboarders.
Comet is a trailblazer in its ability to innovate so that other manufacturers and ultimately all of us, can benefit. They are true heros in the world of sustainable manufacturing and supply chain management, showing the world that a holistic approach to business is not just possible, but truly beneficial.