Purl’s ski and snowboard waxes forgo harmful PFCs, keeping humans and wildlife safe.

Jill Van Slyke believes in the power of collective intentionality—that is, if everyone does a little bit of work, she thinks a lot can be achieved as a whole unit. And for Van Slyke, owner of the Vail Valley-based ski/snowboard wax company Purl, this philosophy rings particularly true in the case of environmentally friendly ski and snowboard wax. 

Unfortunately, she explains, most waxes contain perfluorochemicals (PFCs)—toxin-filled chemicals that, over time, rub off skis and snowboards and accumulate in snowmelt, eventually building up in our bloodstreams through our groundwater supply—increasing risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It’s a serious threat, as PFCs never biodegrade. “Ultimately its the watershed in our mind,” Van Slyke says. “Anything that can come off our skis onto the snow and run off into our waters isn’t worth it to us.”

So, Purl and other environmentally minded companies like Beaver Wax, Green Ice Wax, and DPS, have developed alternative wax lines. Some feature all-natural, biodegradable, non-fluorinated, microcrystalline wax using additives like naturally occurring silicon in lieu of PFCs. Others, like DPS’s innovative Phantom gliding product that’s UV-activated and lasts the lifetime of the ski/snowboard base (see page 37), are wax alternatives altogether. Now, the task is to get skiers and snowboarders on board with such alternatives, Van Slyke says. “We truly believe that every little thing that everyone can do, all added together, creates a larger outcome.” —Emma Murray