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Save the World: Recycle Your Old Kites
By Paul Lang

Originally Published in the October 2008 Issue of The Kiteboarder Magazine

Will that be paper or plastic? When asked this on your next trip to the grocery store, you might have a unique answer: “Neither. I brought my kite.” Thanks to the efforts of Lydia Snider and her new company Kitecycle, you will be able to help reduce the amount of plastics in our ocean by replacing disposable bags with durable ones made out of products headed for the dumpster: old kites.

The ubiquitous disposable plastic bags seem to be everywhere in our lives. They clutter the kitchen drawers we stuff them into, tumble in the breeze, get stuck in trees, and end up in the ocean where they litter our playground and kill animals, who often mistake the floating bags for food. It is estimated that a mere 1 to 3 percent of plastic bags get recycled. Over 500 billion plastic bags are produced every year, and the 97 to 99 percent of them that are not recycled end up in landfills, as litter, or in our oceans.


While standing in line at the grocery store, Lydia came up with the idea for Kitecycle. “When the flat kite made C-kites less popular, I thought about the yards and yards of nonbiodegradable material that would be heading for the landfill and began thinking about a viable way to recycle old kites. I noticed the irony that many of the reusable bags being sold to reduce the use of plastic bags were also made of plastic. Their production still impacts the environment. By building reusable bags from something that would otherwise be thrown away, Kitecycle is able to help the environment twice by reducing the use of plastic bags and by reducing a stream of new plastic production.”

According to Lydia, she can make 10 to 12 bags from one 12 meter kite. Kitecycle will be making bags in two sizes, 18×24 inches for groceries and 22×16 inches for trips to the mall. Each will be completely unique. Lydia is currently working with the Santa Cruz County Workability program to incorporate building bags into their curriculum for students with developmental disabilities. Lydia said, “The staff is excited about the project, as it requires practical application of many of the skills the program wants to teach and it is an interesting and meaningful project for the kids.”


Currently, the main source for the old kites is the Going Green promotion being offered by Caution Kites. Customers can get up to $400 off a new kite if they trade in an old kite. Lydia happens to live around the corner from Caution’s headquarters and said, “It was synchronicity. Caution was working on a trade-in promotion to give customers the opportunity to upgrade while getting old and dangerous second-hand kites off the market. At about the same time, I showed up with prototypes of the shopping bags and it just made sense to combine the two ideas.”

Kitecyle will also be accepting direct donations of old gear, and once their tax-exempt status is approved you will be able to receive a tax deduction for getting rid of your obsolete gear. By using recycled kites to bring your groceries home you can help reduce the production of plastic bags, reduce pollution in our environment, keep old and unsafe kites off the market, support employment of students with developmental disabilities, and look stylish while picking up the milk. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Visit www.kitecycle.org for more info.


Other Green Products from the Surf Industry: Products that can help any ocean user lessen their impact on the environment.

Biofoam: Earth-friendly surfboard blanks –www.homeblown.co.uk
Offered by surf blank manufacturer Homeblown, about 50% of the material that goes into making a Biofoam blank comes from agricultural products as opposed to petrochemicals. According to the manufacturer, Biofoam surf blanks result in 36% less global warming emissions, a 61% reduction in non-renewable energy use, and a 23% reduction in total energy demand.

Patagonia Wetsuits: More warmth and environmentally conscious –www.patagonia.com
Patagonia has always been a very environmentally conscious company, but by using recycled polyester, chlorine-free wool, PVC-free kneepads, and thinner (but just as effective) neoprene layers in the construction of their wetsuits, they are able to keep you warm and comfortable and reduce your suit’s impact on the environment.

Reef Greenwall Sandal: Just as much style with a smaller impact –www.reef.com
Reef has integrated organic canvas, hemp, soy fiber, recycled post-industrial waste, and water-based paints and cements into their Greenwall sandal. The result is a comfortable piece of footwear built from renewable resources and material diverted from the landfill.

Wet Women Surf Wax: Non-toxic, biodegradable, and compostable –www.wetwomensurfwax.com
The surf wax sold by Wet Women is made of safe biological nutrients that completely break down over time. They claim that their wax is certified and scientifically proven to be completely harmless to the ecosystems
it is used in.