We are living through the 6th great mass extinction. If that does not resonate with you, recognize that we are causing it. In the last few years, I’ve seen a great migration among my peers from working in finance and tech, towards “sustainable” organizations with a goal of “changing the world.” I’m also seeing a lot of businesses modify their marketing message towards one of “sustainability.” If you look up the definiation of sustainability, here is what you see first:
“the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.”
The current level of consumption cannot be maintained. The reality: the best thing we, and our businesses can do right now, is simply not exist. EVs are not going to save the world. Transportation is responsible for only ~25% of GHG emissions; if we took all the cars off the road, we’re still in trouble. These new EVs are driving massive increases in GHGs due to power generation (coal, natural gas to fuel them), mining and shipping of heavy rare earth metals around the globe, and moving the eventual product around the world. Don’t get me wrong, I drive a small EV (BMW i3) but the best thing we can do is simply not drive, which is why I have been a bike commuter my whole life. Or drive the car we already have, less. But no one talks about that, because driving less doesn’t sell. Instead, GM suggests buying a 9,000lb vehicles with a 0-60 time of 4 seconds as the solution to climate change. How about “last mile delivery,” the latest fad as companies like Amazon turn to e-bikes or electric vans to deliver a disposable halloween costume to your door with a lower carbon footprint after it travels 8,000 miles from China. Tesla electric semi trucks launching with Pepsi? The epitome of the “sustainability” movement: Let’s ship plastic bottles full of high-fructose corn syrup around the country with a lower carbon footprint. The use of the term “sustainability” has become a marketing tool, with companies selling the idea of sustainability despite being at their core, inherently unsustainable. The best thing we can do, is simply consume less, which obviously no company wants you to do. Let me be clear: Project Cedrus does not and will not market or sell the concept of sustainability, and we do in fact want this to be the last mast you ever buy.
Sometimes I struggle looking in the mirror wondering why I am focusing my life’s energy on making a better hydrofoil system. I felt I was put here on this earth to do more than that. I remember learning about climate change in high school, over 20 years ago. I studied mechanical engineering because I wanted to be a part of the solution, and for the first part of my career, I genuinely felt that I was. People are going to fly, so I wanted to work on the most fuel-efficient aircraft, made possible by advancements in materials and manufacturing using carbon fiber. Other engineers chose to focus on investing technology and money into speed, at the expense of climate impacts, although I don’t think these supersonic transport startups will survive. After delivering the 787 Dreamliner, I found myself in Silicon Valley working for a flying car company that was going to make the world a better place by eliminating traffic. I barely lasted a year, before I couldn’t stomach the kool-aid, and the company shut down a few weeks ago after spending hundreds of millions of dollars with nothing but a few PR stunts to show for it. Fortunately, I found a place for my skillset at Apple, who I can assure you is genuinely focused on reducing the environmental footprint of their products through innovative design and manufacturing processes, but most importantly: making products that last.
As I write this, I am currently breathing the most unhealthy air IN THE WORLD due to fires in Oregon and Washington. I’m sad, I’m angry. The sporting goods industry is notoriously bad about fueling excessive consumption through constant and in most cases unnecessary product updates. It is true in hardgoods I own (bike frames, hydrofoils, skis) and most prevalent in softgoods, where every year a new color comes out and the old jackets go to a burn pile because they’re no longer the “in” style. Maybe I’m getting old, but I’m tired of it. I’m tired of seeing readers on forums quick to dump their 1 year old equipment the day a new product is announced. I’m tired of seeing last years jackets on Steep & Cheap for 70% off, and the worlds precious resources have been totally wasted while PFAS chemicals infiltrate our water and food chain. Our excessive consumption is simply unsustainable, no matter what you read on the producers website, and it has to stop.
My goal with Project Cedrus since day 1 has been to stop this. And after developing technology that reduces the environmental impact of our food, I am now focused more than ever on driving change in the sporting goods world through better product design, more efficient manufacturing, and longer product lifecycles. This is my motivation, and how I look at myself in the mirror and tell my daughter what I am doing to help her have a world she can eventually surf, ski, and bike on.
Climate change and the damage of our consumption are arguably most prevalent in our oceans, which also happens to be our playground. Ocean acidification, warming waters, and plastic waste are destroying the places we all love. I have vowed to not contribute to the destruction of our oceans by making a product that lasts, does not leave foils on the bottom of the sea, and does not congest our ports with containers full of masts that will eventually break or bend. A longer product lifecycle also allows us to focus on manufacturing efficiency and quality, so we can reduce waste and use less resources. I can tell you based on lots of experience that designing a new product creates a lot of waste: prototypes, inefficient manufacturing lines and supply chains, damaged test specimens, travel between offices and manufacturing sites. My garage is already beginning to fill with prototypes and samples of carbon masts which have two options at this point: landfill in Oregon, or incinerator in Long Beach CA, which just happen to be how our waste is disposed in the Seattle area. Neither are good options, and I cannot imagine what’s happening to the waste generated in Asia. Hint: Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Project Cedrus has always and will always be manufactured using up-cycled material from Boeing. Sorry, you won’t see a high modulus material option from our marketing department. With good design, high modulus material is not necessary, and more of a marketing ploy than a true performance benefit. Carbon fiber is not exactly great for the environment. Fortunately, Project Cedrus simply uses less material, less than 1/4 what other solid masts use, thanks to hollow construction and a well-engineered laminate. Less material is inherently more responsible, from production to end-of-life. That being said, end-of-life is much later, or ideally non-existent for Cedrus owners. Launch customers from 2018 continue to ride Project Cedrus to this day, thanks to the modular architecture, and we have repaired any and all masts damaged in bottom strikes or crashes at no cost to the owner instead of trying to sell them another mast.
While we are proud to manufacture all aluminum products domestically, we continue to explore sourcing options and look for ways to reduce the environmental footprint of extrusion, machining, and shipping. We have recently shifted to 100% recycled or re-used packaging: the boxes are custom made, post consumer cardboard, and cost more than virgin material but it’s the right thing to do. Our packing material comes from a local auto body shop, so if your mast is wrapped in Volkswagen bubble wrap, now you know why. Many of our small accessory boxes are re-used; while this adds time and complexity to order fulfillment (our costs), it is more responsible. On demand manufacturing is significantly less wasteful than buying containers full of product at a time. In nearly 5 years of production, we have only scrapped about 9 small aluminum adapters due to obsolescence, and we are never left with masts of unfavorable lengths because everything is custom made. I know some struggle with the waiting required for a Project Cedrus, but please understand that it is a far more responsible way to manufacture goods.
While what we do is by all accounts “sustainable” from a marketing standpoint, our existence is not. We strive for responsibility, and ensure that every product we sell is manufactured to last, using a short supply chain, serves a distinct and obvious purpose, and is repairable if needed. We can’t afford fancy marketing shoots in exotic locations around the world; we invest our revenue in R&D to reduce our impact and improve our products. With a warranty rate of 0%, the data speaks for itself. Project Cedrus may not be for everyone and we don’t want or expect it to be. But if you truly are looking to be a responsible consumer, there is no better option on the market and we are grateful for your consideration and business. We hope you never buy a mast again.
Thanks for reading, Kyle