Superfried – Walk the Talk
Buying a tennis racket
Mark again. I studied environmental stuff and bang on about eco things here, but I need to do more and walk the talk. When I started tennis lessons about a year ago, in the interest of conservation, I dug out my antique racket from the 90’s, re-strapped the flaking handle and got playing. Having continued the lessons, and with birthday money burning a hole in my pocket I decided to treat myself to a new racket.
But is there a more eco friendly option available?
I talked to my coach and he suggested a great racket. However, I was unaware that quality tennis equipment is considerably more expensive than my skills deserve – brand new it was £185! As usual, I was also considering the eco aspect of the purchase – is there a better option?
The initial racket research led to the usual main contenders – Wilson and Head. So I decided to see if either had considered sustainability. Starting with Wilson they had developed an alternative 'naked' series for some of its existing range. The rackets would be paint and dye-free, use zero-waste packaging, and lead to 1 million trees being planted. More interestingly, they then go on to talk about the use of a biodegradable algae-based "plastic" on each racket's bumpers, grommets, and buttcaps.
This all sounded great, but it got me asking – if these options are not detrimental to the quality of the product, why are they not adopted by default?
I assumed it was because it was more expensive to do so and clicked on the buy button to find out. This is when they informed me the page no longer exists! This was disappointing. Was it just a green campaign to catch the current trends?
Moving over to Head, they also have a page stating their position on sustainability and appear to take a more holistic approach. They proceed to make the following bold statement –
More than 15 years ago, HEAD was the first sporting goods company to launch a worldwide environmental program in partnership with the Rainforest Trust and Cool Earth. Now, climate action is part of what we do, every day.
They go on to to state they are constantly re-thinking their packaging, researching new materials without any concrete figures stating –
We’re tackling sustainability like no other sports company. From bags made from recycled rPET bottles to tennis balls comprised of 100-percent recyclable materials, we’re changing the eco-friendly sports game.
They also mention partnering with Rainforest Trust and Cool Earth – which sounds like offsetting. Having said that, they also comment on energy consumption –
All energy at our headquarters in Kennelbach is supplied by an on-site hydro plant driven by the neighboring Bregenzer Ach river. The Schindler GmbH & Co KG supply all commercial facilities on site with their own green electricity.
It is difficult to ever know for sure if the credentials of a company are legitimate without conducting in-depth research. Consequently, based on the standard principles of re-use being optimal, perhaps a secondhand racket would be the best approach and address my initial price concerns.
Many comparison videos later, I was leaning toward my coach's original suggestion – the Head Radical MP. Although it was a lot more than I intended to pay, I now wanted it! So I started searching for the exact model on eBay.
People may be wary of eBay, and I won't lie, I have been conned a couple of times with items being fake or not being sent. However, in all scenarios, eBay has refunded my money.
The first thing I noticed was that rackets hold their price! No chance of a bargain then.
In addition to usual eBay checks – make sure the seller has a good rating and has previously sold a lot of items – regarding the actual item you are searching for you need to adopt a keen eye for detail. Some of the models sound very similar but are very different.
Also, double-check the descriptions carefully – on more than one occasion the handle size in the headline did not match the details in the description and I had to clarify with the seller. Lastly, coss-reference the same item as new. At one point I was considering an older, cheaper model, but subsequently found it being sold secondhand for the same price I could buy it new.
After much research, I found the perfect option. Secondhand, minimal use and re-strung at purchase – which usually costs an additional £20-30. Total including delivery – £135.
The racket is awesome! It is in mint condition, I could not tell if it had been previously used and it was delivered in the original packaging. Although it is far superior than required for my current ability, it could potentially be a forever racket. After testing it, I immediately noticed the benefit. I am now able to generate more power on groundstrokes, despite my appalling technique and my servers are considerably more consistent.
I am not very good at driving a hard bargain, so some would say I have been robbed! But it was only a few months old and would have cost around £200 new restrung. More importantly, I got the racket I wanted, and reusing an existing product means I feel no guilt about my purchase.
It was disappointing to see that there are not more eco friendly products available from two of the main racket brands. If true, it is promising that Head is adopting a holistic approach to tackle the environmental impact of all of its processes. With regards to Wilson, to promise a product with a lower carbon footprint, but then find it is not possible to purchase it, is very bad form. I am hoping this was a mere oversight or technical glitch.
Unfortunately, considering the environment when making a purchase, will usually require more effort and research. However, I am hoping this will not be the case in the future.
If you have any information on alternative, sustainable tennis products I should look into drop me a message. Alternatively, to discuss how Superfried can develop bespoke design solutions to help you take your company to the next level, book a call.