Questions and Answers
How are our activities structured?
Knowing how are economic activities are distributed helps us to better understand our priorities for sustainable development.
Are sustainable development and strong growth compatible?
arkose&co is growing fast and our growth is a central issue. We believe that a global economic downturn is needed to prevent the risk of our civilization collapsing. More specifically, the richest economies should work to drastically reduce their environmental footprint while poorer countries should align their standard of living with a new sustainable global average. Thus should we slow down or even stop our growth? Isn’t it hypocritical to talk about social responsibility while continuing to grow?
In actual fact, this depends on our activities and our standards. We can continue to grow as long as it increases our ability to have a positive impact on society: engaging in sport, energy-efficient renovation of buildings, accelerating agricultural transition, creation of sustainable jobs, etc.
However, there are two natural limits to our growth. A lower limit: we want as many people as possible to be able to access our spaces because we believe we offer a physical activity that is holistic, healthy, fun and varied, and because our spaces offer a sociable environment where people can enjoy eating well. An upper limit: we cannot establish ourselves anywhere and everywhere. Our concept involves high fixed costs: renovating premises, equipment, rent, employment, etc. For our climbing halls to be viable, we need to establish ourselves in areas that are accessible and densely populated. We can’t yet envisage opening in areas with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants.
Why have we not set a target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms?
Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms in the context of strong growth seems impossible to us (see “Are sustainable development and strong growth compatible? ”). Instead, we are more concerned with disassociating the growth of our business from our greenhouse gas emissions, and ensuring that this growth has a positive impact by renovating buildings, helping to develop healthy and responsibly sourced food, creating conviviality and sustainable jobs, and, in an ideal world, by positively influencing the visitors to our blocparks so that they too feel inspired and involved.
Why do we still serve meat in our restaurants?
Meat production creates significant greenhouse gas emissions and involves the mistreatment of animals. However, the type of meat, the way in which it is produced and how often it is consumed are important factors which make a difference. We haven’t completely eliminated meat from our menus for gastronomic and cultural reasons. We prefer to encourage occasional consumption of good quality meat and dairy products. At the same time, we are making it a priority to develop dishes with vegetable protein substitutes. We also try to raise awareness amongst our customers through “soft” methods: the majority of our dishes are vegetarian and are promoted; meat comes as a supplement. We have made this choice because we believe that sustainable change is change that is desired rather than endured.
Is SNAP manufacturing in Vietnam compatible with arkose&co’s greenhouse gas emission commitments?
SNAP is an iconic French brand that was founded in Chamonix in the 90s. It is known in the climbing world for its independent and innovative vision of climbing products. It relocated its manufacturing to Vietnam in 2001 for economic reasons.
When we acquired SNAP in 2017, the question of relocating production to France was raised. But we did the math… First of all, most of the fabric that we use comes from factories in Asia (recycled polyester, bi-stretch blend of organic cotton, recycled polyester and elastane, blend of organic cotton and hemp, etc.). Secondly, the carbon impact of transporting the finished product is second to the carbon impact associated with the production of the fabric, accessories and the finished product. Finally, SNAP is certainly a French brand, but it is also distributed in Japan and Australia for example.
We have therefore decided to focus all of our manufacturing operations in Vietnam, for clothing and equipment, working with family-run factories who are also willing to commit to providing reasonable wages and respecting workers and the environment at every stage of production.
Assisting these factories on their journey and enabling them to progress at the same pace as us is a long-term undertaking.
Is the use of magnesium powder compatible with safe conditions for rock climbing?
In climbing, magnesium powder is used to keep climbers’ hands and fingers dry while they are climbing in order to maintain maximum friction and enable grips that would otherwise be impossible. It helps to enable diverse movements, contributes to the aesthetics of the routes, and the soft shapes of a large proportion of the holds that we use. Finally, it replicates the sensations that one experiences climbing sandstone…
For all these reasons, rather than ban it from our climbing halls, we would like to make every effort to ensure its continued use and distribution free of charge.
However, the air quality and cleanliness of the climbing hall are also part of the experience. Magnesium powder is a volatile substance. If nothing is done, especially when attendance is high, it builds up in the air and can cause respiratory problems.
We are working on this in two ways:
The quality of the magnesium: we use Snap magnesium (our own brand) which has been analyzed by an independent laboratory. No pollutants have been detected. Not silica, nor antimony, nor arsenic, nor any of the other harmful substances that can be found in some lower-quality magnesia. The product is inert and of food quality (which means technically you can eat it, but it’s not necessarily a good idea…).
The amount of magnesia in the air: we conduct independent measurement programs to assess the level of dust in our climbing halls. These showed that we were more than 10 times below the limits permitted by labor regulations. However we shall still continue to work on a number of areas for improvement: powerful air filtration and renewal systems in all new climbing halls, natural ventilation such as roof openings, magnesia dispensers designed-to-measure in order to limit its spread, raising awareness by our receptionists and through signs in our climbing halls, cleaning several times a day, etc. And, finally, a simple one, the opening of new climbing halls helps to reduce congestion in the old ones.
We have made a very expensive choice, but our actions have a real impact. This is confirmed by the measurement assessments and our reward is our customer satisfaction with regard to the quality of the climbing.
Why not opt for liquid magnesium?
We have tested liquid magnesium, and, in addition to a subpar climbing experience, we have identified several major flaws: the holds become greasy, slippery and quickly become dirty since the product contains glue to stick to the skin, and this glue then sticks to the holds. The skin on one’s hands is damaged by alcohol and solvents and this is often difficult to get rid of by washing one’s hands after a climbing session. There are magnesium liquids which don’t contain alcohol or solvents, however these take a long time to dry and don’t suit the pace of indoor climbing. Finally, the concentration of solvents and alcohol in the atmosphere can be very high when the premises are busy and can cause headaches. For all these reasons, we have decided not to permit its use in our blocparks and climbing halls.
To date, we believe that the ideal solution is the distribution of high quality magnesium powder and a combination of actions to improve air quality.