What’s wrong in the candy store?

Does a kid in a candy store ever get fed up with sugar? This thought crossed my mind as I walked into the Walls&Halls event, in Friederichshafen, last November. Two big halls filled with climbing shoes, training equipment, all types of hardware and many, I mean tons of climbing holds. Climbing holds as far as the eye reaches, you might say.

Two days on a fair like this means talking to all kinds of people, but hey, guess what: all of them seem to support our message! I didn’t meet anyone who hasn’t been thinking about sustainability of our beautiful sport. The word ‘seem’ is used here on purpose. Experience has taught us that it’s very easy to speak green words, but it’s much harder to perform green acts. Especially when it costs time or money (which is effectively the same).

Our neighbors on the floor were a couple of sympathetic Italians who create beautiful wooden holds and training devices. ‘Very nice what you’re doing with the shoes’, one of them said, ‘but look around you: what do you see?’ I looked up and saw climbing holds as far as the eye could reach. ‘I see plastic’, I answered, a bit sad. ‘Exactly!’, he replied, tapping me on the shoulder and turning around he added ‘that’s what you should be working on as CleanClimber!’

Point taken. So: how is it going as far as the big plastic issue in climbing is concerned? There were some sparks of hope. There is Ghold of course, the French brand producing recyclable holds. They started up last year and seem to have grown, which is a positive sign.

Surprising rookie is GreenHolds. Based in the south of the Netherlands this company invented a new type of climbing hold made from different, reusable types of plastic. The outcome is a result of elaborate collaboration between scientists, product developers and climbers. The look and feel of the holds is a little bit different from your classical holds and the materials can be used over and over again. Very positive point: GreenHolds are open about their process and willing to share their secrets with other companies. At least: that’s what I heard them say when we talked.

Re-soling and re-cycling climbing shoes is a great goal, but I must agree with the Italian guy: we have to do something about the plastic, or should I say the sugar in the candy store?

On behalf of the CleanClimber family I wish all of you a great holiday and a sustainable 2023!

By Ico Kloppenburg, CleanClimber board member