Skis: The Aprèslife
Updated: Jan 25, 2021
There’s only so many times a ski can make an appearance on the seasonaire page before it is relegated to the depths of a dank dark basement and put to the back of the mind. Much like the bag of salad you bought at the beginning of January in a half-hearted attempt at eating healthy and which now festers at the back of your fridge. So what can be done to assuage the guilt of an ever increasing pile of skis that you can’t bring yourself to send to landfill?
Make something out of it
Skis are made to be seriously strong, which makes them a prime candidate for being fashioned into furniture. If garish chairs are up your street and you happen to be handy with tools, go ahead and gather some old skis from a skip.
If this is a little beyond your reach, skis or boards make for great coat hangers or headboards. There are also plenty of companies springing up that take the legwork out of the process and doubtlessly make something a little less likely to break. Art Ski Tech, a company based in Chambery, make some incredible things, like wine racks, from old skis. But definitely their most innovative creations are these dome frames, which can be used as yurt like structures in gardens or for living your true hermit fantasy.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Plenty of ski hire companies pass their old (but still very much useable) ski gear on to less affluent resorts who are unable to afford new equipment. New stations in Eastern Europe are always in need of skis and boards. Alternatively, charities like Gear4Guides provide donated equipment to local guides in places with a burgeoning ski and mountaineering industry like Kyrgyzstan and Georgia. Many people in these countries depend on guiding for their livelihood but have little to no access to the vital gear required. This is where Gear4Guides comes in. The charity not only gives donated skis and boots to the local guides, but also avalanche safety training and communication skills, so that they can easily be found by winter sports tourists visiting their area. It really took off several years ago after teaming up with the Faction Collective, who continue to work on providing equipment.
They are always keen to accept donations and have a wish-list of the most required gear, which you can find on their website.
We are very lucky to have the Albertville-based “Tri Vallées” scheme in our immediate vicinity, who have a collection point at the dechetterie in Tignes Le Breviere and Bourg Saint Maurice. This award winning recycling initiative was started in 2008 in response to the rapidly growing quantity of ski gear being chucked in the area each year. In 2017, the Haute Tarentaise area alone produced 28.2 tonnes of skis, snowboards, toboggans, poles, helmets and boots and it is estimated that over the past 8 years, they have prevented 3000 tonnes of gear from heading to landfill.
Skis have a very complicated structure consisting of composite layers. So what on earth is done with them? After seven successive grindings, the steel (about 25% of the total mass) is extracted by magnetization and used as a raw material. The remaining granules consist of wood and various plastics, which are compressed into a solid fuel called CSR (combustible solide de récupération). This is then used in Grenoble cement plants instead of oil. Three tons of CSR are equivalent to one ton of crude oil. Even the by-product of what is burnt, the slag (what remains after the combustion) is used. It becomes a building product for highway embankments. In the end, 100% of the materials from skis & snowboards are recycled.
Tri Vallees work hard on providing collection opportunities and work with 400 shops within 45 resorts in France. As mentioned, there are drop off points in Le Brev and Bourg Saint Maurice, but if your place of work is inundated with unused equipment, professionals are encouraged to approach Tri Vallees directly to arrange collection between the end of April and the middle of November.
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