Redeem Equipment - Artisanry to fight pollution
The Arve Valley, a tourism spot facing air pollution
Wherever one stands in the Arve valley, the massive shape of the Mont Blanc looms, towering over the countryside with its rounded and snowy summit. The town of Passy, in Haute Savoie, is one of the many villages that benefit from the thousands of tourists that flock every winter to pay a visit to the snowy colossus. With just over 10,000 inhabitants, a large part of Passy’s population works in winter resorts or in mountain hiking services.
The village of Servoz, just a few kilometers away, is somewhat removed from the endless flow of tourists, and thus retains its rural character, with some striking examples of Savoyard architecture. However, twice every year, the spotlight turns to this quiet town, as it organizes its sheep fair, reuniting farmers, tourists, and all kinds of traders.
Pauline Calandot has become a regular in this market, ever since she started selling upcycled products, under the brand "Po Made in Recyclé". In 2019, she partnered up with Irène Marcotti, an entrepreneur from nearby Italy, and formed a new company: « Redeem Equipment ».
The wife of a cable car operator at Mont Blanc, Pauline lives in Passy, in a house that overlooks the valley. Living in the region for a long time, she is accustomed to its cosmopolitan character, with its countless tourists from all over the world, coming every year for winter sports.
However, Passy also has a darker side. Its valley experiences severe air pollution due to an incinerator of non -recycled waste: the SITOM.
This high-capacity incinerator burns waste from neighboring valleys too, generating an air pollution that affects the health of many of the Arve Valley’s inhabitants. Protests against the incinerator have increased, but it is difficult to dislodge such a colossus, since most of the energy it creates is then resold to the National Electricity Supplier.
Added to this, is the constant truck traffic going to the Mont Blanc tunnel to Italy, as well as the lack of public transport that pushes residents to use cars, further causing air pollution. In winter, the Arve Valley lives under a permanent blanket of pollution.
Redeem Equipment: fighting pollution through artisanry
Redeem Equipment, is Pauline Calandot’s and Irène Marcotti’s answer to the crisis. Together, they make weekly visits to Passy’s Mountain Store the headquarters of the famous hiking gear brand "Quechua". Browsing the factory depots, they gather defective or unusable products that are meant to be sent to the incinerator, and take them back to their workshop in order to create new products.
With this gear, Irene and Pauline create new products, which they then sell under the Redeem Equipment brand: purses, belts, backpacks, and other gear that are adapted to the lifestyle of the hikers and mountaineers of the region. This specialization in hiking gear sets them apart from the other upcycling companies that are starting to multiply in the region.
In their production workflow, Irène Marcotti, who previously worked in product development, is in charge of creating prototypes for new Redeem products. Once these are tested by the pair, they send instructions to local artisan workshops, which employ people handicapped people, in order to create the product.
Fortunately, consumers have been receptive of the Redeem brand, appreciating that it is local and handmade. Indeed, Redeem’s objects are highly personalized, since they depend on the raw material collected every week when Irene and Pauline visit the Mountain Store.
Despite these initial successes, Irene and Pauline must overcome the challenges of their nascent company. Workdays are still very long, even though their final object is to find the necessary rhythm of work to be decently paid for their labor.
In the meantime, they avoid intermediaries at all costs, selling their products online or in specialized markets. This has allowed them to sell their products at a fair and competitive price to their customers.