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It is quite difficult to educate skiers about the negative impact their favourite sport can make on the environment. We all assume that it is the sole responsibility of the local mountain communities who make a livelihood from skiing to conserve and safeguard the slopes which have sustained them for so many years.
While this is true to an extent, you too can contribute to the cause by switching to sustainable ski holiday planning mode. This way, your winter holiday will have the minimum effect on the resources of the planet. Plus you can continue to chase powder for years to come.
Adopt sustainable travel methods
A big factor to consider on a skiing vacation is how to get to the slopes. If at all travel by air is the only option left, then choose direct flights as far as possible. It certainly helps in reducing carbon footprint. The less you land, take-off and the fuel you use, the better. On arrival look for an electric vehicle or shared transport. Taking public transport is also recommended.
Driving in your car from home, especially if you have a hybrid or electric vehicle, not only saves you the hassle of flight connections. You also emit a lot less carbon dioxide than by flying. It’s a good idea to choose a resort that is nearer to you. Most of the popular ski resorts can be accessed by overnight trains from Britain. Not only can you lug all the ski gear along, you arrive refreshed and can enjoy an extra day of skiing.
Taking the train is also a relaxed choice for families and children. You can also check out on some ski and travel companies who actually reward their guests with discounts, should you choose not to fly and instead use car sharing to reach their resort.
Tip – If you choose travel providers like Alpine Elements, who focus on sustainable travel, you can be assured of reducing your carbon footprint.
Sustainable Ski Holiday: Stay green on the slopes
• Before leaving your room turn off all electric appliances, including the central heating. You wouldn’t want to warm up an empty room if you are not going to use it for a long time.
• Opt not to have your linen washed as much as possible.
• Always carry a reusable water bottle and fill it whenever needed instead of purchasing from the market.
• Try and visit only those hotels and restaurants which have LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) labels and green globe certificates.
• Say no to plastic by refusing straws when you buy a drink.
• Turn off the air-conditioning or heating and open the windows of your accommodation to conserve energy. Instead pull on a warm layer and turn off the thermostat.
• Try out regional dishes that are locally sourced instead of those from distant International chains. There are some excellent wines, cheese and cured meats to try out when off the slopes.
• Keep all your tickets, passes and other booking details saved on the phone instead of taking printouts.
• Download your piste route on the phone instead of using a paper one.
• In case you cannot avoid a smoke, carry something to put the ash and the cigarette butts in.
• Make sure to put the litter in the bin whether on or off the mountain in order to keep the ski resort clean and pristine.
• Use the bus shuttle between resorts instead of taxis. Not only is it regular and free, it is an eco-friendly way of getting around.
• Ski and snowboard need waxing from time to time to enable the base to glide well on the snow. Use chemical free wax to avoid the otherwise harsh chemicals from percolating into the snow. Make the waterways toxic for animal and plant life.
• Instead of taking a number of short ski trips each year, try going on one long vacation. This will reduce the carbon impact massively by hopping less from one flight to another.
Use lasting gear and clothing
Sustainably sourced ski clothing is becoming a rage these days as they are easier to find in the market than ever before. Socks and thermals made out of organic cotton or bamboo fabric and jackets and other outerwear made from recycled materials are cheap and eco-friendly. If you are planning to buy any ski equipment, the first option should be to look for second hand items.
In case you need new ski gear like goggles, helmets, poles etc check out only those brands which are using responsibly sourced materials like wood and metal in their manufacture. Remember, the lighter your travel kit is, the lesser will be your carbon footprint. If you want to further create a positive environmental impact, hire what you need at the resort. Not only you travel light but you support the local communities as well.
Stay in an eco-friendly resort
The most important part of your ski holiday is the accommodation. This is where responsible tourism will play a big part by choosing a place which pledges to provide the greenest experience. These days more and more hotels, chalets, shops and restaurants are aiming at providing a clean and green ski trip. How? By adopting renewable energy methods, reducing waste and other ways to make you ski consciously.
Many older chalets are being renovated to make them greener. Almost all the new ones, like Chalet Austin, Morzine and Chalet Cretet, Meribel, have tightened their guidelines, both in their method of construction as well as efficiency in energy. Some of the top luxury resorts are showing the way by installing solar and wood pellet power ventilation. They then heat or run them on zero-rated biomass heating.
St Anton is a prime example of a green resort. It has fantastic connectivity with public transport like buses and trains. Besides, the roads are good and easy to navigate. An efficient lift system is in place where many of the lifts run on solar power. The flora and fauna is well protected with areas marked for ski off-piste and out of their zones. La Plagne and Les Arcs in the Paradiski region have been using totally renewable energy, like wind power, hydroelectricity and solar energy for their lifts since 2012.
So why wait? Book your sustainable ski holiday now!
What you should do is to make sure that you hire the services of an agency or company which has a strict responsible tourism policy in place. These knowledgeable professionals have the best understanding of the mountain environments. Not to mention the locally sourced guides, who are encouraging the mountain communities to respect the natural habitat and go for the greener choice.
For your part, you can take a pledge that you genuinely wish to avoid leaving a carbon footprint by having a sustainable ski holiday. This in turn will inspire and motivate others to do the same.