Winter is just a few days ahead of us, and some may be dreaming of a ski holiday.
Hitting the slopes, and being close to nature all day is one of a kind experience for a lot of nature enthusiasts; the kind of holiday where you can blend adventure and relaxation in the middle of jawbreaking landscapes.
Climate change is hitting our mountains hard. Our snow cover is reducing, and studies show this will accelerate in the years to come.
Wonder what you can do to minimize your impact and make your ski holidays a little greener? We’ve gathered 10 easy tips to help you start.
1.Minimize your footprint
Before packing your bags to go, think of how you will get there.
57% of carbon emissions in mountain resorts are linked to transport.
Think twice before you book a low-cost plane and opt for the slower route. Many resorts are accessible directly by train in Europe, as well as in the USA.
If the train is not an option from where you are located, think of cleaner solutions than planes, like car-pooling, or buses that will limit your carbon footprint.
2. Go car-free
Once you’re at your resort, and if you have not opted for a 100% car-free ski-resort, take advantage of the shuttles to get you to the slopes.
Many resorts have free shuttle services, some of which are 100% electric and carbon-neutral
3. Bet on green resorts
Many mountain resorts are now committing to reduce their impact on the environment.
Some of them have even set ambitious carbon-neutrality goals.
Others, like Laax in Switzerland, just to name one, are already pioneering and running 100% on renewable energy to operate the resort.
To help you better identify resorts that have high sustainability standards, some eco-labels can help.
Some ski resorts have obtained the Green Globe Certification, a worldwide eco-certification.
Another certification to look out for is the Flocon Vert certification in France. Only a few french resorts have been recognized by this eco-label run by Mountain Riders association.
4. Find an eco-accommodation
Before you book your holiday, make sure to look up if the resort you are planning to visit has green accommodation options.
Again, eco-labels can help you spot the perfect green hotel for your stay in the mountains. But also remember that some B&B owners do not necessarily invest in a certification but are packed with eco-credentials.
Sleeping green is good, but that doesn’t mean you should forget your basics. Turn the heating off when you leave your rental, limit your water usage and turn off the lights.
5. Keep your track
Once you hit the slopes, you might be keen for a little free riding.
Be careful to not to disturb the wildlife that is there even if you don’t notice it.
Mountains are home to extraordinary biodiversity, and animals in wintertime have quite a hard time. The food is rarer, they usually hide in places where they can find food easily and stay away from their predators.
That’s why free-riders should be vigilant of not disturbing them. It could accidentally increase their stress and make them use a lot of energy which is very precious in the winter season.
Read more on how you can protect wildlife and biodiversity in the mountains on Be Part of the Mountain website
6. Minimize your waste
According to the French association Mountain Riders, 150 Tons of trash are thrown in the mountains every year. 40% of which could be recycled and 36% of which is thrown in nature by tourists themselves.
As everyone knows, the best waste is the one you don’t produce. So take your zero waste travel favourites with you on the slopes.
Just to name a few :
- Make your reusable bottle your best friend
- Skip straws if you stop for a drink
- Carry your picnic in your favourite eco-friendly lunchbox
- If you can’t quit smoking in altitude, make sure you take your pocket ashtray
Many resorts also have selective sorting systems in place. Do your part and also make sure the system works the same as at your home or adapt yourself to the resorts recycling program during your stay.
7. Eat local
The carbon emissions of your travels do not stop once you arrive at your destination. What you eat and drink represents 17% of your emissions as a traveller.
Eating in season and locally, can therefore play a significant role in minimizing your carbon “food-print”, especially if you think that transporting food in altitude automatically makes its emissions higher.
See it as an occasion to discover local specialities, authentic & comforting recipes after a big day on the slopes.
8. Choose sustainable skiing gear
Gear and clothes are quite essential when we’re talking of winter sports.
Renting your gear is the best option if you are a beginner or an occasional skier.
You’ll avoid the hassle of having to travel with it, and lower your carbon emissions at the same time. Also, renting your gear is a promise of having quality material and well-maintained equipment.
If you already have your own skis or prefer investing opt for sustainable equipment and maintain them with earth-friendly products to get a perfect slide
9. Opt-out fast fashion
Investing in long-lasting clothing may cost a little more, but it is far more worth it for the planet than buying new gear every year for a six-day ski holiday.
Before you run into a shop to buy new gear, think of second-hand ski gear, or renting your attire.
If you need to buy new gear, choose ethical ski clothing brands, which privilege certified organic or recycled fabrics and which have fair business approaches. They exist to dress you from from head to toes.
A lot of sustainable brands, like Picture Organic or Patagonia, for example, offer lifetime repair services.
10. Low carbon activities
For some après-ski activities, forget motorized and noisy activities.
Do you really need to hop on a helicopter to go skiing? How about slowing down and experiencing one of the carbon-free activities your resort has to offer.
From paragliding to snowshoeing there are multiple ways to see the mountains from a different angle
What do you do to make mountain holidays a little greener? Share your tips in the comments !
Disclaimer: At the time this article is published, lockdown and travel restrictions apply in many parts of the world. As always, check your local authorities recommendations and your destination travel restrictions before you plan a trip.