The ever-growing importance of green skiing
Ecotourism is becoming a popular – even fashionable – concept. Society is conscious of its carbon footprint, vehicles are using low emissions as their USP and companies are being rewarded for their eco-friendliness. Similar trends are also appearing on the slopes as this idea takes the ski industry by (snow) storm, such as the ‘Flocon Vert’ (Green snowflake) award set up by Mountain Riders which is being dished out to resorts for their high environmentally-friendly standards.
Whilst the ski tourism industry continues to boom, this heightened respect for the planet comes as a relief when considering the impact global warming could have on the ski industry. The price to pay for a ski holiday no longer has to be on the environment’s shoulders, as choosing eco-friendly resorts and hotels has become a simple option to help address this prominent issue.
Possibly one of the most innovative eco hotels, Whitepod, lies in Les Cerniers, Switzerland. These brilliant, sci-fi-like structures glorify the environmentally-friendly concept with their changing colours to blend in with the natural landscape of each season as well as their significantly low water and energy consumption.
Another environmentalist’s paradise is Hotel Terra, which is nestled away in Jackson Hole. This delightfully sustainable hotel has more eco-friendly factors than you can shake a ski pole at, including water conservation and energy-saving techniques, not to mention the structure itself, which has been constructed from recycled materials such as steel, glass and shingles for the roof.
And it doesn’t just stop there. Eco-travel and eco-dining have also been thrown into the mix, meaning your ski trip can be a luscious colour of green without that added feeling of guilt. When looking to travel green, accessing resort by train rather than flying could, in fact, get you there faster and without the heavy emissions. Thanks to the Eurostar Ski Train from London direct to the Alps or via Lyon, you can access many major ski resorts whilst keeping your feet firmly on the ground.
Another increasingly popular choice of travel is car sharing. This concept has become easily accessible and safely monitored thanks to companies such as the French site BlaBlaCar which allow travellers to ‘Find a Ride’ with other people for a low-cost and of course, this reduces their carbon footprint whilst staying safe.
Unplugged Méribel has recently taken this eco-friendly idea to the mountains by announcing a free sharing service for all skiers travelling to Meribel and 3 Valleys area. Individuals and small groups can post their details on the web site, inviting others to share with them. This service is running from Geneva, Lyon, Grenoble and Chambery airports.
What’s more, your sustainable stay doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be forking out big cash, for example the Iglu-Dorf Davos in the Swiss Alps offers an incredible, unique experience of staying in an igloo at a decent price. For all the adventurers out there – this beautiful mountain setting could not put you any closer to nature and its sustainability means that you will be conserving that very same beauty.
However, despite the large efforts being made to focus people’s energy on conserving the mountain, snow canons are still a huge cause of concern. Today, 15 percent of French ski areas are covered with these man-made machines and it’s estimated that artificial snow-making in France takes up more water than a town with 170,000 inhabitants.
This issue of artificial snow is unfortunately crucial for certain resorts because of the diminishing snow levels due to warmer winter seasons. But luckily there are a number of eco-friendly ski resorts to choose from when hunting for a ski holiday destination this winter which are easy on the eyes – and on Mother Nature.
If it’s an eco-resort you’re after, Villars in Switzerland is the cream of the winter crop. Having been awarded a ‘Flocon Vert’, this ski village proudly boasts a green ethos regarding its water, transport, recycling, education and energy.
Another environmentally-friendly gem is Chamonix in the French Alps. Also to have been awarded a ‘Flocon Vert’ certifying its sustainability, in 2010 Chamonix became one of the first resorts in the Alps to launch its own pioneering climate and energy action plan with a goal to cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020.
Respecting the environment in resort also couldn’t be easier. Here are our top tips for taking care of your planet and preserving the ski industry:
Whenever you can, use public transport.
There are a tremendous number of resorts offering free shuttle bus services around resort, just check on the resort’s tourism office website before you arrive.
Recycle, recycle, recycle!
These days almost anything can be recycled which means that there are zero excuses – ask the tourism office or your hotel reception where the nearest recycling point is located.
Smokers: Do NOT leave your butts on the floor!
Preserve our beautiful snow by chucking finished cigarettes in the bin so resort can stay clean.
Wear eco-friendly snow gear.
There is plenty of environmentally-friendly ski kit on the market which is really worth the investment. Our favourite piece of eco-gear has to be eco-snowboard wax. Many waxes are fluorine based and once they enter the water system can be damaging to plants and animals. Butta is a great solution – a 100% eco-friendly wax fabricated on a 90% solar-panelled peacock farm in the UK.
Although often a topic of conversation, ecotourism needs to be addressed with a hands-on approach. So break your same-old ski trip habits and let this winter be the first that you go green.
Written by Hannah Goddard – Ski Club Blog Contributor