While we live for winters in the mountains and enjoy traveling the world through skiing, the snow sports community faces an unfortunate conundrum. The harsh reality is that our sport requires consistently cold winters and persistent, heavy snowfall yet the snow sport’s experience is harmful to the environment and leaves an immense, unsustainable carbon footprint. It’s overwhelming when you factor in the energy consumption to make skiing accessible to the masses: the energy required to run chairlifts and snow cats, the development of lodges and base areas, the water used to create artificial snow, the deforestation of trails, the waste production of resort towns and the boundless miles that the snow sport’s community are willing to travel to reach destination resorts.
For most of us snow sports are more than just a hobby, it is a way of life. It’s true – our World would not be the same without the simple joy of sliding on snow. That simple joy is now at stake for our generation and future generations to come because of the Earth’s rising temperature. Here are some facts from the founder of Protect Our Winter’s, Jeremy Jones:
- The last decade has been the hottest on record. Each of the last three decades has been much warmer than the decade before it, with each one setting a new and significant record for the highest global temperature.
- In the Lake Tahoe area, spring arrives two weeks earlier now than it did in 1961.
- In the Northeast, by 2039, the average ski season will be less than 100 days and the probability of being open for Christmas will decline below 75%.
The effects of climate change desperately hit home for the ski and snowboard community. According to one study, resorts in Massachusetts or Connecticut are not likely to survive the next 30 years and Park City, Utah may have no snowpack left by the end of the century. We are one of the first groups who currently are and will be faced with the consequences of rising temperatures. Our sport and economy have everything to lose from a shorter winter and a less predictable snowfall and snowpack.
We know that the skiing and snowboarding population is not the face of sustainability. Yet if the snow sport’s community as a whole made small changes to their routines it could work towards a more promising future. We laid out some ways that you can help mitigate your carbon footprint on your next ski vacation!
It’s no secret that traveling has major environmental consequences for air pollution. Especially airplane travel which releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide. While traveling is a positive experience and one of the most important aspects of people’s lives, we tend to overlook the negative impact it has on our environment. While it is always fun to chase powder or adventure to new resorts try to limit your traveling and ski at more local resorts! To reduce your carbon footprint while you are traveling try to take direct flights or use ground transportation. Also, you can consider making up for you footprint by purchasing carbon offsets.
Choose Sustainable Resorts and Accommodations
Reducing skiing’s carbon footprint should start at the core – the resorts. If you are traveling to the mountains, do some research and start supporting resorts and hotels that are taking productive steps to integrate sustainable practices. Some of these practices include increasing renewable energy like solar and wind power, greenhouse gas reductions, providing biodiesel public transportation and actively supporting government policies to push sustainability efforts.
Utilize Public Transportation
Many resort towns have started to amp up their public transportation by providing free or cheap busses that stop at hotels and major spots around town. Reduce gas emissions and hop on! Who wants to deal with the resort parking lots anyways?
Eat and Drink Local
When you are traveling to resort towns, make an effort to drink the local beers or liquor and eat at restaurants that provide local food. The less your food travels, the less of an impact it has on the environment. Be adventurous, you have the rest of your life to drink Bud Light.
Reuse and Recycle
We know this one may be tough to swallow, but we don’t need new ski gear every year. While the majority of the skiing community comes from an affluent background and can afford new gear, it is not a sustainable practice. When you are done with your gear, donate or sell them to second-hand shops!
Join Protect Our Winters and Take the POW 7 Pledge
Only YOU can make a difference, take action now! Getting involved with Protect Our Winters is easy! Join the movement and submit your email address here. They will give you the knowledge and opportunities to make a difference! POW has made it easy for you by compiling a list of the best and most effective actions for you to tackle. The POW SEVEN is simple and effective. Be aware – Reduce your personal carbon footprint and understand your impact on the environment. Educate yourself and speak up! Be up on the issues, especially during election time. Pledge to do the POW SEVEN once a month and you’ll make a difference!