The latest climate report released by the World Meteorological Organization tells us more of the same old depressing news: the earth is continuing its relentless heating, causing our glaciers to melt and our ski seasons to get increasingly shorter. But there's no need to watch helplessly from the sidelines as we watch our snowpacks disappear. On the whole, we skiers are an affluent bunch. It's time we stepped up to save our winters. From enjoying discounts for eco-friendly choices to choosing sustainable ski resorts, here are 5 ways to look out for Mother Nature.
France's Le Flocon Vert program certifies certain ski resorts who have made exceptional efforts to be environmentally sustainable. Currently there are just 6 of them: Valberg, Chamrousse, La Pierre Saint Martin, Les Rousses, Chamonix Mont-Blanc and Châtel. To obtain the Flocon Vert, ski resorts must meet 21 criteria that cover everything from rubbish collection to energy production to education to working conditions. Ski resorts undergo a rigorous evaluation process including a questionnaire with 128 questions followed by an on-site inspection and a thorough review of their application. Only if the committee decides they have displayed a commitment to their sustainability strategy will they be rewarded with the Flocon Vert label, which is valid for 3 years.The Flocon Vert eco-label takes 21 criteria into consideration © Le Flocon Vert
Sustainability doesn't have to be completely incompatible with luxury travel. Switzerland-based Lagom, in Zermatt, offers a service sustainability score/positive impact rating whereby guests save money every time they make an environmentally friendly choice. Don't need disposable toiletries? Can you do without daily housekeeping? Prefer to take the train to the Alps instead of the plane? Indicate your preference when booking and you'll get a discount for each one of these choices. Lagom also offers the opportunity to offset the rest of your carbon emissions, so you can travel guilt-free. 1% of proceeds go towards local sustainability and other community projects.
The EU Ecolabel doesn't just restrict itself to ski resorts: this comprehensive label strives to expose the entire life cycle of a product, from raw material extraction all the way through a product's lifetime until the final disposal. The EU Ecolabel is only granted to those who meet the stringent criteria. You can look for the label in wide-ranging places such as supermarkets, clothing stores, and tourist accommodation providers. Austria has 48 eco-friendly accommodation providers listed, including in the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn, Kitzbühel and Zell am Ziller.Ski seasons are already getting shorter, leading to brown hills in March this year
Clothing brands like Picture Organic Clothing and Patagonia are taking nifty steps such as using recycled materials to reduce their (and your) carbon footprint, and ethically produced skis and snowboards are also available from companies such as Jones Snowboards, Mervin Made and Grown Skis, who make their skis from hemp. When it's time to refresh your gear, consider sourcing from these great eco-friendly alternatives.
Litter and ski and snowboard wax can leak toxins into the snow and ruin the habitat for the local animals. Plastic is the scourge of the earth, as we all know. And natural habitat is often sacrificed in return for the energy used to heat your chalet or run the lifts. We can all do our small bit for Mother Nature with simple actions like picking up litter from the slopes, bringing a reusable water bottle and turning down the heating a few degrees. When all is said and done, we travel to the Alps to ski. If we can't do that, what use are those 8-person chairlifts with fancy heated seats?
It's easy for us to recommend avoiding flying to a ski resort, but what's a person supposed to do when most of the ski resorts are a 10+ hour drive away? Offsetting the carbon emissions from your flight can be a great place to start. More and more airline providers are jumping on board with offering to offset the carbon emissions of your flight at the time of booking. If you want to offset carbon emissions not just from one flight but from your whole holiday or on an annual basis, organisations like Mossy Earth offer options for you to do just that. Mossy Earth works by planting trees that you can actually visit - a neat incentive and an easy way to help save the planet!
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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