You get up in the morning and the first thing you do is run to the window and marvel at the beauty of the mountains in front of you. Crystal white snow, mountains, green pine trees and wooden chalets… To the mind’s eye this is a far-away place from the concrete jungle of today’s cities. But behind this green, clean and traditional landscape, are ski resorts all that environmentally-friendly?
The easiest answer to this question is no. With huge metal structures (so-called chairlifts) creating noise pollution, piste-bashers with their diesel tanks and thousands of tourists a day who throw their cigarette butts onto the mountain, chuck their sandwich crusts behind rocks and leave packets of chocolate everywhere, it’s hard for ski resorts to keep on top of any sort of green credentials. We are slowly but surely destroying the very environment that skiing relies on and with snow becoming a rare sight in December, ski resorts are waking up to the fact that something needs to change.
Electric cars and buses have been introduced in places such as Villars or in Switzerland, and the Flocon Vert programme encourages ski resorts to become greener in their use of infrastructure and renewable energy. Aspen in Colorado is expecting to have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 from 2000, through the use of renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects. Ski resorts are also looking to better insulate their public buildings and add solar panels, hoping to cut their emissions in the coming years.
But what can we do as visitors? When making the most of the beautiful snow and mountains, preserving this landscape should be at the forefront of our minds. Here’s a couple of things that you can do to help:
1. Recycle, recycle, recycle
You recycle at home, why don’t you do it in a ski resort? You might be on holiday but recycling should have become part of your daily life by now, don’t leave it at home!
2. Don’t throw your packets and your cigarette butts on the ground
Many ski resorts now give away free portable ash-trays that you can carry in your pocket to dispose of your cigarette butts. Keep your packets until you get home or find a bin near a chairlift or patroller’s cabin.
3. Don’t use excessive heat
We know that it’s cold in ski resorts but you don’t need to put the heating up to 25 degrees all day, every day. Use the same principles that you’d use at home. If you’re out skiing all day, turn the heating off! Most ski chalets are well-insulated and shouldn’t lose too much heat during the day.
4. Don’t take your car everywhere, walk!
Many ski resorts have free shuttle bus services and a lot of things are just a small walk away. It might be cold, but take advantage of the clean mountain air. You might even be able to catch a glimpse of some stars, away from the light pollution of cities.
With the COP21 which took place in Paris in December, we will hopefully be able to find a way to keep the mountains the way they are today, without getting to a stage where snow in December is a thing of the past. In the meantime, if everyone who uses ski resorts to enjoy themselves thought about the impact that they were having and tried to do something to reduce it, we should be able to help on a much bigger scale.
What do you think?