How the Ski Industry is Working to Save Winter

The outdoor industry is upping its sustainability game, and the ski industry is no exception. Downhill skiing is notoriously known for its environmental impact—anywhere large amounts of people flock is bound to be a recipe for excessive waste. But hitting the slopes may arguably be the most carbon-intensive outdoor sport.

In particular, ski slopes use incredible amounts of electricity, from slope-side lighting and fuel-intensive snow-making to keeping things toasty inside for patrons drinking their aprés hot cocoas. But energy isn’t the only hungry environmental monster. In the French Alps, it is estimated that yearly artificial snow production requires the same amount of water as would be used by 1,500 people. That’s a lot of water waste for just a little fake snow. And that’s not to mention the impacts of fake snow on the natural environment, which requires immense energy to produce, causes water displacement, and melts 2 to 3 weeks later in the season than natural snow, which postpones snowmelt. Scientists are still unsure about the ramifications of this.

No one can argue that ski resorts have a lot to lose when it comes to climate change and warming global temperatures. They rely primarily on a cold, snowy winter season, so it is in the industry’s best interests to do all it can to thwart a complete environmental meltdown. And that’s why ski resorts nationwide are looking to seriously green up their acts.

Many ski areas have pledged to do all they can to keep up with Paris Climate Accord goals, even though the US government has pulled out. Green building policies are being implemented for new condominiums in order to protect nearby animal habitats. Ski California has already set goals for water conservation, land preservation, increased clean public transit options and general increased efficiency and sustainability all around. There are plenty of ways to reduce the skiing industry’s carbon footprint, and that’s great for both skiers and the industry at large.

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But the ski industry is looking to get even greener.

Resorts across the country are working to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and make the move towards renewable energy. Jiminy Peak in Western Massachusetts runs one third of its energy needs (two thirds in winter) off of wind power, and they are looking to reduce their carbon footprint more and more each year.

Even more impressive, California ski resort Squaw Valley has just released its plan to go 100 percent renewable by as early as December 2018. The move from fossils to renewables by the ski industry is hopefully the first step in a larger shift in outdoor recreation towards renewable energy. After all, in order to play outdoors you need a healthy, clean environment to do it in.

If you love skiing but have a green conscience, it is important to choose your resort destinations carefully. Factor in airline travel, the resort’s sustainability practices, the gear and food you buy, weather and anything else to make sure you aren’t adding to the problem. And if your local slope isn’t greening it up, talk to the manager, show them what some other resorts are doing and discuss ways you think cleaner practices could increase their slope’s economic and environmental viability in tandem. Let’s be real: increased environmental consciousness will pay off for all of us on the long run.

Do you love skiing? What do you think you could do on your own to make your season pass less carbon intensive? Share your best ideas below!    

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Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

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W. C
W. C4 months ago

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William C
William C4 months ago

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Stephanie Y5 months ago

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Stephanie s
Stephanie Y5 months ago

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Jerome S
Jerome S5 months ago

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Jerome S
Jerome S5 months ago

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Jim Ven
Jim V5 months ago

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Jim Ven
Jim V5 months ago

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Paulo R
Paulo R6 months ago

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