With Extinction Rebellion making recent headlines as well as the documented actions of Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage climate activist, splashed across the media, you may ask yourself what can I do to reduce my own impact on the environment? And specifically, what can I do in relation to my beloved snowboarding and skiing which are not exactly known for being carbon-friendly past-times?
It can feel somewhat disingenuous travelling to the Alps to partake in snowsports knowing the environmental damage that this can cause. We all have choices and it’s unlikely that you’ll be giving up a favourite activity anytime soon, so what changes, big and small, can you make to minimise your impact when planning a winter holiday and whilst in-resort. Here are a few ideas:
- Mode of travel: this is the ‘biggy’ because we all know that flying leaves a large carbon footprint. According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy/ DEFRA a long haul flight emits 102g of CO2 per person per kilometre travelled, whereas a car with 4 passengers is 43g of CO2 and the Eurostar is 6g of CO2. If you really want to make a difference, this is the one to focus on. Checkout the company Snowcarbon, an independent company, who specialise in train travel to ski resorts from London.
2. Choice of resort: to cut down on travel (see above) select a resort that is closer to you. Check your resort’s environmentally friendly credibility: recycling facilities, renewable energy use, low carbon emissions and eco-friendly building
design. The Grand Massif in France encompassing several resorts, including Flaine, was the first areas to be awarded ‘Green Globe’ certification. Other places are car-free such as Avoriaz in France and Saas Fee in Switzerland. The Swiss resort, Laax set up a Greenstyle Foundation aiming to be the first self-sufficient ski resort, and Kaprun’s ski lifts, in Austria, operate on renewable energy. Chamonix has developed a climate and energy action plan, and has also been awarded the Flocon Vert (green snowflake) by Mountain Riders Association who help snowboarders and skiers identify resorts committed to sustainable eco-development.
3. In resort:
- Eat locally produced food to cut down on transportation and packaging.
- Eat less meat; go ‘veggie’ for one or two meals. Tartiflette is meat-free and will use local ingredients, too.
- Bring your own shopping bags. For years, in France, if you forgot your shopping bag the supermarket would charge one euro to purchase a reusable bag. We still have some from Champion that we bought over 10 years ago.
- Use a flask that’s reusable rather than a single-use plastic bottle.
- Take rubbish home. Do not litter the slopes and pick up any litter you do see. I’m sure you’ll have heard about the non-profit #2minutebeachclean, to help rid our coastlines of plastic and marine litter, so what about #2minuteslopeclean?
- Use local transport. Do not hire a car when free resort buses are available.
4. Other helpful actions: there are plenty of other things you can do, too, such as:
- Ask your tour operator about their environmentally friendly policy.
- Contribute towards a carbon offset programme.
- Take up alternative wintersports such touring, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
- Buy environmentally friendly clothing such as those developed by Picture Clothing who use organic materials as well as recycled ones.
- Mend clothing rather than buy new. Patagonia’s ‘Worn Wear’ programme encourages people to repair their gear rather than replace it. And as part of their Continuum Project, the UK outdoor company, Alpkit, will donate old, unwanted outdoor clothing to those in need.
- Support charities such as Protect Our Winters (POW) who encourage people to take positive action to reduce their carbon footprint.
Whilst large-scale, global changes are needed and action is required by governments across the planet, we can still play our own part. We all love the mountains but the very action of getting to, and staying in, the places we cherish causes damage. By committing to one, or several, of the above we can start taking personal responsibility for our environmental impact. I want my daughter and her generation and beyond to continuing enjoying these magical places, so I am now going to begin some new practices and continue with those I’ve already started. As Greta Thunberg has said, “…imagine what we could do together if we wanted to. Every single person counts. Just like every single emission counts. Every single kilo. Everything counts.” What will you do?
Ta ta for now,