Sustainable Slopes

Written by Grace Houser, ESLLC 2016-2017

In Colorado, almost everyone loves the outdoors. And although that manifests in hiking, biking, and adventuring through the warmer months, the winter months are just as fun to skiers and snowboarders.

Believe it or not, skiing is not always a very good sport for the planet because of travel, emissions, and the corporations that control all of that tourism. But of course, there are countless ways to work sustainability into our passion for the slopes.

Since mountain resorts rely on their current climate to keep their tourism and economy up, they are jumping into the environmental game to keep their communities thriving. Some of these resorts are accomplishing great things such as Zermatt, Switzerland which has zero cars, electric buses, and low CO2 waste disposal. Our neighbor Park City is also impressive with its title of most sustainable ski resort in 2013. They offset 100 percent of their energy with wind power, invest in green technology, and educate visitors with information on the mountain. Aspen has all new buildings receiving LEED gold certification. They support education initiatives and locally grown crops which make a huge difference. Last but not least, Whistler has a zero waste, carbon, and net emission goal. They are investing millions toward renewable energy projects, mountain remediation, and post on their website to detail their successes.

So that’s what all the resorts are doing but we can help too. The main way to help with the movement is to reduce carbon footprint through transportation. This means at the very least carpooling with a couple of friends, but much better would be to take a train or bus that carries tons of adventurers to the mountains. Another pro tip is to avoid planes. It can be very tempting to fly to the mountains to get a week’s worth of great runs in, but it takes a toll on the planet so if flights can be avoided, do it.

Also, get green gear! This is the fun part because you can buy those dream skis in the name of helping the environment. Venture Snowboards, for example, is running completely on wind power. Boards and skis made of bamboo are also a sustainable option such as those from Paulownia. Then there’s always that option of buying used to save money and resources. If you’re channeling your inner Elon Musk, you could check out the new solar powered ski suits, vegetable based board wax, organic outdoor wear.

Finally, join the nonprofit Ski Area Citizen’s Coalition. By doing so, you’ll get to learn more about the resorts making green efforts, and the resorts that are best to avoid. Whichever way you choose to go green on the slopes (even if you’re actually going black diamond), make some changes so that you can enjoy your snowy runs, footprint free!

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