You love skiing and you love the mountains, but do you know how to be environmentally friendly while skiing? We give you the keys to being a sustainable and nature-conscious skier.
The mountain has a hypnotic essence that makes us come back again and again. Despite the fun of being in a ski resort, we cannot let its dynamic environment confuse us. Although it is a built-up space, adapted by humans and sometimes even overcrowded, we must not forget that the snow we tread on is part of one of the most delicate ecosystems in existence. For this reason, it must become an individual challenge as an athlete to learn to be a more sustainable and responsible skier.
To begin with, our first gestures towards being a sustainable skier can be made by thinking about how to get to the resort where we are going to enjoy our day’s skiing. There are many reasons why driving to the resorts is inconvenient. If traffic jams, nervousness when parking or queues to find a parking space are not reason enough to give up the idea of driving to the resort, the amount of CO2 emitted by doing so is.
Using public transport to get to stations is not only much more convenient, it will also significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
If the station you want to reach is not accessible by public transport, make sure you carry chains in your car in case you need to. Carrying chains is much safer for the occupants of the vehicle and reduces the frequency with which snow ploughs, which use salt that is very damaging to rivers and subsoil, have to pass through.
Another option that will help to protect the environment is to share a car with other people going to the same station. In this post we show you an example of how the Val d’Allos resort offered last season an exclusive offer for those who shared their car with other skiers.
Don’t just take away the experience
It seems logical to dispose of waste in the waste bins, but a large amount of waste accumulates on the ski slopes and remains on the mountain long after we have left.
These plastics end up in animal dens or in rivers during the spring thaws. It is essential that in a particularly vulnerable ecosystem such as the high mountains we take into consideration that it is very difficult to carry out extensive cleaning work because of the difficulty of accessing every corner of the resort.
Remember, although organic residues decomposes in a short time, you must deposit it and all recyclable items in the litter bins. Organic waste litters the station facilities and attracts animals that could become ill from ingesting it.
On the other hand, it is not only recycling that is important. It is just as important, if not more so, to reduce the single-use packaging to which we are accustomed and which is very natural for us to use. By carrying your own reusable bottle, for example, you considerably reduce a very common waste product such as plastic bottles.
By collecting and recycling our rubbish, as well as reducing our consumption, we allow everyone to enjoy clean and well-kept roads.
We are not always aware of which actions pollute
When we talk about sustainability, we are aware that leaving waste is polluting or that we emit harmful gases when we drive. Naturally, we are not used to treating certain less recurrent issues as pollutants, as not all of these actions are so clearly distinguishable.
A clear example of this is noise pollution. Even though we may be overwhelmed with excitement on the slopes, avoiding loud noises and loud music is very important, as it not only disturbs our skiing neighbours, but also disturbs the peace and quiet of the local wildlife. Although they are not always visible, they are there and are essential for the proper functioning of the ecosystem.
Another factor that we are not always aware of is the use of heaters. Staying in the high mountains in winter, logically the nights will be cold and heating is essential for our wellbeing. However, trying to keep warm so that you don’t have to turn the thermostat up too high is a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint. Being in short sleeves in the hotel room is very comfortable, but very unsustainable.
Of course, not everything we can do to be sustainable skiers has to be done once we are on the slopes. When it comes to buying ski equipment, it is much more environmentally friendly to buy quality clothing. Doing so avoids falling into the fast fashion model, with textiles being the second most polluting industry in the world. This has the added benefit of having more durable and resistant garments that, even though they involve a higher initial outlay, are much more cost-effective in the long run. One brand we love is undoubtedly Picture. If you also buy clothes in the surrounding villages you will be buying handmade products while helping to support the rural economy.
Your holiday place, your home
To be a sustainable skier, a basic principle is to love the mountain that provides such unforgettable experiences. It is therefore essential to respect its ecosystem, keeping in mind the inhabitants that need it most, the flora and fauna.
Just by following a few tips we can become much more aware of our impact on nature.
Apart from being dangerous for the skier, it is very harmful for the environment to go off-piste. It is important to bear in mind that when skiing outside the defined areas we are entering a natural habitat and can cause damage, having a negative impact on both the flora and fauna of the area.
For the same reason, in high mountain areas, there is a rule never to collect animals, plants or rocks from the area. We cannot know whether or not they are protected species and we would be encouraging the desertification of the area. A very specific case is the hobby of collecting lichen and moss to decorate nativity scenes during the Christmas season. This has such a harmful effect that it had to be banned with fines of up to €200,000 if it is in a protected area, such as a natural park. Often the most innocent actions have negative consequences that we could not even imagine beforehand, such as soil erosion or the disappearance of micro-organisms necessary for fertile soil for spring.
Broaden your engagement
The individual commitment of the sustainable skier is fundamental to protecting the environment. But if you want to go further, make sure you ski at resorts that share your values. As their commitment to the environment and the protection of the mountains grows, their regulations are adapting to the sensitivities of the times.
Once there, always remember to consider the requests of the signs and the resort staff, for your safety and for the well-being of the natural environment.
Skiing is a sport in contact with nature. Therefore, having an active commitment to protecting the environment in which it is practised is a guarantee of a future of great experiences.