For those of you who love the thrill of hitting the chilly slopes, skiing is one of winter’s most exciting prospects. Unfortunately, climate change is taking a toll on winter snow levels and, with high energy consumption, transportation emissions, and bulky equipment, the sport itself takes a toll on Mother Nature. So how can you ski more sustainably? If you live in Western North America, here are some ski resorts that are committed to eco-friendly practices.
- Diamond Peak, Nevada: This resort is community-owned and the second to ever receive the STOKE Certified seal which evaluates resorts’ sustainable practices. Diamond Peak visitors will see these practices in action including free shuttles and electric car charging stations, pocket-friendly reusable water pouches, and eco-friendly snowmaking equipment.
- Aspen Snowmass, Colorado: This mountain has been a leader in eco-friendly changes since the 1990s. The resort features a LEED-certified hotel and practices such as solar energy use, mountain-wide compositing, and energy reduction practices. The resort even uses waste methane from a nearby coal plant to power operations with clean energy.
- Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico: This resort is B-Corp certified and working to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020. They have eliminated plastic-bottle sales, installed energy-efficient lighting, and aided in watershed restorations of the area which allows them to cut down on energy-intensive snowmaking.
- Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, California: A previous Olympic site, this resort is the first to run 100 percent on renewable energy, which helped cut its carbon footprint in half. The resort also incentivizes carpooling with a “Save Our Winters” carpool lot and uses durable stone paper trail maps to reduce waste.
- Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia: This resort has a special Mountain Planning and Environmental Resource team which ensures that recreation projects are built in harmony with ecosystems. It is also smoke-free, has invested millions into mountain restoration, and offers composting at all its restaurants. Lastly, the resort created “The Big Picture” documentary to educate about the relationship between climate change and skiing.
- Wolf Springs, Colorado: This resort has been offsetting its power use with wind energy since 2006 and now it is home to the first solar-powered ski area. Its snowcats run on grape seed oil and its restrooms are “water-free” so they produce no discharge.
- Vail Ski Resort, Colorado: This famous spot has promised a goal of zero-net emissions and zero-waste to landfills by 2030. The resort has planted or restored one acre of forest for each acre affected by the resort’s operations and all its restaurants use EcoProducts.
Skiing is a lot of fun, but it can be taxing on our environment. If you’re planning a mountain getaway this winter, consider one of these more sustainable resorts and think about the climate impact of your vacation choices such as destination, travel emissions, and personal habits. Check out our article on how to travel sustainably for more tips on green vacationing.