There is a plethora of literature out right now on why doing things local is the way of the future—there is even a new language surrounding this movement (see: locavore). But whether or not you subscribe to this movement, there are definitely things that you can take from it to make your ski boot print a bit greener.
Stay local. Physically, stay as close to your ski resort as possible. It saves gas, time, and money. Figuratively, stay at a hotel or motel that is local—owned by locals, employs locals, and uses local products.
Eat local. Again, shy away from fast food chains and to-go containers. Dine at facilities that use local food, if possible, and if not, patron restaurants with local flavor via entertainment, staff, events, and ideas. And while you’re at it—try eating there instead of taking it to go. You’ll save on garbage waste!
Spend local. It’s a fact—when you vacation you’re going to end up spending money. But why spend it at a giant chain that you could purchase the same goods while you are home? Take the time to visit local shops and retailers—they are bound to not only know the area and spark up some good conversation with you, but you’ll also be supporting the local economy and take something unique back home with you.
2) Don’t Litter
This is a fairly obvious one (we hope), but take your trash with you. This includes your paper, plastic, and aluminum products as well as your food items (info on litter here). An orange peel takes 2 years to decompose and though the wildlife might eat some of your leftovers, it’s not great for them! And keep your butts—cigarette butts can take 5 years to decompose. Mountains tend to have trash receptacles all over, and they’re not for looks. Use them!
3) Respect Wildlife
We’re on their land, so respect all these creatures. If you see a forest critter, don’t feed it (purposely or by leaving your food behind, see above). Stay out of areas not meant for skiing as this could disturb their habitat even more. And whether it is a bird or a bear, smile at the beauty of nature but leave it be.
If you’re a new skier, skip the brand new equipment and head to a used ski shop. You’ll save lots of money by picking up someone’s previously loved skis and boots as well as giving a home to something that otherwise might have ended up in a landfill! If you’re an intermediate skier, try keeping your equipment for more than one season. For an avid skier, designate certain equipment for certain days/features/mountains—it cuts the chance of wearing your equipment out. And when it is time to upgrade, send your stuff to a ski shop to be picked up by a novice. It’s the circle of life folks!
Another no-brainer, and probably the easiest tip of them all! Instead of throwing your plastic soda container into the trash, take one step farther and put it into the recycling bin. This goes for your empty beer bottles as well—but hey, save some more bottles and just get a pitcher and reuse your glass!
6) Share a Ride
Of course, we mean this in the standard, hitch a ride with your friend to the mountain instead of driving alone way, but we also mean it in a make friends with the person going solo on the four-person chairlift kind of way as well. Both will save time and energy when getting from point A to point B.
7) Respect Resort Signs
All of them. Whether it says trail closed or off-limits or out-of-bounds, respect ‘em. There are numerous reasons that a sign could be somewhere. If a trail is closed, maybe there isn’t enough snow cover on it—if you start skiing on it you could be ruining the snow already there, creating more need for snowmaking to fix what you’ve ruined. If part of the mountain is off-limits, it could possibly be a wildlife preservation zone (not a far cry in places like the Adirondacks!). And if something is out-of-bounds, Eco-Friendly or not, you should probably heed that advice regardless.
8) Travel Eco-Friendly
If you’re traveling to your ski resort of choice, travel as eco-friendly as possible. There are tons of ways to do this, from packing your suitcase with re-wearable clothes, to taking public transport, to preparing your home for when you’re gone. Every little bit helps! For more sustainable travel tips, check out ResponsibleTravelReport.com.
Let’s face it, skiing is awesome. But let’s also face it, skiing isn’t the most environmentally friendly past time. Ski resorts are making strides to create a more environmentally friendly way to enjoy one of nature’s playgrounds, but it’s up to us as well to do our parts. So tackle the list a tip at a time or make your next ski trip revolve around Eco-Friendly skiing. But remember, we have to help at least a little, because we don’t want to lose this winter playground forever.