Skiers Look to Combat Global Warming, Preserve Slopes

Skiing
Eco-conscious skiers hope to preserve the beauty of the slopes.
Photo courtesy of Alain Bachellier via Flickr

Skiing enthusiasts witnessing changing weather patterns connected to global warming are finding ways to help ensure the sustainability of their sport. While melting glaciers and snowless ski resorts are often linked to releases of greenhouse gases in locations far from the slopes, environmentally minded skiers can help minimize the impacts of the sport locally by supporting “green” resorts, ski shops, and other facilities.

The Ski Club, based in the United Kingdom, has compiled a database comparing the eco-efforts of ski resorts in countries ranging from Andorra to the United States. According to the group’s website, “skiers and [snow]boarders are some of the first to see the impact of climate change.” The database ranks resorts in categories that include climate policy, recycling, and traffic reduction, offering skiers a quick overview of a resort’s environmental efforts. The Ski Club’s “Green Resort Guide” also features a brief description of resorts’ unique environmental initiatives.

Other groups, like the U.S.- based Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition (SACC) and National Ski Areas Association, have their own systems for categorizing the environmental progress of resorts. Aspen Mountain ski resort in Colorado is ranked number one in its region by the SACC. The resort’s eco-initiatives include conserving water and energy by avoiding snowmaking, skier and employee carpooling initiatives, protecting endangered species habitat, and raising public awareness via its “Save Snow” campaign. Efforts at resorts across the United States have led to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions equal to the benefit of 13 million trees being planted.

Some resorts offer inexpensive “SkiGreen Tags” that enable skiers to offset their carbon emissions related to the sport. And thrifty eco-skiers use secondhand equipment and clothing and try to ensure that used gear is passed on to others decrease the impact on the planet. People looking to hit the slopes with newer equipment can find snowboards made from bamboo, socks made using recycled materials, and other environmentally friendly goods.

This story was produced by Eye on Earth, a joint project of the Worldwatch Institute and the blue moon fund. View the complete archive of Eye on Earth stories, or contact Staff Writer Alana Herro at aherro@worldwatch.org with your questions, comments, and story ideas.

Skiing enthusiasts witnessing changing weather patterns connected to global warming are finding ways to help ensure the sustainability of their sport.