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From environmentally sustainable building techniques (think LEED certification) to organic cotton sheets and fair-trade coffee, many ski town hotels have jumped on the green wagon, and upped luxury while they’re at it. Energy efficiency and stylish eco-friendly architecture are the hallmarks of this new trend, and you can rest easy (pun intended) knowing that you’re supporting green practices in ski town development. Read up on a few of SKI Magazine’s favorite green hotels.
Above: The Cedar House Sport Hotel in Truckee, California, has a reforested-cedar exterior with recycled-steel detailing.
Skiing is one of those sports that can potentially damage the very foundation it’s built on, if we’re not careful. It’s a problem that has caused some resorts to make drastic changes to their operations to benefit the surrounding environment. From recycling programs to on-site wind turbines and solar panels, a lot of resorts want to let you know that they support the environment in every way they can, even if they are in the midst of development. To find out what they’re doing to go green – big or small – you might want to check out the following resources. You can always visit the resort’s website, too; most have a part of their site dedicated solely to environmental efforts. (Can a ski resort really be green? Read up on the debate here.)
Above: In a landmark move, Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Massachusetts recently installed an on-site wind turbine to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 33% annually. Learn more here.
By purchasing a SkiGreen Tag along with your lift ticket at participating resorts’ ticket windows (or with your season pass), you’ll be supporting a partnership between the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and leaders in the ski industry that promotes renewable energy, like wind and solar. These tags, which only cost $2, serve as “Mini-Carbon Offsets,” and each one represents enough wind energy to offset the pollution generated by driving your car for 150 miles. Go to SkiGreen.org for a list of participating resorts.
Yes, there are such things as green skis, and we’re not just talking color here. Ski manufacturers are getting more and more creative in greening their businesses and skis. Some skis have cores made from bamboo, a wood that regenerates quickly and thus is highly sustainable, unlike other types of wood like maple. Other companies are turning to alternative energy – like wind power – which reduces their carbon footprint. And one manufacturer even vows to plant a tree for every pair of skis made. See? Green isn’t just a color anymore. Check out 10 eco-friendly skis here.
Above: Grown Skis’ mission statement is dedicated to eco-efficiency in all stages of their production of skis.
It’s good to buy local – it just depends on where “local” is, well, located. Since wintertime is not the peak of growing season, many supplies still have to be transported to ski towns during snowy months. You can lessen the impact of those packaging and transportation costs by buying food and other necessities from your local businesses before you go on your trip. Get skis and boots from local rental shops at the resort, buy handmade souvenirs, and support other similar shops at your destination. That way, you’ll still be supporting local businesses in both areas, but you’ll cut down on carbon emissions near the ski town and avoid semis roaring through the quaint ski village you’re about to visit.
Above: Visitors to Aspen, CO, enjoy a nighttime window-shopping stroll through the town.
If the slopes are close, get your gang together, cram in, and carpool up to the mountain. If you have to fly there to get there, take advantage of airport shuttles and local bus systems once you’re in town so you can save the cost of renting a car. Many ski resorts have shuttles from satellite parking lots to the base areas, and some towns even offer free city-wide bus routes, like Park City (Utah), Mammoth (California), and Vail, CO.
Above: The free city-wide bus system in Park City, UT, runs on bio-diesel fuel and stops at the bases of Deer Valley, Park City, and The Canyons resorts.
“I’m on a ski vacation – am I really producing that much trash?” you might ask. It’s the little things that add up: Paper cups for hot chocolate in the mid-mountain lodge, printed-out directions to your accommodations, trail maps, bottled water, the morning paper…you get the point. Look for recycling bins near trash cans in ski lodges and hotel lobbies, and do your part to keep reusable items out of landfills. Go one step further and plan ahead – by bringing Nalgenes or Camelbacks for water, and sending directions to your mobile phone. Keep trail maps for future use, if you plan on visiting the resort again.
Above: Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming has won awards for their progressive and aggressive recycling programs. For more information, check out their recycling program.
This tip is right under your nose – literally. Tons of ski gear is now being made with recyclable fabrics, biodegradable formulas, and sheep-friendly wool. Join the party and find out which products are good for the earth:
Above: The Needle Backpack is one of Mountainsmith’s many recycled packs – the main body fabric, rip stop lining, webbing, binding, and reinforcements are all made out of recycled PET.
High quality food isn’t hard to find in most ski towns; organic food isn’t either. Organic (and better yet, locally-sourced) ingredients are not only healthy, you can be assured that they’re not tainted with pesticides or shipped in from half-way across the world. For mid-day fuel on the slopes, consider munching on organic snacks and sports drinks purchased from the local grocer.
Above: Terra Bistro in Vail, CO, sources local, natural, and organic ingredients, as well as free-range meat and poultry, for their healthful dishes, which often take on the flavors of Asia, the Southwest and the Mediterranean.
Getting pampered is just another part of a ski vacation for some people. So if you’re going to treat your body, treat it right! Check around for a spa that offers organic treatments, natural marine ingredients, and eco-friendly skin care products. Here are a few après-ski eco-spa treatments that you can indulge in:
>>>Green Coffee & Organic Pomegranate Body Trio (Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa, Teton Village, WY)
>>>Detoxifying Mud Soak (Red Earth Spa at Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa, Banff, Alberta, pictured above)
>>>Naturopathica Pure Results Facial (The Spa at Stowe Mountain Lodge, Stowe, Vermont)
Your options are looking good.
Do your research. Take these tips to heart and read up on local environment, climate, endangered species, and the effects that global warming can have on the ski industry, plus any efforts that ski areas are making to counteract their carbon footprints. Learn more at ProtectOurWinters.org.
Above: Take a snowshoe tour with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES).
You love skiing. Understandable. Want to pass on that same love of skiing to your kids? Help keep the sport alive for generations to come by teaching your kids about the science behind global warming and its potential effects on skiing. Many resorts have educational centers and programs for outreach purposes; you can find a list of them at NSAA’s searchable database.
Above: The new Top of the Sierra Interpretive Center at Mammoth Mountain in California educates visitors about the surrounding Eastern Sierras and features interactive displays with facts about local geology, hydrology, and more. Take a scenic gondola ride with the fam up to the summit and grab lunch at the Top of the Sierra Café.