Whether you are enjoying a bluebird day in the backcountry or in the midst of a blizzard delivering endless powder for the day ahead, skiing is one of the best ways to connect with nature. However, the sport can be harmful to the environment. Skiers are already seeing the effects of climate change on our slopes as less consistent snowpacks and increasingly warm temperatures show how important it is for skiers to be accountable for their actions on and off the hill to protect winters for years to come.
With sustainably at the forefront of many skiers' minds, we compiled a list of easy changes to make to help you become more environmentally friendly on the slopes. From what to wear, how to maximize gear life, and travel tips, these small changes can make a big difference in reducing every skier's carbon footprint.
Bring a Collapsible Water Bottle
Collapsible water bottles are one of the easiest ways to eliminate waste on the slopes. These bottles can easily be filled at any water fountain and collapse to be stowed away in a pocket or backpack. Many resorts are getting rid of plastic cups entirely so collapsible water bottles are a lifesaver. Our favorites are the colorful options from que Bottle. [From $25; BUY NOW ON Amazon]
Bring Snacks in Reusable Containers
Instead of plastic bags and single-use waste, opting for reusable not only keeps your food fresh, but it keeps trash and plastic out of the landfills. Bringing your own silverware will also help you avoid the plastic utensils many resorts offer.
Check out these great zero waste snack ideas: Moveable Feast
Support Sustainable Brands
Companies like Patagonia, The North Face, and Cotopaxi are just a few outdoor brands that offer clothes and products made from recycled material. Supporting these brands not only ensures that your clothes are made in facilities that are actively working to decrease their carbon footprint, but also ensure ethical conditions for the workers. The clothes are also made with outdoor enthusiasts in mind with increased durability so they won’t need to be replaced as often. Also, consider buying secondhand from companies like Patagonia's Worn Wear to save money without contributing to the increasing problem of fast fashion.
Maximize Gear Life
Instead of getting new clothes when something rips or tears, consider patching what you can. Some companies like Patagonia will fix it for you through their Worn Wear Campaign and North Face’s ‘Clothes the Loop’. Another alternative is to donate the gear gathering dust in your closet for another life instead of sending it to the landfill.
Small rip in your favorite outerwear? For a simple fix, patches like the ones from Noso make mending a breeze because you can apply it like a sticker. They offer a variety of designs and colors so you can match the patch to your gear for a fraction of the cost and stress of a seamstress [From $5, BUY NOW ON REI].
By shopping local, you can offset the carbon emissions from shipping and reduce the amount of waste coming into your home from extra packaging. Shopping local also means a boost for the local economy by supporting small ski shops and the local workforce.
Carpool or Take the Bus
Even though there are no friends on a powder day, carpooling is a great way to save emissions and get you more stoked for the day. According to Colorado Ski Country USA, SkiCarpool.org estimates that for every 1,000 carpools, drivers save $32,000 worth of gas money and spare the environment 360,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Many resorts are even offering incentives to carpool like Aspen Snowmass who offers free parking to guests who carpool with four or more adults. There are also ride-share services like Snow Pals that help coordinate carpools between the Bay Area and Lake Tahoe resorts. Buses are a great option with many resorts offer shuttle services from nearby towns.
Try Uphill Skiing
Nothing is better than an early morning on a skin track earning your turns. Backcountry skiing is a great way to get a killer workout with human power instead of fossil fuels. It's also a way to avoid the dreaded ski traffic on the weekends.
Ready to learn the basics of uphill skiing? Check out SKI Magazine's online course and get touring
Offset Your Carbon Emissions
While offsetting carbon emissions from a drive to the mountain may seem like a daunting task to undertake every weekend, it is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to limit the amount of carbon dioxide you contribute to the slowly warming planet.
According to carbonfootprint.com, a year's worth of carbon emissions for an average diesel car (based on average mileage) can be offset through high quality and verified projects for less than $6.60 a year. First, you can calculate your carbon footprint online from many websites such as nature.org. From there, you can choose from a variety of projects through many different organizations that will actively work to remove the carbon you emit. This can be done for travel by car and plane so every ski trip can be accounted for. This simple habit makes a huge difference on the grand scale, considering transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in the USA. For credible projects to purchase credits through, check out American Carbon Registry or Climate Action Reserve.
Pack In and Pack Out
The golden rule of camping also applies to skiing. The amount of trash found on ski resorts at the end of each season is astronomical. Last summer during a mountain cleanup event, Eldora Mountain Resort employees and volunteers collected over 4,000 pounds of waste from the mountain. Much of which was left behind from skiers and boarders and can seriously harm not only the environment but the animals that call the mountain home.
Donate or, better yet, volunteer with one of the many companies such as Protect Our Winters (POW) or the Sierra Club, who are making a difference and uniting the outdoor sports community against climate change. Voting is also one of the most powerful tools in the sustainability movement. It is important to be an involved citizen and vote in local and national elections to make sure that elected officials have your best interests in mind.
Watch how some skiers are putting these ideas to action: 'Electric Greg'