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Published on Friday, February 21, 2020

Is there such a thing as eco-friendly skiing?

It is harder to imagine being closer to nature than staying high the mountains, breathing fresh, clean air, amid the driven snow, a world apart from pollution-filled cities. The mountains draw over a million British skiers each year, but ironically in this natural idyll, the cancer of CO2 emissions is very real. Flights, resorts filled with machinery, ski equipment, ski lifts, warm clothing, snow cannons, warm hotels with spas, toiletries in plastic bottles, take-away cartons paint a less than green picture.
Far from spelling the end of skiing, environmentally responsible ski resorts, holiday and equipment companies and conscious skiers themselves are taking active steps to lower the impact of mountain holidays. Ski Beat sales and marketing director Laura Hazell said: "We are conscious that all international travel is considered bad for the environment. We have therefore taken steps to reduce our impact on the environment, as have our guests and our aim is to make significant improvements in the future."
Here are Laura's top tips for green skiing:
Wheels, not wings
It's not often that reaching for the car keys is considered a green alternative but car-sharing down to the Alps is a viable way of lowering the vapour trail of carbon emissions. Train travel saves around 80% of carbon emissions compared to flying and direct routes to the Alps make it a straightforward choice. But watch out for long transfers on arrival, choose resorts closer to main rail destinations.
Destination green
Small and more recently-built ski resorts, such as car-free La Tania (pictured above), were constructed on a human scale to blend with nature, using locally-sourced materials from renewable sources. But even the early resorts of the 60s and 70s, such as La Plagne, are taking on eco responsibility, regenerating meadows and forests, protecting rivers and removing obsolete ski infrastructure, while a new biofuel heating facility in La Plagne centre has reduced C02 emissions by 4000 tons. Choose carefully to support the green initiatives.
Skiing is gear-heavy, from warm outerwear to thermals, gloves and hats and water repellent clothing often contains harmful perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). Many eco alternatives from natural materials are now available and are an excellent bio alternative to petroleum based materials. Or buy second hand, rent in resort or borrow from friends to join the green scene.

Mountain meals traditionally included ingredients grown close to home using local produce. The miles now required to transport food up the mountains to hungry skiers and the heavy carbon footprint of the meat and dairy industry complicate the calories versus carbon equation. Choosing companies such as Ski Beat who source locally where possible, offer plant-based alternatives in every chalet, and whose lean management ethos has saved food waste and helped to keep the carbon in trim.

Waste not
A small Italian resort became the first plastic free ski area in 2020 after traces of plastic was found in a nearby glacier. Plastic bags, lost and discarded ski equipment, bottles, disposable toiletry containers, lift passes and clothing all put the environment at risk and threaten to enter the food chain. To ski green avoid take-away packaging and cutlery, use a refillable water bottle, don't take sauces in sachets or plastic, and only stay with companies who have responsible waste recycling programmes. This season Ski Beat became the first company to use 100% recycled and recyclable, second-use R-PET containers for its L'Occitane toiletries. 

Laura added: "Just as we would at home, we need to consider our impact on the environment when we travel. This is something Ski Beat is taking very seriously and the combined conscience of skiers, resort operators and hospitality companies now will help keep the mountains sustainable for future generations to enjoy."
How Ski Beat is helping to keep the mountains green:
  • Ski Beat offices and French chalets operate separation and recycling of waste.
  • Offices and chalets use only ceramic or compostable cups for hot drinks.
  • Ski Beat has cut food waste significantly by applying a lean management policy which has led to many improvements in the production of 12,000 meals per week.
  • Wherever possible Ski Beat works with local suppliers and producers reducing transportation and contributing to the local communities.
  • Ski Beat's 70 chalet chefs are trained to prepare a high quality vegan menu. In the last two years, Ski Beat has become recognised globally as a leading Vegan-friendly hospitality company with many guests and families choosing to 'go vegan' for their week's ski holiday.
  • Ski Beat's newer chalets, such as Chalet Pierra Menta in Plagne 1800, are being constructed to more stringent environmental eco-friendly standards than ever before and several chalets now have zero-emission biomass heating systems and make use of melted snow where untreated water can be used.

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