HOW TO BE A SUSTAINABLE SNOWSPORTS LOVER
Let’s face it: the climate is changing and the mountain playgrounds we love are too. It’s no secret that snowsports aren’t the most sustainable of activities, but if we want to keep going back to the mountains, we need to do what we can to protect them for years to come. But where do you start? That’s where we come in. We’ve pulled together a list of tips to help continue doing what you love, whilst doing your bit for the planet and reducing your impact.
Invest in your gear
One of the biggest factors on climate change is consumerism and in particular, the clothing industry. We’re obviously not about to tell you to stop buying snowsports gear (we’d be out of a job, and you’d be pretty cold on the mountain!) but you can make better choices that will help to reduce your impact. The most sustainable gear is the gear you already own, so investing in quality gear that doesn’t need to be replaced as often, is a great place to start. Better still, you can invest in sustainable brands such as Picture or Patagonia, who are actively producing more environmentally friendly skiwear to help you make more sustainable choices.
Look after your gear
Another sure-fire way to help your gear last long is to look after it. If your gear is dirty or damaged, it doesn’t mean it’s the end. Washing, patching, reproofing and repairing will all help to extend the life if the gear you love meaning you can keep using it on the mountain and keep it out of landfill. Services like Repair & Care and ski servicing are available in-store if you need a bit of expert attention, or you can do-it-yourself with technical washes, reproofing agents and even a good old bit of duct tape. The best gear has stories to tell after all.
Recycle your gear
Even the best gear in the world doesn’t last forever. So, when you’ve washed, patched and repaired your gear till you can no more, what do you do with it? Recycle it of course. Our Recycle my Gear service allows you to recycle a huge range of products in-store or at one of 11,000 locations across the UK. We’ll give your unwanted gear a second life, either donating it to those in need or using the materials to make something new. You can do the same with your skis too. Keep your old skis for parts, in case you need to make repairs or, if your gear still does the job but you fancy a fresh set-up, donate it to new skiers just getting into the sport who might not be ready to make an investment just yet.
Not all resorts are created equal. Shop around to see which resorts are trying to reduce their environmental impact and offering more sustainable options to their visitors. Look out for solar-powered lifts, biodiesel piste-bashers and carless resorts, as well as those resorts who are actively trying to look after and preserve the natural environment from which they make their living.
Sure, it might be easy to just hop on a plane, but there are other, more sustainable ways to travel to the mountains. Why not car-pool with friends and turn it into a road trip, or take the train or bus and drink in the scenery en route? When you’re in resort, walk wherever possible or use public transport for those locations which are a bit further away. And when you’re on the mountain, why not give cross-country a go and swap the lifts for your skis? We challenge you to take only two lifts a day – the first and last.
Leave no trace
This one goes without saying, but we can all admit to forgetting ourselves when we’re on holiday, particularly in the mountains. Sure, you might not want to carry that wrapper round in your pocket all day, but the mountain wants it even less. Take all your litter with you including, for the smokers out there, your cigarette butts. Even things like broken gear can have lasting damage on the environment, so if you take a tumble and snap a ski, pole or even just a buckle, swallow your pride and return to the scene to make sure you haven’t left anything behind. Take a reusable bottle for water and a bag to put any litter in to take back to resort with you.
Respect the wild
Remember that most of the places you explore on the mountain provide a natural habitat for wildlife. Try to avoid damaging plants and trees, especially when off-piste, and avoid sensitive areas. That barricade might be there for your safety, but it could also be there to protect natural habitats too. If you do come across any animals, keep your distance and avoid disturbing them. Take note of where you saw them and avoid that area for the rest of your trip. They probably didn’t expect to see you either!
Stick to the snow
Try to ski or board in areas with complete snow cover. Not only will it be a better experience for you, but you’ll avoid slicing through vegetation under the snowpack which could take years to regenerate. Reduced snow fall and patchy snowpack are both a result of climate change, so this one works on more than one level.
Support environmental organisations
There are plenty of organisations out there doing their bit and fighting the fight. But many of them are charities who rely on donations and need help raising awareness of the issues they champion. Non-profits such as Protect Our Winters do great work to protect the outdoors, particularly the mountains and by supporting them, you can help to reduce the impact of climate change on the snowsports community.
Offset your CO2
If you are travelling by plane or car, why not offset your CO2? There are lots of websites out there who can help you do just that. Calculate your emissions and purchase carbon offsets, and your contribution funds certified environmental projects such as conserving or restoring forests, generating clean and renewable energy, or increasing energy efficiency. These projects reduce or capture equivalent CO2 emissions that would otherwise be in the atmosphere. Pretty cool, right?
Make it a lifestyle
Even when you’re on holiday, try to live as sustainably as possible. Recycle where you can, reuse your towels in the hotel, buy local produce when self-catered, reduce the amount of water and energy you use and CO2 you produce. Educate yourself on the impact you have as a snowsports fan and what more you can do to reduce it. Use the services of sustainable businesses where available and support and respect those who live and work in the mountains. Being a responsible mountain visitor goes a long way.
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