Our winter stoke Giveaway is going on now; sign up here!
Let’s face it: sometimes a love of the outdoors can force an environmentalist into uncomfortable positions. Road trips to the desert require gas, your kayak is made out of petro-chemicals, and that long dreamed of trip to Patagonia is going to require one CO2-heavy flight. Then winter rolls around, and if you love to ski (as I do), you might start to wonder if all those lifts, groomers and lodges we use are contributing to a global warming trend that means less pow, and more slush.
So what’s a responsible skier to do? Yes, everything we do to enjoy the outdoors has an impact—even ski-touring has a carbon footprint—but that’s not a reason to throw up our hands. Making an educated decision about where you ski, just like what you drive, can have a powerful influence over the impact of your actions.
That’s because there are important choices to be made when it comes down to how to run a ski resort. Resorts are large, meaning the choices they make—good and bad—have a bigger environmental impact than those we each make individually. How they make snow, how they deal with waste, whether they serve on disposable dishware: when you serve thousands of people a day, these choices add up.
That’s why we’ve been so glad to see the steps that some of our favorite ski areas have begun to take to address their energy efficiency, water usage and carbon footprint. As part of our Winter Stoke giveaway (sign up here to win one of two full-value prize packages, including lift tickets, Nau gear and more) we checked in with Mt. Hood Meadows and Stratton Mountain Resort to see what they’re doing to make their operations more sustainable.
Just up the road on Mt. Hood, our friends at Meadows are taking advantage of the abundant wind in Oregon and powering 100% of their operations with Wind Energy Credits. They’re also saving over a quarter million gallons of water each year with newly installed water-efficient appliances. And, true to Oregon’s strong locavore spirit, they’re sourcing local produce and serving it on china, not paper you throw away.
Across the country in Vermont, the folks at Stratton Mountain are also showing how investing in efficient infrastructure can save money and help the environment. They’ve installed 300 new high-efficiency snow guns, which—given how much snow they make each year—could save almost two million kilowatt-hours of electricity. Stratton was also the recipient of the Clif Bar/NSAA Sustainable Slopes Grant this spring, which they’re using to install four Big Belly Solar trash compactors, greatly reducing the the number of waste disposal trips required. They’ve also eliminated disposable dishware, a change they estimate will save roughly 75,000 soda cups, 61,000 spoons, 30,000 forks, 28,000 paper plates, 23,000 knives and 17,750 soup containers.
Of course, the ski areas have as much invested in a healthy planet as skiers do: saving energy is just good business. As skiers, we can help make it make even better business sense by choosing to enjoy those resorts who take seriously their responsibility to be good environmental stewards.
So educate yourself on the efforts your local hill is taking; it’s a step toward positive change, and toward ensuring that there will be snow for future generations.
Like what you’ve heard? Sign up here for our Winter Stoke Giveaway to win lodging for three nights, one dinner, rentals and lift tickets for two at Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont or two 10-time passes at Mt. Hood Meadows in Oregon. Each winner will also get a Nau winter jacket, pants, down top and insulation layer.