We’re all very aware of the importance of changing our habits to become more eco-friendly. But have you ever thought about your ski holiday being sustainable? Although skiing and sustainability can seem like an oxymoron, there are actually some smart ways you can make your holiday more sustainable. You don’t need to cut out your holiday- you need to be smart and start making changes today.
Smart Swaps to Make Your Ski Holiday More Sustainable
The biggest factor to consider on your ski holiday is how you get to the slopes. Unfortunately for most Brits, reaching the high mountains means crossing a border or two. It’s a good idea to choose a resort that is closer to you. Choosing how you get to resort can make the biggest reduction on your carbon footprint.
Did you know you can take a train to the Alps?
The Eurostar is a great option for anyone looking to relax and wake up in the French Alps to the smell of fresh croissants. Taking the train is also a popular choice for families as its far more civilised and relaxed. There are now two direct trains each week, meaning it is easier than ever. The biggest bonus is that you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Oh, and skis and boards are free as well as your standard two-bag luggage allowance so you’re saving money all round. The adult return price for non-peak weeks is £160 – £190, and for peak weeks it ranges from £300-£400. The seats are comfy, you’ll see so much of Europe out of the window and you’ll feel at ease knowing your journey is more carbon efficient.
The trains travel from London to Moûtiers, Aime-la-Plagne, and Bourg-Saint-Maurice giving you easy access to a range of resorts (Val D’Isére, Tignes, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Courchevel, Meribel, St Martin, Val Thorens and more!) You can also take the Alpen Express to visit Austrian resorts like St Anton and Lech. The ski train is direct and leaves on Friday night or Saturday morning from St Pancreas, London. If you take the overnight train it allows you to have an extra day skiing! Here’s even more info on which resorts you can access by train.
We found this awesome website that has all the information you need to know about train times, prices and more. Did you know they are planning on having a ski and boot fitting service on the train? So once you arrive at your destination you’re ready to go! They’ll even help you escort your ski gear to your hotel.
If you prefer cruising down the European motorways then driving is an option for you. Cars nowadays are much more efficient which will help to reduce your carbon footprint. We understand electric cars are not accessible to all due to their hefty price tag. But if you do have an electric car- use it! There are plenty of electric hookups at service stations down the motorways.
Tip: In April, Google announced that Google Maps will now show real-time availability of electric vehicle charging stations across Europe. Charging stations include Tesla, Chargepoint, Chargemaster, and more to come. Open GoogleMaps, type into the search bar “Electric Vehicle Charging” and it will come up with a selection of your closest plug-in points.
Choose a “green” resort
Resorts across Europe are making a huge effort to become more eco-friendly. Avoriaz won the Environment Award for Ecological Developments at the 2012 World Snow Awards. “Flocon Vert” has been introduced as a new way of rating resorts, based on how sustainable they are. Flocon Vert, meaning green snowflake was created by the French environmental charity Mountain Riders. The ratings are based on their sustainability of snowmaking and the efficiency of lifts and buildings. This is a really positive step, so choose wisely when you’re deciding your next ski destination. Here is a list of some sustainable resorts in Europe.
St Anton is a fantastic example of a green resort because it has multiple links via public transport. The trains, buses, and roads are easy to navigate and run regular services. Oberlech, above Lech, is a car-free resort. “RespekTiere deine Grenzen” is the motto in the ski resort and translates to respect your borders. St Anton has a large variety of flora and fauna and by respecting the ski area boundaries you will be helping to protect the local wildlife & native plant life. There are, of course still areas marked on the map where you can ski off-piste and out of the flora and fauna zone. St Anton is also lucky to have a very new lift system which is very efficient and many of the lifts are run on solar power.
Lech-Zürs built a renewable energy biomass plant around 20 years ago that covers 80% of their energy needs and supplies 100 hotels, and over 200 homes. This saves 22,000 tons of CO2 that would have been emitted into the air. The plant also generates 65 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy to the resort. It feels like Lech really is one step ahead.
France’s only car-free resort and the proud winner of ‘The Most Innovative Resort For Sustainable Development’ in 2014.
La Plagne & Les Arcs
La Plagne and the Paradiski region is up to speed and very sustainable because it has been using 100% renewable energy to power its ski lifts since 2012. The resort is using renewable energy such as hydroelectricity, wind power, and solar power.
Serre Chevalier is the first ski resort to produce its own electricity combining different types of renewable energy. They produce hydroelectricity through the snow-making network and create power using micro-wind turbines.
Get ski gear that lasts
Buying a good quality ski jacket & salopettes is necessary for your ski holiday. We understand it can be more expensive but believe us- it’s worth it. It will make your ski holiday more sustainable if you only have to buy a jacket every couple of years as supposed to every ski trip. All of our instructors wear The North Face which we cannot recommend highly enough. If you don’t want to be matching with us then you can check out what else Ellis Brigham has on offer. Or if you need some guidance on what kind of ski clothing to buy we have lots of knowledge.
It’s essential for you to have a waterproof jacket when out on the slopes because believe it or not, some times it rains. Yep, it’s not a great day but it’s better to be dry and cozy then sodden and sulking. A ski brand that stands out for its efforts to be sustainable is Picture Organic. Their commitment to up-cycling plastic to make ski clothing is far beyond other companies. All of their technical products are made from a minimum of 50% recycled polyester from plastic bottles. They guarantee that the fabric does not contain harmful chemicals. Instead of replacing, they repair as often as possible and you can buy Picture clothing on the Ellis Brigham website.
Or, just repair what you’ve already got
If you have a broken zip or a little snag on your puffa jacket don’t just throw it out. Fix it! Your clothing should be built to last for a long time so give it the love it deserves. We love following along on Patagonia’s campaigns of Worn Wear. They travel around in a horse box or van fixing peoples kit for free in different resorts. And get this – it’s not only Patagonia clothing they repair. You can also buy repaired second-hand kit for a discounted price! So follow on along on their journey and look out for when they’re in a resort near you.
Other little habits to change:
One thing to remember is that changes, no matter how big or small, do make a big difference. If you’ve read this far, we can already tell you are looking for ways to make a difference and that is a fantastic mindset to be in. If you want to read more about how to make your ski holiday more sustainable you should take a look at the Protect Our Winters (POW) campaign which was started by pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones.
In order to keep our ski resorts pristine, be sure to put your litter in the bin, whether you’re on the street or on the mountain. If you’re a smoker, many resorts have targets under the chairlifts that you can aim your cigarette butts at. This is a fun way to keep them all in one place to not litter the mountain.
Another easy change to make is to use the bus shuttle around the resort. Most resorts will have a free service that runs regularly so its good to make the most of it! It’s a much more eco way of getting around, rather than getting taxis and company minibuses.