Ski holidays are traditionally not the most environmentally friendly pastime. Firstly, you’re likely flying to your destination – although driving, or even better travelling by train, are options that will keep your carbon footprint down. Then you’re repeatedly hauled up a mountain by lifts, that need tons of energy to power. This will weigh heavy on the mind of an eco-conscious skier or snowboarder, but fear not! There are eco-friendly ski resorts out there, where you can enjoy a guilt-free holiday.
Before we dive into things it’s worth noting that it’s in all skiers interest to be green. Ski seasons are shortening on average due to the climate crisis – warmer temperatures means less snow. While individual skiers changing their habits won’t solve climate change, as one high street supermarket slogan says: every little helps!
The most eco-friendly ski resorts in Europe
SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental, Austria
SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental proudly markets itself as one of the world’s most sustainable ski resorts. All of its 90 lifts are powered using solar energy. The resort actually generates so much power, that it sells the excess back to the grid. Also the snow cannons are fed from local reservoirs, filled with natural snowmelt water.
One of the biggest offenders on ski holidays is single-use plastics. Pejo, in Trentino, Italy, issued a blanket ban on them. Therefore there’s no plastic cutlery, cups or straws in any of this delightful small resort. Not even disposable ketchup and mayonnaise sachets survive the ban.
Avoriaz is a car-free resort. This eliminates short car journeys, which is vital for the environment. Avoriaz has other impressive eco-friendly credentials. Roofs are built to retain snow and provide buildings with natural insulation. The resort is powered by biofuel. Most excitingly, there’s an eco-friendly snow park The Stash, which is built from dead wood collected from local forests.
Zermatt is one of Switzerland’s most beloved resorts. Thousands of visitors flock there annually, and they’re greeted by a pollution-free town. Electric taxis are the only cars permitted, although we recommend travelling by horse drawn carriage. Another aspect of it eco-credentials is how it cares for the local wildlife. Marked no-go areas for humans, protect the populations of animals such as marmots and deer.
Finally, Zermatt is also a pro at recycling. When retiring an old gondola in the resort, a 23,500 foot cable was saved and repurposed to build 20 bridges in Myanmar and India.
Whistler Blackcomb, Canada
The bigger a ski resort, the more potential harm it can cause the environment. Whistler Blackcomb is one of the world’s largest, so it’s fortunate that the resort takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. The resort generates its own hydroelectric energy, in a creek between the two mountains. This powers the resort’s 37 lifts, 17 restaurants and 270 snow cannons.
On top of that, the entire mountain is smoke free, so cigarette butts aren’t allowed to litter the beautiful scenery. In case anyone breaks the rules – which people always do – then there’s the annual mountain clean up day in April, to remove waste that accumulates over the season.