Eco-friendly Ski Holidays: Environmentally-friendly Holidays in the Snow

17/10/2023 - SnowTrex

In times of climate change, many winter sports fans are concerned about eco-friendly ski holidays – but what should you pay attention to? SnowTrex has a few tips and tricks to help make a ski holiday environmentally-friendly and sustainable.

Off to an environmentally-friendly ski holiday!

Eco-friendly destination

Where does one travel to spend an environmentally-friendly ski holiday? This is a question that winter lovers in particular are concerned with, who already attach importance to sustainability and environmental protection in their everyday lives and do not want to do without it during their holidays. For this reason, and because many ski areas also want to fight climate change on their own initiative, measures such as stopping the expansion of pistes and lifts or the exclusive use of green electricity for lifts and snow cannons are becoming increasingly popular. Other measures that are increasingly being implemented in ski areas and regions include “snow farming”, the reduction or abandonment of artificial snow and thus snow cannons, and also the restructuring into car-free ski resorts.

Berchtesgadener Land: dreamy scenery with lake and mountains.

In order not to categorically exclude any ski area that does not implement all of these measures when booking a winter trip, winter fans should follow the tip of always looking for the optimal ski area for themselves and their fellow travellers. For example, if you are travelling with your family or are still a beginner, a small or medium-sized ski area that does not focus on the development of new pistes, such as the Region Berchtesgarden ski area, may be sufficient.

If you do want a larger ski area, you can choose a ski area like the Arosa Lenzerheide ski area or the Tignes-Val d’Isère ski area. These are large, with 225 and 300 kilometres of pistes respectively, but they do not snow more than 60% of their pistes, which saves energy and water.

The Arosa Lenzerheide ski area offers winter holidaymakers 225 kilometres of pistes, of which only 60 percent are actively covered by snow cannons for environmental reasons.

Eco-friendly ski accommodation

The type of ski accommodation also plays a decisive role in an environmentally-friendly ski holiday. For this reason, more and more accommodations are focusing on sustainability and are trying to become more environmentally-friendly with a wide variety of measures, such as switching to a sustainable electricity producer. Using only local, organic food, for example, can also reduce CO2 emissions during transport and support the regional economy.

Cosy winter breakfast at an eco-hotel.

“Eco-accommodations” are therefore perfect for combining a sustainable lifestyle with a relaxing holiday. Snow fans can usually recognise them by a certificate or seal that points to energy and water savings, resource conservation and/or waste avoidance. There are several of these, such as the German Viabono certificate, the Steinbock label from Switzerland or the Austrian Eco-label, which make it easy to pay attention to sustainability when choosing accommodation.

We have already picked out our best eco-accommodations for you!

Eco-friendly journey

As soon as winter fans have decided on a place, it’s time to plan the journey, and here, too, are many aspects that can make a ski holiday more sustainable if they are taken into account. On the often long journeys to and from the resort by car, a lot of CO2 is emitted, which is known to do more harm than good to the environment. Nevertheless, for most people, it remains the most practical means of transport to reach distant destinations.

On a ski holiday with a fully-occupied car.

To keep the damage as low as possible, there are helpful tips and tricks. For example, holidaymakers can always try to travel with a fully-occupied car while at the same time making sure they only pack what is really needed. Travelling at times when nerve-racking, fuel-guzzling traffic jams are less likely, as well as doing without roof boxes and the like, are also measures that help keep CO2 emissions as low as possible.

Those who decide to travel by train have already chosen the most sustainable option. There are also many other benefits for winter holidaymakers who travel by train: for example, there is no need to search for a parking space in resort and no need to install snow chains in the higher regions of the Alps. It is also important to know that you can now sometimes travel directly to the ski resort by train and then take the accommodation’s own shuttle or a public bus to get directly to the accommodation.

Eco-friendly ski holiday: travel to the mountains by train.

The really tough winter sports fans who can stand being away from the pistes a little longer can perhaps also imagine visiting the Alps only once or twice instead of several times each winter, thus saving themselves some stressful and environmentally-damaging journeys to and from the Alps. To compensate for the “lost” ski days, you can then stay a few days longer in resort to fully recharge your skiing batteries.

Eco-friendly behaviour on the piste

Paying attention to one’s surroundings, and to nature in particular, is a measure that many people already implement in their everyday lives, and should also come quite easily to most ski fans. Making sure that your jacket and trouser pockets are closed on snow-covered hills as well as taking another look behind you after small breathers to make sure you haven’t unintentionally lost something in the snowy landscape is a breeze and already second nature to most winter sports fans. Being careful to ski on the pistes and avoid off-piste skiing also helps to not only protect wildlife from stress, but also yourself, other skiers and nature from snow avalanches, for example.

If you want to protect nature, you should not ski off-piste.

Sustainable ski clothing and equipment

Ski clothing has to meet many demands. They should keep you warm, be water- and snow-repellent and usually also look good. At the same time, they should neither break quickly nor be expensive. In order to be able to count on all these requirements for their ski clothing, skiers should already pay attention to the quality of the outdoor clothing when buying it. If you also want to protect the environment, you can choose a manufacturer that produces its clothing sustainably, such as from recycled or environmentally-friendly materials, for example, or uses sustainable electricity in the production process. Labels and certificates such as those of the Fair Wear Foundation, the bluesign seal, the addition “PFC-free” and many other indications that identify environmentally and socially responsible products can be helpful. If something should break in the course of time, you don’t have to buy a new one. Often, a needle and thread are enough to mend many things.

Ski clothing should be used often and for a long time.

Giving away old ski clothes also contributes to more sustainable skiing. Children in particular can only wear their ski clothes for one to two years until they have outgrown them again, so it makes sense to pass the clothes on to younger siblings, relatives or friends after this time who can then continue to enjoy them.

When buying their own ski equipment, there are also some aspects that winter sports fans can consider in order to make skiing more sustainable: before buying their own equipment, skiers and snowboarders should always consider whether it is worth owning all the equipment or whether it is sufficient to simply rent it locally. For winter sports fans who only hit the slopes once a year in particular, sharing the necessary equipment with other winter sports fans can have many advantages, both in terms of transport and costs, for example. In addition, one’s own ski equipment also gets older as time goes on, which isn’t a problem if you rent your ski equipment.

You can also go green when buying equipment.

If it does have to be your own equipment, skiers and snowboarders should make sure when buying that it has been produced under fair conditions and without toxic chemicals. In the meantime, there are also ski and snowboard manufacturers such as Dynafit, Nordica, Nitro and Burton who are placing more and more emphasis on the sustainable production of their products. When caring for skis and snowboards, you can also make sure that petroleum-free wax products or organic waxes are used.

Even after a long time, when the sun has set for your own equipment, there are various ways to let them live on or to give them a new purpose.

FAQ on eco-friendly ski holidays

What is an eco-holiday?

Eco-ski-holidays differ from normal ski holidays in that there is a conscious focus on the environment. During the trip, efforts are made to ensure that the natural balance is affected as little as possible. The choice of accommodation is usually the most important aspect of eco-ski-holidays, as this is the best place to focus on sustainable behaviour.

How can I recognise environmentally-friendly ski areas?

In general, there is no certificate or seal that marks climate-friendly ski areas. However, ski areas often provide information on their websites about the climate protection measures they have implemented. In addition, there are also cooperations between ski areas, such as the “Alpine Pearls”, in which the participating ski areas jointly commit to gentle and climate-friendly tourism with various measures.

Does sustainable skiwear always have to be new?

“No!” is the simple answer here. As clothing, especially ski clothing, should be worn as long and often as possible, it is even better for the environment to buy it second-hand. You can easily find them at flea markets or online shops that resell clothes in various conditions at a reasonable price.

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