November 11, 2008

Eco Winter Sports: A guide to greening your winter wonderland activities

My excitement for snow fun increases more and more by every degree the temperature drops.  I have been a snowboarder for years, and I can’t wait to hit the slopes, but it wasn’t until recently that I started to realize the impact my day up to the mountains had on the environment.  Driving from Boulder to the mountains is an easy getaway, but that 400 miles round trip drive, as well as the snow making and energy used by the mountain resorts have a bigger impact than one would think.

Here are some tips to green your weekend getaways in the mountains:

First, it is important to look into your resort choice as well as your snow gear.  You can research a resort that runs all their operations on wind energy.  And check out snowboards and skis designed with sustainable materials.

Lodging: A typical mountain resort uses high amounts of energy and resources to fuel all the operations that run the beautiful vacation spot.  Energy and water sucking components of mountain resorts include; ski lifts, gondolas, heating, hot tubs, machine made snow, and shuttles to carry the guests from one place to another are all processes that hurt the environment.  Luckily, there are ecologically responsible resorts out there.

* Aspen/Snowmass resorts in Colorado have their own mini hydroelectric power plant, use solar panels to power ski stations, purchase wind power to offset their energy consumption, incorporate green building techniques in the resorts, and have converted their snowcats to biodiesel.

* Vail Resorts also in Colorado purchase 152,000 megawatt hours of wind energy annually to replace all the power used by the mountain resorts, and also rewards those who sign up for a year of wind energy for their home with a free lift ticket!

*Utah’s Alta shows their green with an eco mountainside restaurant.

* Jackson Hole, Wyoming went green with two wind powered chairlifts.

* California’s Mammoth Mountain runs all their vehicles on biodiesel and uses geothermal heat in their buildings.

For more check out The GREEN ROOM for green lodging advice and places.

When choosing your attire, first look in your parents’ closet.  I raided my mom’s closet a couple years back and found some of the most stylish vintage down jackets, and snow jumpers!  Look for either recycled clothes or ones made with eco fabrics.

For your snowboard or skis, as I mentioned before, look for ones that contain sustainable materials and use veg-based waxes to slick those suckers up. Veg-based waxes such as Purl Wax, Biogreen Soy Waxes from One Ball Jay, and soy-based Bluebird Waves are more better for the environment than petroleum-derived waxes.

Also, carpooling up to the mountains saves lots of energy, or hop on a bus that will take you up to the mountains, many of which are fueled by biodiesel.

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Lindsey Block  |  Contribution: 53,315