THE BIGGER PICTURE
If you haven’t heard about the effect that climate change is having on our glorious planet Earth then listen up, the signs are all around you and the planet needs your help!
In many ways the snowsports industry has gone from strength to strength since it began with improved technology and accessibility, however it’s impossible to ignore the changing climate when many resorts across Europe haven’t seen a full season of snow since the 80s.
If the world continues business as usual it’s predicted that by 2100, the overall snow cover in the Alps will decline by 70% and there will be almost no snow below 1,200 meters (the average height for ski resorts).
Even though that may seem like a long way off, some of the lower alpine resorts have already been forced to close because of such poor conditions.
In an attempt to manage the threat of climate change, 175 countries around the world joined the Paris Agreement back in 2016. Since 2019 the number of states who have signed has risen to 196. The central aim of the agreement is to keep global warming well below 2°C while also pursuing any other opportunities which could limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C.
We can’t escape the fact that snow cover will recede over the coming decades but as climate change is outrunning our technical abilities to adapt, slowing (and stopping) global warming is the first port of call.
If we can keep global warming to below 2°C as planned, then the loss of snow cover could be kept to 30% instead of that hideous 70% we just mentioned. Even at 30% there will still be a noticeable difference in snow cover, so to help mitigate the risk of balding mountains, ski resorts around the world have already started making their own snow as an interim solution. However, there are still major concerns from conservation groups like CIPRA (the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps) who have fiercely criticised snowmaking for its high energy consumption and the disruption it causes to local ecosystems.
To counteract this, a project named ProSnow believe snowfarming is here to stay, we just need to be smarter about when we use it. Their aim is to optimise the production of snow by giving resort managers detailed forecasts and predictions, so they know when to make snow, then when there’s enough of the natural stuff, when to stop.
THE ACTION PLAN
As a company we have taken a huge number of students to the slopes during our 25 years and we take full responsibility for minimising the impact those numbers have on each resort. So what are we doing to help and what can you do to contribute?
Wasteland Ski are proud to be an official partner of Protect Our Winters. The decision to sponsor this worthwhile cause was an obvious one and through their vetted partners we are giving our clients the chance to carbon offset their trip. The opportunity to donate to Protect Our Winters will be added to all groups booking pages, so the process is as easy as possible.
We have some general guidelines to help reduce your carbon footprint on a daily basis which our friends over at Protect our Winters strongly advise:
• Measure with the aim to reduce your carbon footprint 20% each year.
• Eat less red meat.
• Take public transportation whenever possible.
• Reduce your energy consumption at home: use energy-smart appliances, change to energy-saving light bulbs, take shorter showers.
• The single best thing we can do for the planet as individual consumers is to keep our stuff in use longer – repair, repair, repair!
Next up we have some rules which you can abide by while in resort. They may seem small, but they really do add up — power in numbers and all that.
• Opt to offset your carbon footprint when you book your trip through us.
• If you smoke, invest in a pocket ashtray; if you don’t, call people out when you see them throwing cigarette butts off the lift (this counts as litter).
• Get a flask so you’re not buying products using single-use plastic.
• Take your rubbish off the mountain with you.
• Return your lift pass (as a rule, they’re recyclable).
• Use the recycling bins in town.
• Bring your own shopping bags to resort.
• Use eco-friendly ski/board wax — anything that goes on your skis will be left behind on the mountains and trickle down into the lakes and surrounding ecosystems.
Finally, research is key. If keeping your impact on the environment to a minimum is high on your priority list, make sure you research your top resorts to find out what they’re doing.
We would like to highly commend Avoriaz in particular, and here’s why:
• The resort was designed to be fully pedestrianised and has been since it opened. Instead of cars there are horse-drawn carts offering lifts, adorable and eco-friendly!
• It was the first ski resort to design accommodation with features such as exterior insulation, snow-bearing insulating roofs and balcony construction with thermal breaks.
• They constructed a dual-energy central heating plant which provides eleven holiday residences and the Aquariaz (swimming pool & health centre) with heating and hot water.
• They take action to reduce, sort and process waste.
• They focus on ecological management of water resources and optimisation of the snow production.
• They take special care for fauna and flora’s protection.
• It is home to The Stash — Europe’s top ecological snowpark.
So, there you have it. If we all do our bit to help protect our beloved mountains, and the environment in general, it makes our time on the slopes that bit sweeter. Take action where you can, research and be an advocate as much as possible. We all need winter!