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Environmental Impact and Sustainability

Make A Difference When You Travel

You may think, "What recreation could be more environmentally friendly than winter sports? All I leave behind are my tracks in the snow."

It is true that the spectacular mountain terrain and unspoiled natural surroundings are major attractions of winter snow sports.

In fact, winter sports and recreational tourism have very significant negative environmental and cultural impacts.

At SkiEurope, we are concerned about these issues. We offer the following information to inform you, to suggest how to minimize your impact, and to let you know what we are doing.

  1. Environment Impact of Snow Sports
  2. Before You Go
  3. During Your Stay
  4. Shopping
  5. At Your Lodging
  6. On The Slopes
  7. After You Return
  8. At SkiEurope

Environment Impact of Snow Sports

  • In fact, winter sports and recreational tourism have very significant negative environmental and cultural impacts. All these things disturb the natural environment.

  • Most downhill skiing takes place on prepared slopes. This involves removing trees and grading the land into suitable runs. In addition, pylons and structures for ski lifts must be installed.

  • Due to global warming, snow has become less reliable at lower altitudes and the use of artificial snowmaking has increased. Snowmaking is a water- and energy-intensive process. In some cases, chemicals are added to ensure the formation of snow crystals.

  • Similarly, global warming is forcing ski areas to use higher altitudes that are more ecologically sensitive, even glacier areas which are receding due to warming.

  • Litter carelessly tossed from lifts or dropped on ski runs does not readily degrade. It takes five years for a cigarette butt to disintegrate.

  • Wildlife is disturbed by the initial construction and nightly maintenance of ski trails, and by the daytime skier population.

  • Ski resort tourism does create a significant amount of seasonal employment. However, much of this employment is in the form of low-skilled low-paying jobs that exceed the size of the local workforce. As a result, there is an influx of outside workers with the attendant challenges to housing and social support.

  • The cultural landscape of mountain villages is changed by absentee ownership and part-time occupation of local properties and by a large number of tourists.

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What You Can Do: You Can Make a Big Difference Just by Doing a Few Small Things.

Before You Go

  • Learn about ski destinations and their efforts to reduce effects on the environment. Find out if they adhere to the National Ski Areas Association Sustainable Slopes Environment Charter (in North America) or are ISO 14001 accredited (Europe).

  • Much of the enjoyment of travel is in the planning. Educate yourself about the destination by studying the places and the local people through travel articles and guidebooks.

  • Consider learning the basics of the local language: this will enrich your experience and be very welcomed by the locals. It may also help you understand what you can do to minimize your impact on the local environment.

  • Plan to travel by train or bus. It is convenient and reduces emissions. Most destination ski resorts do not require private transport within the area..

  • Consider cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing. They do not require graded slopes and ski lifts, and have lower environmental impact. Avoid heli-skiing and snowmobiling.

  • Recycle travel brochures and collateral material printed from the Internet.

  • When packing your suitcase, recycle or dispose of unnecessary packaging from clothing and toiletries to avoid leaving waste in the destination you are visiting.

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During Your Stay

  • Respect local traditions and customs. Ensure that your clothing and behavior is appropriate.

  • Ask if you can photograph the local people, as some cultures do not favor that.

  • Inform other travelers who are less knowledgeable about local traditions and customs. Act as an example.

  • Be careful about displaying wealth in front of people from less-affluent countries.

  • Be open to different ways of thinking, living and working. It is all part of your vacation experience.

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  • Contribute to the local economy by using local transportation, guides, lodging, restaurants and stores.

  • Rather than mass-produced souvenirs, buy locally made products. Treat yourself to local food and drink. It enhances your experience, gains you respect, and benefits the local economy.

  • Comply with international environmental regulations. about importing certain materials and products.

  • Do not purchase any animal or plant products while traveling especially if they belong to endangered species.

  • Do not remove any objects, plants or animal products from nature.

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At Your Lodging

  • Conserve water at your hotel by re-using linens and towels or changing them only when necessary.

  • Conserve energy at your lodging by turning off the lights when leaving your room and keeping the heating or air conditioning to a minimum level.

  • Reduce and recycle waste produced during your travel or skiing. Buy products in bulk to avoid unnecessary packaging and purchase recycled products when available.

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On The Slopes

  • Follow the "Leave No Trace" principles of outdoor ethics at ski areas.

  • Dispose of your own waste properly. Never throw anything from a lift.

  • If you see litter left on slopes by other skiers or snowboarders, pick it up and dispose of it.

  • Re-use trail maps instead of getting new ones every time you go skiing.

  • Observe ski area boundaries and area closures. These are not only for your safety, but for the well-being of plants and animals in sensitive situations.

  • Be quiet; let nature's sounds prevail.

  • Respect other guests and protect the quality of their experience as well as your own

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After You Return

  • Continue your commitment to the protection and preservation of the environment in your everyday life by acting responsibly and supporting groups or organizations that are environmental-friendly.

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At SkiEurope

SkiEurope aims to be a leader among recreational travel providers through managing our business in a way that demonstrates our commitment to environmental protection while meeting the expectations of our guests.

  • SkiEurope is a member of the National Ski Areas Association and supports their Sustainable Slopes environmental initiative for ski areas. (See:

  • SkiEurope endeavors to re-use and recycle our office supplies.

  • SkiEurope has never printed an annual catalog with a large print run.

  • In order to remove the need for printed brochures, SkiEurope has developed a website that has comprehensive information about every major ski area in North America and Europe.

  • SkiEurope is active in a movement to convince national and local tourist authorities to minimize the negative impact of extensive distribution of printed materials by substituting online information.

  • Useful links:
    Green Resort Guide: a list that provides information about the eco-friendliness of ski resorts.(Provided by the Ski Club of GB)

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