In case you missed it, Earth Day was April 22.
The folks who started Earth Day weren’t dumb. They slated it for springtime, when plants are emerging and the earth is turning green. After all, it’s easier to think about saving the planet when everything around us is coming to life.
But the principles behind Earth Day apply to more than a single season – and taking care of the planet is just as important when the world is shrouded in white. With global warming threatening to eliminate winter — and to take our favorite sport with it — environmental consciousness is something that we skiers need to get behind.
And not only because of skiing. Snow and ice are critical habitats for a wide range of animals. They provide a substantial amount of the planet’s drinking water. And polar ice melt could sink islands and flood coastlines.
How can we help? I’m sure you’ve heard the same thing over and over again: we need to reduce our carbon footprint. But that’s not easy, especially since snowmaking, ski lifts,and just getting to and from the slopes require huge amounts of energy. So what are we supposed to do?
Glad you asked. I have a few ideas right here:
* Carpool. Or use public transit to get to your favorite ski areas. It’s amazing how foreign this simple idea is to many people, although now that gas prices are up it might take on more and more obvious appeal. Seriously, though. Buddy up, people. It’ll help the planet. It’ll save you money. And it’ll make your trip easier, too.
• Support resorts that use renewable energy resources. According to Patrick Thorne, editor of the Green Ski Resort Guide, 60% of the world’s leading 250 ski resorts get at least some of their power from wind, solar, or water (hydro). Vail, for example, is the second largest purchaser of renewable energy in North America. And Jiminy Peak (in Massachusetts) even has a wind turbine on site. An interesting one to watch: Mountain Riders Alliance. This organization (I blogged about them here), has the stated goal of developing values-based, environmentally-friendly, rider-centric mountain playgrounds that have a positive impact in the local community.
• Buy from green companies. Another thing I’ve discussed before (go here). In brief, there are a growing number of gear companies that produce outstanding skis and apparel from recycled material. Many also support 1% For The Planet, giving at least one percent of their sales to environmental groups around the world. And some are involved in the Conservation Alliance, a consortium of outdoor industry companies that disburses its collective annual membership dues to community-based campaigns to protect threatened wild habitats. Founded in 1989 by REI, Patagonia, The North Face, and Kelty, the Alliance has more than 180 member companies, and has contributed more than $9.5 million to conservation projects throughout North America.
• Support environmental causes like the Save Our Snow Foundation. Started by freeskier champion Alison Gannett, Save Our Snow seeks to demonstrate that solutions to climate change can be cost-effective, can increase profitability while reducing pollution, and can increase energy security and green sector jobs — all while saving our snowpack and our planet’s ecosystems. Another good one: Protect Our Winters, which was founded by pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones, after witnessing first-hand the impact of climate change on our mountains.
Of course, there’s a lot we can do in our daily lives, too. Turn off lights when not in use. Use energy saver appliances. Walk or bike when you can. Recycle. Use re-usable shopping bags. Plant trees. You know the drill.
After all, for skiers, every day should be Earth Day. Celebrate today.