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A Mini Guide to Eco-friendly Winter Sports

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This blog was originally published on August 19, 2021 and was most recently updated on January 31, 2022. 

This winter season, enjoy the slopes and make sure your actions make snow sports sustainable in the long term. Year after year, devout snow athletes have noticed changes in the environment they practice in and the access and range of snow sports products. While the weather is increasingly erratic, there are added efforts to combat climate change with sustainable product offerings.

“In Colorado, winter recreation, largely around downhill skiing and snowboarding, supports some 43,000 jobs — more than in any other state.”

Protect Our Winters, The Economics Contributions of Winter Sports in a Changing Climate (pg. 13) Febriary 2018

Here at EarthHero, we do our best to support the planet in the ways we know. One of them is by educating ourselves and our customers on how to live more eco-friendly and low waste lives. As a Colorado-based company, it’s important that we learn how to be better snow athletes. Thus, here’s our guide to crafting an eco-friendly winter sports practice this season (and many seasons after)!

Sustainable Materials and Gear

Long-lasting Gear

When it comes to snow sports-related clothing and accessories, any skier or snowboarder can tell you the costs add up. And while you can save up and get yourself some beautiful eco-friendly gear, we recommend first and foremost auditing your athleticism. Consider how often you practice, when you practice, and whether you plan on changing these habits in the near future. If you tend to hit the slopes every once in a while each season, it might not be bad practice to simply rent your gear. An alternative could be borrowing from a friend, although, if you do that often, maybe bake them a cake to thank them.

If you do prefer to have your own jacket, gaiter, etc. we have some recommendations. At EarthHero, we’re constantly welcoming new brands and products onto our marketplace. And now with over 200 brands and thousands of products to choose from, we’re only growing. Some of our favorite winter sports brands include United By Blue and Phunksun.

Stay up to date with what’s new in the world of snow sports products here.

Consider Your Wax

Imagine enjoying a bitterly cold day, skis in hand waiting for your time to shine. The last thing you want is chapped skin getting in the way. We’ve got you covered. While a lot of ski wax is made with petroleum or “forever chemicals” that threaten the environment and our bodies, mountainFLOW’s alternative does not. Instead, their Ski Skin Wax is made with the planet (and your health) in mind. Easily rub on when and wherever needed to prevent skin icing. Be sure to also keep your hands protected with some sturdy gloves too!

“The popularity of internet searches for sustainable goods around the world has increased by 71% in just five years.”

World Wildlife Fund, An Eco-Awakening: Measuring Global Awareness, Engagement, and Action for Nature (pg. 6), 2021

Why We Love Phunkshun

We love showcasing Phunkshun Wear because they use recycled water bottles and Anti-Freeze technology to prevent overheating and chapped skin. Plus, they’re based in Colorado, just like us! Moreover, since their neck tubes block 99% of UV light, they’re perfect for any snow sport, day hiking, or any outdoor activity where you’re likely to get some sun. This line of neck gaiters also gives back! Each purchase donates a portion of the proceeds to the High Five Foundation which gives resources to mountain athletes who’ve suffered life-long injuries.

Don’t forget to do your research, especially when it comes to additional gear like a snowboard, goggles, and snow pants! Keep an eye out for PFC-free and DWR coating or organic wool for added insulation in clothing. And for snowboards or skis, check out bamboo alternatives, or those made with FSC-certified wood or recycled metals.

Flight and Travel Offsets

Carbon Offsetting

Whenever we travel, whether by car, plane, or ferry, we’re contributing to carbon emissions which negatively affect the environment and contribute to climate change. So, carbon offsetting is a great way to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions directly related to your travel impact. You do this by purchasing carbon credits that correspond to your emissions which then get invested in carbon-reducing initiatives.

“Tourism is responsible for about 8% of the world’s carbon emissions.”

Lenzen, M., Sun, YY., Faturay, F. et al. The carbon footprint of global tourism. 522–528 (2018).

We recommend Climate Care to offset your flight emissions because it’s easy to use and trustworthy! Plus, they’ve helped reduce 51 million tCO2e (tons of carbon dioxide emissions) since 1997! Not only can you offset your emissions on your flights and lodging, but you can also offset daily emissions. You also get to choose which projects you want to support or else choose “quick emissions” where you pick either the number of tCO2e you wish to offset or the amount of money you want to contribute.

In our example above, a flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Boulder (BLD) equated to about 0.2 tCO2e or around 2.41 USD – cheaper than coffee!

Give Back

Another great way to support the incredible work already being done to mitigate the effects of climate change is by donating to organizations making great strides. One option is to donate to Protect Our Winters, which not only prioritizes climate action education on their website but also engages in political activism to support Earth-friendly legislation around the world.

A Greener Stay

Ready-to-go Packing

One piece of advice that holds true for any situation where you’re trying to lower your environmental footprint is being prepared. When looking to plan a sustainable winter sports vacation, whether skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, or otherwise, here’s a short packing list that can help.

  • You can never go wrong with a reusable water bottle that will be easy to use when on the slopes or donning a pair of heavy-duty gloves. One we love is the TKWide Insulated Water Bottle from Klean Kanteen. Not only is it 64oz (that’s 8 cups!), but it’s double-walled and has a leak-proof loop cap for all adventures.
  • Bring some cutlery and reusable lunch boxes or tins. You can use them when going down for breakfast in the morning and bringing back leftovers after dinner.
  • Don’t forget the importance of yummy snacks so you’re not buying plastic-wrapped bananas and muffins. One way to prepare is to head to your nearby bulk bin and stock up on some dried fruit, nuts, and candy so you can be ready with some road trip (or airplane) snacks.

Staying at a Green Resort

Whether you’re staying at a friend’s place, renting out an Airbnb, or staying at a green resort, we have some suggestions for making your trip a sustainable one. Consider taking shorter showers at the end of the day. You’re likely to get sweaty and want to shower often but think about how long you actually need the hot water running. Also, be sure to get some good rest every night so you’re alert and having a good time, and so you can be out and about early on. Finally, remember to turn your heater off when you leave your room and to turn off all the lights.

While not available everywhere, green ski resorts are on the rise. Pioneered by the National Ski Areas Association in 2000, the Sustainable Slopes program outlines environmental standards for ski resorts and supports greenhouse gas emission reduction. Since then, plenty of ski resorts have worked to improve their carbon footprint by diverting food waste, using LED lighting, or using waterproof maps and signage.

In Colorado, we love Aspen Snowmass which invests in alternative energy sourcing by using waste methane from the Elk Creek Coal Mine to generate electricity. Plus, their Give a Flake campaign from 2018 to 2020 promoted resort-wide activism by encouraging letter writing and climate activism education. They’re also big on composting, supporting local growers, and promoting solar power installation in Colorado schools. Wow!

We hope our “mini” guide was helpful for preparing for this winter season. Check out our Ski and Snowboard product category for any new sustainable products we bring along. Have fun and enjoy your eco-friendly winter sport!

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