Ten years ago, I was shocked to find out that snowboarding, my most beloved sport and passtime, together with skiing had the second biggest carbon footprint out of all non-motorized sports. Number one being golf, which I fortunately don’t play.
The size of the carbon footprint is a sum of many things; equipment, travel to destinations, massive amounts of water and electicity (used by resorts to make artificial snow), building of lifts and maintenance of pistes. The list goes on.
According to most research, the greenhouse effect will increase the global mean temperature, which will lead to shorter winters and less snow. Even more dramatic research shows how glaciers are melting away at a rapid rate. During the last century the Pyrenees have lost 90% of their glacier ice. So in other words the winter sports industry is digging its own grave. No snow, no sales.
Photo by Jani Kääriäinen http://www.hemmonkuvat.tk/
Snowboarders as consumers tend to be quite trend-oriented and even strong trend-setters. During the last decade most of us have become more aware of the dire environmental issues ahead and have started to pick up a ‘greener’ consumer behaviour. Snowboard companies have thus either actively or reactively taken more steps to produce more eco-friendly products. From weatherproof clothing containing 50% recycled materials to snowboards made from renewable and recycled materials.
The harder task in going ‘green’ might be for the resorts. Renewing this old and expensive industry will take a long time but the rewards may be big in many different ways. Consumers are already comparing and listing the most eco-friendly resorts and choosing their holiday destinations accordingly. Environmental laws are being written and passed at a rapid rate. This is leading to harder taxation and fines on resorts who don’t renew their processes (make them more carbon efficient) or do it too slow.
Still the biggest step must be taken by the consumers themselves. As this piechart confirms, nearly three quarters of carbon emissions are caused by travel to and from resorts. So instead of travelling far, one could visit resorts closer to home. Instead of flying, one could travel by train or bus.
My own choices so far have been to ride at my home resort of Talma, carpooling if possible. On longer holidays I’ve favoured Nordic resorts that are accessible by train or bus. Instead of bying new gear I have been busy repairing and mending the old. Further more I try to recycle my unused gear to friends and family. For gear that I don’t need that often, private renting is possible.
With the industry and consumers waking up to saving their livelyhood and passtime there might be a gree.., sorry, whiter future.