Chemmy's Quest: Winter Holidays and Sustainability
Can skiing and sustainability go hand in hand? Chemmy Alcott went to Austria to check out initiatives aiming to make winter holidays more eco-friendly.
Clear mountain air, impressive panoramas, winter sports with passion - winter and skiing holidays in Austria's Alps are legendary. To keep it that way, a lot is changing right now to make winter holidays more sustainable.
If you want to experience nature up close, there is a lot you can do to contribute towards sustainability and climate protection. Here are some tips:
Mountain panorama from above. The cable cars are the convenient ticket to Austria's mountain world. This is true for hikers in summer and for ski fans in winter. Only few people know, however, that mountain railways are also among the most energy-efficient transport systems!
For years, Austria has been working on optimising their energy consumption: Most mountain railways now run on electricity almost exclusively from renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic, wind turbines and hydropower. Sustainabilty projects are being implemented on an ongoing basis, including snowmaking systems that double as hydroelectric power plants or pumped storage power plants.
When travelling to your ski destination by train, the following questions will naturally pop up:
The Austrian answer is by shuttle bus, hotel-run transfers, local public transport, and electric car.
Many larger ski resorts aim to reduce individual transport by offering an extensive public transport network. In most cases, free use of ski buses is included in the ski pass.
Your hosts will happily inform you about all the option to move around within the ski resort with minimum carbon footprint.
You chose the sustainable ski resort, booked the climate-neutral hotel and your train tickets for the journey? If you plan your winter holiday with a sustainable mindset, be as consistent when it comes to ski equipment and ask yourself:
1. Do I really need new equipment? Sustainability means to use the existing stuff until it loses function or is no longer safe.
2. What is there to consider when buying new? Buy from manufacturers with high eco-standards: climate-friendly, recyclable materials, cooperation with environmental organisations, transparency and fair conditions in the manufacturing process.
3 What are the advantages of renting? Renting ski equipment saves production resources, guarantees the most modern, best-maintained seasonal models and makes your luggage lighter.
While some enjoy skiing with passion and the occasional thrill, others hibernate or seek retreat (think native flora and wildlife). As an environmentally conscious winter sports enthusiast, be considerate when moving into the habitat of deer, foxes and snow hares.
Sustainable winter holidays mean ...
Austria's Alpine cuisine is known for its refined as being sown-to-earth, with traditional and modern influences. For many chefs, using regional and seasonal products goes hand in hand with top-notch quality. The culinary world combines all the important factors of sustainability: Climate protection, environmental awareness and the well-being of wildlife - everyone benefits from organic farming. If you would like to pay attention to your personal CO₂ footprint during your winter holiday, we suggest to opt for restaurants, hotels and mountain huts who value the regional, seasonal and organic approach.