Friday, October 5, 2012

A Ski Bum’s Guide to Sustainable Living

Written by: Elliot Dale, Sustainable Building Associate
                                          M.S. Construction Management
As the climate continues to warm and dry, today’s ski bum is on the front line to keep snow in the mountains!  Their very existence depends on it!  Take heart that the ski bum will do whatever’s necessary to see another blue-bird powder day.  Most ski bums already have green tenancies:  they spend most of their free time in the forest, they drink PBR out of cans (recyclable), and many can knit their own beanies.  With a few subtle tweaks, a fairly climate-sensible ski bum can be turned into a lean, mean, sustainable living champion!  Below are a few recommendations to get the ski bum back on the sustainable straight and narrow:

Ditch the car and walk or take the town shuttle: even though your steez factor may take a ding, you know that driving your 1984 Vanagon up to the mountain isn’t doing the environment any good.  Mountain towns are small and don’t require a vehicle.  Choose housing within walking or biking distance to work, the mountain shuttle, the bar… and that’s about everywhere you’ll need to go!  Let’s face it, the town shuttle’s free, and you could really use that saved gas money on an extra breakfast burrito at the lodge.

Support local business through local purchasing: plenty of dining and retail options exist in most mountain towns.  Make an effort to seek out those establishments that are owned and operated by your neighbors.  You’ll help keep money in the local economy, your purchases will travel a shorter distance (thus greatly reducing their carbon footprint), and in the event that you find yourself owning one of those businesses in the future, the favor might get returned to you by the next generation of ski bums!

Buy used ski gear: while many of you are (or wish you were) sponsored and/or get a great pro-deal, consider buying used ski gear.   By doing so, you will drastically reduce the economic and environmental costs of new material extraction, manufacturing, and transportation, all while keeping the goods out of the landfill.  And depending on how retro the used gear is, you may be able to bump that steez level back up a few notches (see the first recommendation)!

For the ultimate sustainability ski bum, go back to the basics and get in the backcountry.  Backcountry skiing creates way fewer greenhouse gas emissions, it’s a nice little workout, you get away from the crowds at the resort, and there are unlimited powder turns for all!  Remember to be safe, educated, and always travel with a partner!

Have fun, and see ya on the slopes!