As soon as the first autumn leaves start falling down my family can’t stop thinking about winter getaways. My husband will look on the Internet for the first signs of snow in September to be sure we’re climbing mountaintops by January. For the sake of being complete, I feel compelled to add that I don’t like winter sports. No really, I see absolutely no point to it and it stresses me out in a way you cannot imagine. The fact that winter getaways have a quiet heavy carbon footprint only makes things worse. But anyway, stressed out or not, I go every year. Following in my hubby and family’s footsteps, trying to get something out of my skies sliding down the mountains of Switzerland or Austria, all the while feeling guilty for increasing my carbon emissions. So this year, even though I still collapsed under the family pressure, I’m putting everyone on an eco-friendly winter getaway diet.

My husband on his snowboard (own work)

Here are a couple of tips you could use to green your own winter getaway:

– If possible try to travel by bus or train instead of taking the car or traveling by plane. If you do take the car consider that a ski box on top of your vehicle will increase you gas usage and carbon emissions by 30%. I know it’s a touch one, but if you can try to get everything into the car and not on top of it. If taking the plane is the only way for you, you could consider offsetting your trip. Many companies are specialized in offsetting carbon emissions, including airline companies. For trips below 1.000 km (625 miles) you should really reconsider taking a plane. Take-off and landing are the most fuel consuming parts of a trip, so for such small distances your carbon emissions will be about 10 times higher than the same distance travelled by bus or train.

– When choosing your winter getaway holiday, consider avoiding skiing areas that use fake snow or snow guns. Snow guns cost a lot of energy and water and are everything but eco-friendly. If you’re concerned about greening your winter getaway definitely go for ski resorts that have plenty of snowfall and don’t rely on anything but the weather to guarantee you a good time.

– Go for a ski resort that provides easy access to the skiing facilities. There is nothing ecological about being in the mountains with a rental car and driving two hours everyday to reach the nearest ski lift.

– If you don’t own skiing equipment yet or if you’re ready to buy some new stuff, don’t. Instead rent what you need on location. Renting is less expensive than buying and is much better for the environment. And by avoiding to transport your equipment all the way up the mountain you’ll save on gas and carbon emissions too.

– Be critical about your skiing resort and make sure it cares about its residents and has a car-free city center. Although clean air is important everywhere, getting clean air up the mountain will assure you are not exposed to exhaust fumes while exercising. The car-free city center is just an added value; you won’t have to worry about your kids playing in the streets.

– After skiing hours or when planning off slope activities, try to avoid energy consuming pastimes. Snow and winter are perfect to let the kid come out in environmentally friendly ways. Built an igloo, go walking up the mountain, go ice-skating or go for a ride on a slow sledge. At the same time, try to avoid trips or adventures with motorized vehicles. They are loud, consuming energy and produce carbon emissions we really can do without.

– When it comes to food and drinks try to avoid anything that is plastic wrapped or that will produce a lot of waste material. If you are going up the mountain for a couple of hours, take your own water with you in a reusable drinking bottle (which you should own anyway). Needless to say that whatever you do, you should never leave anything behind. Keep your wrappings and your waste, take it back down with you and recycle it the best you can.

Just so you know, all these tips work for snowboarders too. Have fun!