Is Skiing Bad for the Environment?

Skiing can be considered bad for the environment when you think about clear-cutting forests to make way for ski runs and the carbon footprint of everyone driving to the mountains. But many skiers and ski resorts try to be as little impact as possible. 

I’m Christine, the founder of this blog and a lifelong skier. I get out into the mountains as often as possible and always try to make environmentally conscious decisions. I’ve done some research to come up with the information you’ll read here. 

This post will explore if skiing is bad for the environment. I’ll provide you with some information to consider relating to both sides of this question. I’ll also show you how you can become a more environmentally-friendly skier. 

Let’s get to it. 

Key Takeaways

  • There are arguments on both sides of the question of whether skiing is bad for the environment. Skiing does have an impact on the environment, but it’s not always negative. 
  • Every skier should care about the environment because skiing wouldn’t be possible without taking advantage of the wonders of the natural world. 
  • You can do several things to be a more environmentally friendly skier, like carpooling to the mountains and reducing plastic use. 

Is Skiing Bad for the Environment? 

Skiing can be bad for the environment in some ways, but it’s not necessarily bad just to go skiing. There are many factors to consider when addressing this question, so let’s examine some of them here. 

Before diving in, I want to stress how important it is for all skiers to consider the environment when they ski but also during the rest of their daily lives. If we want skiing to continue to thrive for future generations, we need to take care of the earth. 

That said, skiing does have an impact on the environment. Most skiing happens in locations that have relatively delicate high alpine ecosystems. These locations can be altered by humans being there, but this is more of an issue during the summer when there isn’t snow. 

Ski resorts are also resource-intensive operations that alter the natural world where they exist. Forests are cut down to make way for ski runs, and fossil fuels are burned to run chairlifts – both of which obviously affect the environment. 

In addition to the impact ski resorts have on the environment, the presence of large numbers of humans on a mountain can alter how animals deal with living there. Some creatures might not be able to hibernate or migrate through the terrain where a ski resort exists. 

Snowmaking is another way that skiing can be bad for the environment. Making snow requires a lot of water, and when it’s not falling from the sky, this water must be taken from other sources. With water supplies dwindling in many popular skiing locations, it’s easy to see the effects here. 

Climate Change and Skiing

Climate change is already negatively affecting skiing, with warmer temperatures leading to less snow and a shorter winter in many locations worldwide. This is bad news for skiers, but they don’t directly cause it. 

Human behavior and industry over the last hundred years or so have led to climate change much more than the act of skiing itself. But the effects of climate change are easy to see with limited snowpack and warm temperatures during the winter. 

Sustainability and the Ski Industry

Many people in the ski industry realize that skiing affects the environment and are working hard to find new ways to improve this. Many ski resorts are now focused on becoming more sustainable, which is excellent news for the environment in the long run. 

Ski resorts are developing new technologies to avoid using fossil fuels to operate the chairlifts, and electric lifts are popping up in some locations. Most old lifts run on diesel fuel, so this is a welcome change. 

We all have a part to play regarding sustainability in the ski industry. And it starts with making informed decisions with your everyday actions. You can make small improvements each day that will have an effect in the long term. 

Carpooling to ski resorts or utilizing mass transit is a good start to reducing your carbon footprint for skiing. You can also pay attention to the ski brands you choose to support and only buy equipment from those with environmentally positive practices. 

If you really want to take things to another level, backcountry skiing is much more sustainable than resort skiing. By not supporting ski resorts, you can limit your involvement with the negative environmental effects of resorts

But this is a double-edged sword because if more people start backcountry skiing, there will be an increased impact on the wilderness areas where this type of skiing occurs.  

Final Thoughts

Some aspects of skiing are bad for the environment, and these are mostly related to how ski resorts function and operate. Skiing impacts the natural world, but if you make good choices and inform yourself, you can help lessen the negative effects. 

Do you take any steps to be a more environmentally conscious skier? Let me know in the comments below.    

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