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What does Skiing have to do with Sustainability?

Over the holidays I have had the pleasure of spending some time in the mountains. In an ideal world, I would spend my time in the backcountry “earning my turns” instead of riding a chair lift–far too often I find my rear planted firmly on a chair lift. The environmentalist in me questions the environmental costs that go into skiing: gas burned driving to the mountains, fossil fuel burned to turn the the chairs, and (gasp) emissions from plane travel (only when necessary).

Over the past week I’ve been chatting with a friend about all of this. His stance, which I think is valid, is that skiing gets people into the outdoors and helps them to see and experience the places that are at risk and should be protected.

Case and point is in Jackson Hole, WY. The area has a significant draw for the well-heeled. On their heels have followed a plethora of non-profits that use Jackson as a “hunting ground” for donors. One of my friends who works for The Nature Conservancy and lives here can attest to the success of this tactic.

Now, a growing trend amongst ski resorts ia helping environmentalists with guilty conscious. The National Ski Area Association has been running a Sustainable Slopes program for several years now. Members of this association must follow guidelines set out by the NSAA. Some resorts go beyond this–Jackson Hole is also ISO 14001 certified. JH even offsets their energy usage and advertises this on their trail maps!

Sustainability is making inroads in some interesting places. What are some other industries that are following a similar trend?

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