Written by Vivika Stamolis
Here in the high alpine, sustainability goes deep in our roots. We are more than outdoor enthusiasts – we are outdoor advocates. In all our activities, through all the seasons, we are committed to reducing our environmental impact. We say every day is Earth Day when living and breathing with the mountains.
It’s not easy being a big mountain ski resort and keeping a low carbon footprint. It takes collective effort to make it work. From employees to guests, neighbors to sponsors, everyone is contributing in some way. We respect and honor these lands together. With all that we receive from the earth, we make it a priority to give back in ways that will have a lasting positive effect, which continue to evolve from based data and feedback we receive. The point is that we all can make a difference with the actions we take, even if they seem small. Sustainability goes far and wide, so let’s dive into a few important topics together today.
Waste management is an important part of our plan to reduce our impact. Everything from food to plastic matters. We’ve ditched the plastic water bottles, plastic straws and utensils for 100% commercially compostable to-go ware. Commercial Composting is growing and saving tons of waste from piling up in the landfills each year. Even our trash bags are made of recycled fertilizer bags. “Using recycled trash bags reduces the amount of plastic that is put into the waste stream. They require much less petroleum products to make versus the average trash bag.” explains Alyx Knudson, Standards & Training Manager at Crystal Mountain.
Food for thought:
- Bring your own utensils.
- Ask for your coffee without the lid.
- Go meatless and enjoy our tasty vegetarian options.
- Use one paper towel – our recycled-fiber paper towels are extra absorbent to reduce the amount you need to dry effectively!
Over 80% of all waste from Crystal Mountain is either recyclable or compostable. Since 2019, our extensive composting and recycling plan has saved tons from the landfills, thanks to your help with proper disposal. For this to continue to work, items should be tossed thoughtfully into the right bins.
If you are questioning where an item goes, either ask one of us or toss it in the trash – misplaced items can contaminate the recycling or compost bins. In sum, consider the lifetime of what you buy. Take only what you need, and reduce or eliminate the extra waste.
As we look back on an extraordinary ski season, we thank Mother Nature for the snow she brought and the terrain she covers. Groomer cats are part of our daily and nightly routine to make the mountain more safe, skiable, and smooth. To counter the effects of noise and air pollution, we made the investment in a greener solution. Crystal Mountain was the first ski area in North America to bring in these 600E+ diesel/electric snow groomers.
The PistenBully 600E+ is powered by a diesel electric drive that boasts significantly lower ecological impacts than standard snowcats. The energy-saving technology reduces CO₂ greenhouse gas and NOX emissions by 20%. The powder days add up quick in the winter, and we’re stoked to have our corduroy powered by a greener alternative.
There is more to be stoked about as we wrap up skiing and riding. The Ikon Pass “Shred for Sustainability” initiative with American Forests plants trees for the days you ski and ride. Thanks to all the shred days that Ikon Pass holders have totaled in the 20/21 season, together with American Forests we will be planting over 22,500 trees across six forests in the US. 3,000 trees will be planted in Oregon alone. All that oxygen will go for miles, so we can breathe deep.
Even through a pandemic, we take great measures to stay sustainable. There were some difficult changes to come to terms with, such as the closure of indoor dining and the increase in single-use to-go ware. We challenged these changes with our eco-responsible minds, taking initiatives such as using only compostable ware, as mentioned above. If anything, we have become more determined to make a difference in innovative ways. It’s the passion of employees like Alyx Knudson that give new life to our mountain. Alyx created the Waste Management Training required for Crystal Mountain employees to teach important principles and instill eco-consciousness into our company culture. We gather a variety of opinions and backgrounds to guide our practices, including yours. Every choice matters to make for a cleaner, greener planet.
There are many more elements that make up our sustainable action plan. Follow along on our blog for more sustainability stories coming soon. Remember that you are making a difference, every step you take. With that, we thank you for joining us in our environmental efforts. By increasing awareness, we can spread the love for the earth across the ski industry and beyond. We can move mountains towards a healthier planet.