Save Our Snow is an impartial compiler and publisher of data on what the ski industry and ski resorts are doing to combat climate change, established in 2004.
The site and the ‘Green Resort Database’ were first conceived by snow sports writer and researcher Patrick Thorne, who has spent the past three decades collecting information on ski resorts around the world. Increasingly aware of climate change’s effects on ski areas, and what ski resorts were doing to combat it, Patrick felt uniquely placed to bridge the information gap that was apparent in the general media and ski industry reporting.
A LOOK BACK
Save Our Snow was founded as a central information point, documenting the environmental initiatives of ski resorts around the world. While the site is primarily focused on climate change, other aspects of environmental management and sustainability are often reviewed.
The original site, created 14 years ago, contained details of 250 ski areas around the world leading the fight against climate change, as well summaries of academic studies into how climate change will affect the future of the industry. It also analysed ski tourism operators, in particular those with a green travel ethos.
In 2004, when global warming was first breaking into the mainstream, the ski industry was being criticised for not being ‘green’ enough – actually being perceived as one of the key contributors of environmental decline. Save Our Snow was thus founded to publicise the ongoing efforts of ski resorts, and fight the unfair condemnation of the ski industry.
At the same time, information on how eco-friendly ski resorts were was extremely limited. While people were being urged to research their winter holiday destinations, many found this extremely difficult due to limited publicity surrounding the issue. Furthermore, this information was often provided on a partisan basis, mostly covering areas in France and the USA whilst ignoring other countries. The ambition of Save Our Snow was to treat all countries and ski resorts equally.
The site has always been facts driven, with the sole aim of providing concise, easy to understand facts and figures to anyone interested. This includes breaking down long, academic reports into their key points, as well as ‘greenwash’ marketing documents, in an effort to report the truth. Whilst Save Our Snow is generally pro-ski industry, it is also independent of it, accepting donations but refusing advertising or sponsorship by any corporate bodies. It is run on a purely volunteer basis.
THE PAST DECADE
The past 10 years have seen environmental management go from being seen as a ‘necessary evil’ within the ski industry to being deeply ingrained in its attitudes and practices.
At the same time, because environmental management is now seen as an expectation within industry of every kind, there exists a danger of complacency, and so it is important to keep highlighting what is being done. This includes how ski resorts are leading the world in their efforts to fight snow’s greatest threat. These efforts may be day-in and day-out, but also come in the form of some big investments, of which the site takes particular note.
Save Our Snow exists to highlight the efforts of ski resorts on an international scale. Simply placing this information in one place clearly shows that hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in green initiatives at ski areas. At the heart of these investments, as well as the vast majority of decisions made by the snow sports industry in the 21st Century, is environmental awareness.
By researching these global efforts, Save Our Snow is exclusively able to produce collected data on the worldwide ski industry.
As an example, existing Save Our Snow research indicates that 58 of the world’s top 250 ski areas (∼23%) are solely powered by green energy, and that 56 of those generate some or all of that energy on site. As far as we are aware, this kind of global data is not collected anywhere else.
A SPECIAL ORGANISATION
So what makes Save Our Snow different from other environmental ski groups?
- It’s focused on the industry’s efforts to fight climate change, and highlight the dangers to said industry that global warming poses. It is less focused on ‘sustainable tourism’ or other environmental aspects of resort management – although these are sometimes related
- Save Our Snow is specifically a comprehensive information resource
- The site is truly international, endeavouring to treat all corners of the globe equally, without a national or regional agenda. We believe national boundaries are irrelevant in fighting what is a global issue
- Finally, Save Our Snow is one of the oldest eco-ski organisations still operating
OUR SITE ‘ATTITUDE’
In reporting, Save Our Snow tries to take a positive approach to ski areas and their environmental contributions. We recognise the huge efforts and often large-scale investments made by ski resort staff, managers and owners to combat climate change.
However, we are not blind to the fact that some snow sports developments are not in the best interests of our planet, and at times agree to a greater or lesser extent with environmental groups. Nevertheless, we disagree with those mainstream media reports that seek to blame the entire ski sector for environmental damage, or it use it as a symbol of mankind’s excess.
On the contrary, we believe the snow sports industry is one of the world’s most environmentally-friendly, trying harder than almost all others to reduce its ecological footprint. This is a rational position, given that the snow-reliant market will be one of the primary victims of global warming, caused predominantly by other human activities outside the mountains.
We also believe that those involved in the snow sports industry, as well as recreational skiers, boarders and so on are more likely to understand the threats posed to our environment – and the most likely to act on this.