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How the Ski Industry is Working to Save Winter

The outdoor industry is upping its sustainability game, and the ski industry is no exception. Downhill skiing is notoriously known for its environmental impact?anywhere large amounts of people flock is bound to be a recipe for excessive waste. But?hitting the slopes may arguably be the?most carbon-intensive outdoor sport.

In particular, ski slopes use incredible amounts of electricity, from slope-side lighting?and fuel-intensive snow-making to keeping things toasty inside for patrons drinking their apr?s hot cocoas. But?energy isn’t the only hungry environmental monster. In the French Alps, it is estimated that yearly artificial snow production requires the same amount of water as would be used by 1,500 people. That’s a lot of water waste for just a little fake snow. And that’s not to mention the impacts of fake snow on the natural environment, which requires immense energy to produce, causes water displacement, and melts 2 to 3 weeks later in the season than natural snow, which postpones snowmelt. Scientists are still unsure about the ramifications of this.

No one can argue that ski resorts have a lot to lose when it comes to climate change and warming global temperatures. They rely primarily on a cold, snowy winter season, so it is in the industry?s best interests to do all it can to thwart a complete environmental meltdown. And that?s why ski resorts nationwide are looking to seriously green up their acts.

Many ski areas have pledged to do all they can to keep up with Paris Climate Accord goals, even though the US government has pulled out. Green building policies are being implemented for new condominiums in order to protect nearby animal habitats. Ski California has already set goals for water conservation, land preservation, increased clean public transit options and general increased efficiency and sustainability all around.?There are?plenty of?ways to reduce?the skiing industry?s carbon footprint, and that’s great for both skiers and the industry at large.

But the ski industry is looking to?get even greener.

Resorts across the country are working to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and make the move towards renewable energy. Jiminy Peak in Western Massachusetts runs one third of its energy needs (two thirds in winter) off of wind power, and they are looking to reduce their carbon footprint more and more each year.

Even more impressive, California ski resort Squaw Valley has just released its plan to go 100 percent renewable by as early as December 2018. The move from fossils to renewables by the ski industry is hopefully the first step in a larger shift in outdoor recreation towards renewable energy. After all, in order to play outdoors you need a healthy, clean environment to do it in.

If you love skiing but have a green conscience, it is important to choose your resort destinations carefully. Factor in airline travel, the resort’s sustainability practices,?the gear and food you buy, weather and anything else to make sure you aren?t adding to the problem. And if your local slope isn?t greening it up, talk to the manager, show them what some other resorts are doing and discuss ways you think?cleaner practices?could increase their slope?s economic and environmental viability in tandem. Let’s be real: increased environmental consciousness will pay off for all of us?on the long run.

Do you love skiing? What do you think you could do on your own to make your season pass less carbon intensive? Share your best ideas below!? ??

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How the Ski Industry is Working to Save Winter

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How to Choose the Right Solar Charger for Your Camping Trip

If you can’t bear to be unplugged when you go camping or backpacking, never fear. Now you can plug into a bevy of light, portable solar chargers to power your phone, camera, batteries, music player or other mobile device.

But first, what should you look for in a solar charger?

Portability

Portable solar chargers come in a wide variety of sizes that range from the dimensionsof a mobile phone to some as big as a small rug or medium-sized briefcase. Before you buy, be clear onhow much power you’ll need to to generate at any given time. If you’re backpacking, you’ll want lighter equipment. If you’re driving to your destination and setting up camp, you can take a heavier and more elaborate system.

Capacity

Hand-in-hand with size goes capacity. What kind of device or devices you’re charging, how many devices you need to charge and how many days, weeks or even monthsyou’ll need power willdetermine the size of the charger you’ll need. Inhabitat has put together recommendations for everyone, from “light packers” to “extreme adventurers” and more.

Price

Solar chargers come in all price points. Once you figure out how much capacity you need and the size charger that will do the job, compare prices and ratings online to get the most affordable charger to fit your budget. Outdoor Gear Lab’s ratings overview does a good job here.

Compatibility

Just about all solar chargers come with USB ports so you can charge any kind of phone or tablet that also has a USB port. However, some battery packs may only recharge using a wall outlet in which case your solar charger will be useless. Check to besure that your devices can plug into your charger before you buy.

Flexibility

Will your charger only collect sunlight if it’s lying on a flat or angled surface? Or does it some in a case with a grommet so you can clip it to your backpack and let it charge while you’re hiking? Can you clip a few chargers together to maximize your solar collection time?

Durability

What happens if you drop your solar charger? Does it come in a case to protect it from damage? Especially for devices the size of a cellphone, make sure they will be protected against breakage. Also, check the warranty on the product as well as online performance reviews to get consumers’ feedback on how well a device does its job. And if you need something that’s waterproof, you can find it on this list.

Weather and Sun Availability

An important consideration as you ponder your trip has to do with the sun itself. If you’re going to Costa Rica during the rainy season, I can tell you from personal experience that you can’t count on your solar charger to stay powered up. On the other hand, if you’re heading to the desert or just going camping when it’s likely to be mostly sunny, you won’t have any trouble recharging. The point is, a solar charger will operate most effectively when it can tap into solar power. There are lots of reasons to check the weather report before you leave on your trip. Add this one to the list.

Back-Up Battery Pack Instead?

If you’re going on a relatively short trip, say three days or less, a fully charged back-up battery pack for your phone and tablet may work just fine. Ifweight isn’t an issue, you may want to take both an extra battery and a solar charger. Plan your trip in advance so you can make an informed decision.

Or…simplify the entire process and just leave your mobile devices home. Isn’t that what getting into nature is all about?

Related:

5 of the Best Ways to Recharge Batteries
Solar-Powered Backpack Charges Gadgets

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Choose the Right Solar Charger for Your Camping Trip

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5 Eco Escapes to Warm Weather This Winter

If you’re dreading the next three or four months of cold winter weather, perhaps it’s time to consider cashing in your miles or shopping the air fare sales so you can head to warmer climes at least for a week or two. Here are five of my favorite destinations, all of which have allowed me to lower my carbon footprint by camping when I get there or staying in a low-impact eco-lodge, anddoing some volunteer work.

1) Cinnamon Bay Campground, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands – Our family started going here when my children were literally toddlers (including one in diapers), and we returned several years in a row, usually in February, when the kids had a nice long break from school.St. John is considered a temperate rain forest; it also has the mountainous terrain that once-active volcanoes left behind, in addition to gorgeous beaches and fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving. Plus, much of the island is a national park, and the U.S. Park Service offers all kinds of activities for young and old alike. We always take their mountain-to-beach hike, which walks us past petroglyphs and around the three-dimensional webs that golden orb weaver spiders weave. Bring your own tent for “bare site” camping, or rent one of theirs, which includes clean sheets, picnic tables, and a barbecue. You can also rent a “cottage,” which is really two cement walls and two screened and curtained walls, but also some electricity. All showers and bathrooms are communal, but that never bothered any of us. Lower your carbon footprint by flying direct to St. Thomas, and then taking a ferry to St. John.

2) Whale Watching and Sea Kayaking, Baja California – February and March are the perfect times to go whale watching around Mexico’s Baja peninsula. This finger of land separates the Sea of Cortez from the Pacific Ocean; its sandy cliffs strike a gorgeous contrast to the deep blue ocean below and the robin’s egg blue sky above. You’ll kayak around Espiritu Santo Island, then head to Magdalena Bay and the safety of motorized skiffs, which will put you right in the middle of pods of 40-foot long migrating gray whales. Camp on the dunes above the beach, stargaze at night, and enjoy whales breaching in the bay while you eat breakfast in the morning.

3) Birding, Biking and Shelling on Sanibel Island, FL – If you’ve never been to Sanibel, you’re in for a treat. Located in Florida’s Gulf Coast, about an hour’s drive from Tampa/Fort Myers, this is the beach that’s famous for the billions of pale pink shells that cover its shores. It’s paradise for nature lovers, too, especially birders. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge hosts abundant bird life; if you go December through March, you’ll see the most birds, though I was there Memorial Day week one year and wasn’t disappointed. There are several hiking and biking trails where you might spot alligators and birds like the white ibis. There are also two designated kayak/canoe launch sites, and places to fish for snook and spotted sea trout. Enjoy a sunset sail out of Captiva, Sanibel’s “sister” city. There are plenty of camp grounds on Sanibel and in the Fort Myers area as well.

4) Camping, Rock Climbing and Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, California – If you’ve never been to Joshua Tree, you’re in for a real treat. This national park, located in southern California, encompasses two deserts: the higher Mojave, and the lower Colorado. The Little San Bernardino Mountains hug the park’s southwest edge, giving you many different ecosystems to choose from. The park takes its name from the unusual looking Joshua trees you’ll find there, but there are plenty of juniper, pinon pine, and various kinds of desert oaks, as well. The rock outcroppings, formed more than 100 million years ago as magma cooled beneath the surface, give the place an otherworldly feel. Camp in any one of the nine campgrounds on park grounds, though be aware that only three offer water and flush toilets. NOTE: Temperatures during the winter range in the 60s, but it does get down to freezing at night, so if you decide to camp, bring cold weather gear. Hiking ranges from natural trails to back country roads that are more rugged and challenging. There are thousands of rock climbing routes, too.

5) Canoeing and Kayaking on the Rio Grande – The Rio Grande sounds magical, and it can be. It follows the southern boundary of Big Bend National Park in west Texas for 118 miles. If you go the distance, you’ll see three major canyons: Santa Elena, Mariscal, and Boquillas. Take a half-day float trip, or extend your visit to seven days. Bring your own canoe, kayak, or raft, or sign on to a guide service. There are plenty of local outfitters that will provide guides, rent you equipment and give you up-to-date information on the river. You’ll have to bring your own water as well as food – and a passport if you plan to get out of your boat and step onto the Mexican side of the waters. If you have the time, spend a few days hiking and camping in the park’s back country, where you’ll find primitive campsites, some of which you can drive into on dirt roads that are best traversed with a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Do you have a favorite winter get-away? Please share!

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Eco Escapes to Warm Weather This Winter

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Stunning Short Film Showcases Passionate Young Farmers (Video)

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Stunning Short Film Showcases Passionate Young Farmers (Video)

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7 Natural Wonders You Haven’t Heard Of

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7 Natural Wonders You Haven’t Heard Of

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How to Create a Rain Barrel

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How to Create a Rain Barrel

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Meet The Woman Who Didn’t Buy Anything New for a Year

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Meet The Woman Who Didn’t Buy Anything New for a Year

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12 Wacky Weather Facts: From Moonbows to Blood Rain

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12 Wacky Weather Facts: From Moonbows to Blood Rain

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7 Fun & Natural Autumn Decor Ideas

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7 Fun & Natural Autumn Decor Ideas

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