Living, working, and recreating with sustainability in mind can seem daunting, but there’s lots that you can do! The most important single action that Stevens Pass takes as a company is addressing the climate change caused by global warming. And it’s the same for you: try to drive less, fly less, and use mass transit when possible. Beyond that, there are lots of ways to reduce your other environmental impacts…
- FIRST – get educated about global warming! It’s already happening: notice the shorter winters? Average annual PNW temps have risen by 1.5F over the past 100 years, and are expected to rise two more degrees by the 2020’s. In Washington, snow cover has been decreasing by 2-3 days/decade, and is projected to decrease 28% by the 2020s. Believe it or not, average sea-level is already rising at 1-2mm/year, and 20% of the Polar (Arctic) Ice Cap has disappeared since 1979. Fifty-three glaciers in Washington’s North Cascades have already disappeared (over the past 50 years), and Glacier National Park is expected to lose all glaciers by 2030.
Clearly, this is the biggest environmental challenge humans have ever faced and we all need to understand how we can be part of the solution. For a very readable and brief science-based overview of the issue, see the Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Global Warming published by the City of Aspen, Colorado. Or visit the FAQ page at the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website.
Now go and educate others, including family, friends, colleagues and your Members of Congress in Washington D.C.!
- Ski Conservation Fund – Here’s a great way to give back to the mountain environment you love. We’re the first resort in WA to partner with the National Forest Foundation: you can now donate $2 which they match at 50%, and then give to a local non-profit restoration group. The money is invested in summertime trail work, tree planting, revegetation, and other conservation measures in the forest where we operate. The Ski Conservation Fund donation is available through our online store or at the lift ticket window for just $2.
- Carbon Footprint – Take personal action to lower your own “Carbon Footprint”: in other words, the amount of Carbon Dioxide produced for your personal transportation, heating, and electric power needs. This is by far the biggest influence we have on the environment, and it’s why Stevens Pass buys our own 100% windpower carbon credits to cover all of our electricity and propane use. Use this tool to calculate your footprint.
You can buy a $2 SkiGreen Carbon Offset every time you come to Stevens Pass to help offset your vehicle’s emissions, or get one for a season’s worth of driving for just $20. This goes directly to a non-profit foundation that funds clean, renewable, non-polluting windpower.
Remember you can lower your carbon footprint by carpooling, bussing, or using the Park&Ride whenever you can.
If you’re buying a car, look for efficiency (at least 30mpg) and consider the new clean diesel cars; look for wagons instead of SUV’s; or consider a hybrid SUV. And don’t leave that car parked and idling! – in one hour, you’ll waste ¾ of a gallon of gasoline and produce 10 pounds of carbon emissions.
Consider signing up for “Green Power” at home: depending on where you live, you can purchase renewables (like windpower or solar) directly, or pay a small premium to have more of it developed for everyone in the future. In Washington, renewables should become a lot more available because state law now mandates that 15% of power be renewable by 2020.
Keep Winter Cool lists other ways to reduce your snowsports-related climate footprint.
- Other Simple Actions you can take in your own life include:
Save Energy at Home
In the winter, feel for drafts around doorways & windows, then apply caulking and weather-stripping to seal the gaps. Do you have any insulation in the attic? Once your house is tighter, you won’t be pushing heat outside and you can turn your thermostat down a notch. For each degree you lower your thermostat in the winter, you can cut your energy bills by three percent. Less energy use = less Carbon Dioxide produced.
Buy Energy Efficient Appliances
Did you know that modern flatscreen TV’s use more power than many refrigerators? Picking energy efficient computers, electronics, TVs, and appliances can make a big difference in energy use. It will usually cost a bit more, but you'll save a lot on all future electricity bills. Less energy use = less Carbon Dioxide produced.
If you install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, you can get the same performance with half the water. Then lower your water heater setting to 120°F and see hot-water costs go down by up to 50%. Less heated water = less energy used = less Carbon Dioxide produced.
Eat & Shop Locally
In the USA, the average meal travels at least 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate – that’s a lot of wasted energy and pollution. Many consumer goods also come from overseas or out of state, producing lots of greenhouse gas during transportation. Less fuel use = less Carbon Dioxide produced.
Shade trees keep your house cooler in the summer, and lower your A/C costs (if you have it). Of course, trees also absorb Carbon Dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas that we have produced too much of! More trees = less Carbon Dioxide
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The energy saved by producing consumer goods from recycled content can be impressive, even when factoring in collection & transport: 70-95% savings for metals, 25-40% savings for paper, 55-75% for plastics, and 31% for glass (unless it’s refilled, leading to a 328% energy savings!). Less virgin material = less energy used = less Carbon Dioxide produced.