Addressing climate change is imperative to preserving snow sports in the eastern half of the United States. According to a recent study in the journal Global Environmental Change, greenhouse gas emissions will lead to an estimated 50 percent reduction in ski season length by 2050, if left unchecked.
Statistics like this call for bold action. So Vail Resorts, which owns and operates 19 mountain resorts, including Stowe, has vowed to erase their footprint on the environment. In 2017, they announced their ambitious and inspiring EpicPromise Commitment to Zero initiative. The goal: zero net carbon emissions, zero waste to landfills, and zero net operating impact on forests by the year 2030.
“Everything we do at Vail Resorts is driven by the spectacular natural surroundings where our employees, guests, and communities live, work, and play. The environment is our business, and we have a special obligation to protect it,” chairman and chief executive officer Rob Katz has said. “As a company so deeply connected to the outdoors, we are making a commitment to address our most pressing global environmental challenge and protect our local communities and natural resources.”
Here at Stowe, you’ll see evidence of this go green resolution when you chow down. “We are investing heavily in sourcing sustainable dining products,” says Marjory Elwell, Vail Resorts’ corporate communications manager. Through a partnership with the Boulder-based company Eco-Products, they have phased out single-use items like cups, straws, lids, plates, bowls, and cutlery in favor of recycled and compostable food and beverage containers.
Vail has also awarded grants to local organizations including the eco-oriented Green Mountain Club and Stowe Land Trust. Employees are a part of the go-green effort too, tending area trails on behalf of the Land Trust and lending a hand in the gardens at Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, which provides young people with paid outdoor farming and conservation work.
Nationally to date, Vail Resorts has diverted 7.7 million pounds of waste from landfills by enhancing their recycling and composting programs; entered a long-term deal to purchase the equivalent amount of renewable power needed to sustain 100 percent of its operations (310,000 megawatt hours per year for the next twelve years); invested in energy-efficient snowmaking guns (including 60 at Stowe); and funded the restoration of 12 acres of spruce trees to offset 12 acres displaced by widening ski trails and runs.
“EpicPromise is about preserving the communities and landscapes we love for future generations,” Katz wrote in the initiative’s first annual progress report. “To succeed, we must rely on our individual and collective participation to ignite a passion for the great outdoors and strong communities for generations to come—and actions speak louder than words.”