Whether you love to ski, to snowboard, or just want to relax, there is something extra special about a winter holiday. Views to take your breath away, fresh air deep in your lungs, pristine snow all around you. Up in the mountains you can really get away from the everyday.
When you have had your fill of fun and excitement on the snow, what better than a drink or meal with friends? After enjoying the local cuisine, it 'is a treat to head back to your cosy base for a good night's sleep and a pleasure to wake up to those stunning alpine vistas. A hearty breakfast and you are all set for another day of winter magic.
You do not need to be in the mountains to enjoy a special time with the snow all around. You could be skating with friends, discovering a traditional market, marvelling at the festive lights, or being wowed by nature's northern lights.
If you have ever worried about the environmental impact of winter tourism, there is a simple way to find peace of mind. By choosing EU Ecolabel tourist accommodation, you will contribute to tackling three of the biggest environmental challenges with one simple gesture.
Tackling climate change
Climate change is a huge threat to the future of winter tourism. Shifts in weather and the warming climate have reduced snowfall and made it harder to produce artificial snow. Some studies show that the winter season is one month shorter than it was just a few years ago.
A shorter season does not just reduce options for skiers and snowboarders; it also threatens the viability of businesses in winter resorts.
Making winter tourism more sustainable will help to limit these impacts. Choosing EU Ecolabel tourist accommodation is a simple way to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat global warming and ensure we have a proper winter sports season in years to come.
EU Ecolabel tourist accommodation is at the forefront of the transition to renewable energy resources and investments to reduce energy consumption. To hold the label, the accommodation must have sourced at least half its electricity from renewables. Energy efficiency is achieved by turning to low-energy lightbulbs and appliances, as well as highly efficient air conditioning and heating systems. Hotels that carry the EU Ecolabel use up to 50% less energy than standard accommodation.
They are also happy to share information about sustainable transport options, from local trams and buses to bikes and electric vehicles. You can then choose to enjoy the fresh air and breath-taking scenery in a more climate-friendly way.
Using less water
With so much snow and ice around, it may come as a surprise to learn that water can be a precious resource in winter resorts. The influx of tourists during ski season can massively increase demand and put pressure on water treatment systems. With snowfall decreasing because of climate change, there is an ever greater need for artificial snow, which puts even more pressure on water resources in Alpine regions.
Forward-thinking EU Ecolabel tourist accommodation guarantees a circular approach to water management. Taps, toilets and showers are more efficient, rainwater is recycled, and towels changed only when necessary. There are economic benefits for the businesses that choose this sustainable approach. Moreover, the improvements to environmental performance are so subtle that as a guest your stay will compare favourably with traditional accommodation in terms of quality.
From a distance, every ski run looks pristine. Look closely and you may be shocked by the amount of plastic you can see. Abandoned bottles, cups and other waste could remain in the mountains for decades, damaging the environment and potentially making their way into the food chain. Micro-plastics are a growing menace in the mountains. Scientists have found them in significant concentrations in Alpine glaciers.
If you stay in EU Ecolabel accommodation in a winter resort, you won't find any single-use packaging, disposable cutlery or cups to leave on the slopes. These places also make sure that plastic and other waste streams are sorted, and that toiletries and hazardous waste are disposed of properly.
What is the EU Ecolabel?
Recognised across Europe and around the world, the EU Ecolabel is awarded to products and services that meet high environmental standards throughout their life cycle. For tourist accommodation that means meeting a set of strict environmental performance criteria in a range of areas, from waste reduction to water consumption to tackling climate change. Every hotel and campsite awarded this label for environmental excellence meets 22 mandatory criteria and selected optional others.
It is easy to become part of the movement. More than 500 hotels and campsites are using the label to improve their environmental performance. The EU Ecolabel Tourist Accommodation website lists all the qualifying businesses by country, with convenient links to the hotels and campsites' own web pages. For more information, go to: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/ecolabel/index_en.htm