The Environment and Chalet La Foret: Responsible Tourism
We are working on several initiatives to make the chalet as eco-friendly as possible:
If you’d like to recycle some of your rubbish, we have provided two bins to help keep them separate. Les Praz has several recycling points, one of which is conveniently on the way to the Flegere lift from the chalet. There are separate bins for:
CO2 emissions — towards a carbon neutral chalet
We are hoping to offset the carbon emissions of the chalet by supporting a local tree planting program and by planting trees ourselves. As of winter 2010, we have already planted around 50 trees and shrubs so far — almost all native species, reforesting the fringes of the garden with pine, larch, rowan and birch.
We are moving as many of our cleaning products as possible to eco-friendly alternatives. All the detergents, dishwasher tablets and washing up liquid etc that we provide are now green brands such as Ecover, and as much of the chalet cleaning products as possible. We continue to research and improve in this area.
Green electrical tariffs were only introduced very recently in France, but there are now several good providers. Our provider is Grenoble based GEG, whose EcoAlp offering was well reviewed by Greenpeace France, who commended their investments into renewables such as solar and hydroelectric power.
The chalet itself is largely constructed of natural materials (local larch and granite). Larch is a high altitude wood — you’ll notice the pine trees change to larch trees as you ascend the slopes in Chamonix — with particularly good natural insulation properties. It has a double thickness roof for extra insulation, is fully double glazed, and the curtains are thermal lined to help keep the heat in as much as possible. There is a wood fire downstairs, and using this renewable form of heating helps to cut electricity use. We have replaced many lightbulbs with energy-efficient ones, and are continuing our search for suitable bulbs for the remainder.
We’d be delighted to hear any suggestions that you may have.
The Ski Club of Great Britain’s Respect The Mountain Campaign was launched to help safeguard the natural environment and the long-term future of skiing.
The aim of the campaign is to remind people to be aware of the delicate environment we live and play in and advises people to try and follow the seven steps:
Seven easy steps
1. Be aware of your environmental impact as skiers and boarders
Educate yourself about your environmental impact on the mountains, and what you can do to minimise it.
2. Do not leave litter on the slopes
When the snow melts, the litter will still be there. Bin it or take it home. Orange peel takes up to two years to break down, and cigarette ends up to five years. If you find litter on the slopes, do the right thing — pick it up.
3. Respect the natural habitat of mountain animals and plants
If you ski through trees, you can damage them by knocking off branches and killing young shoots under the snow. Take care. Many areas are out of bounds to protect the natural habitat of animals and plants — not just for safety reasons.
4. Choose a resort which uses environmentally friendly practices
Many resorts now use bio-diesel fuel in piste-bashers, solar panels for heating, hydro-electricity/wind energy for power and a host of other initiatives. Some resorts use the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 14001 as a mark of their environmental credentials.
(Chamonix is making good progress in this area. See the current review of responsible tourism in Chamonix.)
5. Encourage tour operators to adopt green policies
Find out if your tour operator offers train travel as an alternative to flying, if they use paper from sustainable forests for their brochures, if they use, for example, low-wattage light bulbs in their chalets and bio-degradable detergents.
6. Do your bit to reduce global warming on holiday and at home
Re-use your towels each day, re-cycle household waste and switch off electrical appliances when not in use.
7. Reduce CO2 emissions
By flying fewer miles, or switching from air to rail, you can help reduce the volume of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. When possible, use your bike instead of your car.