We’re Busy Making Ski Transfers More Sustainable Than You Think

What’s the first magical moment of your ski holiday? The thing that really gets your excitement level through the roof? Could it be the moment you realise that in just a few hours, you’ll be out skiing, sipping vin chaud or tucking into a fondue?

For most, it’s the first glint of those snowy mountain peaks from the warmth of the transfer van as you wind your way up to your destination.

Without snow, without winter, without nature, we’d never experience that feeling again. As a matter of fact, without winter, skiing simply wouldn’t exist and Vanoise Prestige, like many of the companies who have made their pledge with One Tree this winter, would never have been born.

There are two big issues I see in my life when it comes to the planet and how we care for it. The first is all too evident in the mountains and a real threat to our alpine lifestyle. Climate change.

Vanoise Prestige and the ski industry relies heavily on the natural seasons and it is becoming increasingly evident that seasonal patterns and temperatures are changing quickly.

Snow is arriving later, it rains in December, noticeable fluctuations in temperature are normal, and spring arrives earlier and earlier each year. Temperature changes might not be so evident in other places around the world. Living in Paris or London, you’re unlikely to notice one or two degrees of change, but here in the mountains, it creates a distinct difference between white snowy peaks or early tree blossoms. Things aren’t as they should be and it’s noticeable.

I’m also a surfer, it’s my summer passion. I dream of waves throughout the winter. The surf community is very vocal about a second important issue, sustainability and waste. It’s something that’s easy for us to see as tons of plastic frequently ends up in our oceans. All over the world, surfers are literally paddling through plastic waste on their way out to the surf.

In many ways, mountain life has fallen behind when it comes to sustainability commitments. Important issues such as waste reduction and mindful consumerism get left by the wayside whilst convenience, ease of logistics and client satisfaction take priority, with little regard for the bigger picture

Is it due to the fact that skiing brings people ‘closer to nature’ that the environmental impact of the industry is often overlooked or never considered? Out of sight, out of mind. If our precious white stuff was visibly littered with plastic waste, would we have begun acting sooner?

The One Tree at a Time pledge is really a way to tackle both of these issues while helping to inspire change across the ski industry. Working with the pledge system we can begin to not only reduce the damage done by creating sustainable working practices, we can instigate conversation that may lead to a chain reaction of change. By altering Vanoise Prestige’s operations, we are setting the bar for others to follow.

My passions, lifestyle and business rely completely on the natural world from mountain to ocean and I’m committed to making sure Vanoise Prestige is part of the solution, not the problem!

Isn’t it difficult for transfer companies to be green?

Well, on the face of it you’d say yes. In fact, a friend laughed in the bar the other evening when the subject of pledging to One Tree came up.

“How can you be green with a diesel van?” He remarked.

A point that we can’t hide from but actually when we dug a little deeper into the business, assessing all our operations, it became a more positive experience.

For now, my office is just a van, and while diesel is a problem, there is little waste generated elsewhere.

The company is almost completely paperless, I provide complimentary bottled water in glass bottles that are returned to the brewery for cleaning & refilling, and I lend clients reusable coffee cups to prevent them from using single-use products en route to their destination.

Cleaning products for use inside the vehicle are bought ‘en vrac’ (BYO containers) to reduce the number of plastic bottles needed to keep things spick and span, whilst AdBlue is purchased from the pump (like Diesel) to save us buying unnessecary single use plastic every six thousand kilometres.

When looking at the transfers from a sustainability point of view, with just a few small changes we start to take positive steps in the right direction.

Reducing fuel consumption is of course a tricky one. Simply trying to reduce mileage is hard, obviously low mileage would be great for the environment but maybe not so good for business…

Driving responsibly, and using Start-Stop technology onboard helps to reduce emissions and economise on fuel. Ensuring that we carry passengers in all directions, even if such a service must be offered at a subsidised rate in order to fill empty legs, means that we are not wasting precious millage.

Right now, electric vans aren’t entirely feasible. Technology has most certainly come a long way in recent years however commercial vehicles still don’t quite have the range we require to cover the fifty thousand kilometers we rack up each winter.

Plus, from a CO2 and sustainability standpoint, it is better to be running a well maintained modern diesel van than buying a brand new electric alternative. Until we find a viable solution, Vanoise Prestige is committed to offsetting emissions by planting trees for every journey.

Our journey to becoming green is well underway. There is always room for improvement and we’re ready to face the bumps in the road head on. We’re not perfect yet but with the One Tree at a Time pledge, things are changing, so join us for a ride.