Dropping a ski pole, a glove or even a ski (or two!) from a lift is not so damaging to environment. But some skiers and boarders carelessly discard countless items of garbage on the slopes, leaving clean-up operations in springtime.
Next time you walk around ski trails in the spring, take a look underneath a chairlift once the snow has melted and you will realize what we mean by environmental damages. Cigarette butts, sweet and chocolate wraps, fruit remnants and items of clothing trace the line of the cables up the mountain. It has been estimates that as many as 30,000 cigarette butts are dropped under each chair lift during the season in the Alps… Such pollution has a direct impact on tourism and the local population, but it also pollutes the ground, the water and is dangerous to wildlife, damaging the mountain ecosystem which is already fragile as it is.
Some items found on the slopes can take a very long time to decompose. Here are a few examples of common items collected:
– Cigarette butts take from 3 to 15 years to decompose.
– Chewing gum takes 2 to 5 years to decompose.
– Packaging paper takes 100 to 450 years to decompose.
– Paper from lift pass takes 100 to 450 years to decompose.
– Banana peels take about 6 months to decompose.
– Plastic bags take 10 to 20 years to decompose.
– Aluminum cans take from 100 to 500 years to decompose.
– Plastic bottle: 100 to 1000 years
– Glass bottles take about 4000 years to decompose
Clean up campaigns by ski resorts or organizations are now large events where volunteers come from far to contribute to environmental protection and awareness. Such events take place across resorts in Europe, North America and Asia with organizations running litter collection events throughout the summer across many resorts in across the Alps.
So, let’s not wait for Spring Clean Up campaigns… act now! Do not drop litter from ski lifts and if you are visiting by car take your rubbish out of resort and recycle it down the mountain where facilities are better. Take a bag with you and pick up any litter you find lying around when skiing, boarding, ski touring or just walking in the mountains.