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7 tips for eco-responsible holidays in the Alps

Increased traffic, water and energy consumption, waste production… Like any tourist site that welcomes crowds of holidaymakers, the mountains are subject to numerous environmental impacts.

But we can all do our bit to limit these harmful effects. Get around by foot or by bike, control your water and energy consumption, buy locally, choose an eco-certified destination… By incorporating these few simple things into your holiday, everyone can help to protect our beautiful mountains.

Here are seven things you can do today to reduce the environmental impact of your winter holidays and make your mountain holidays eco-responsible.

Before your holiday

1. Choose an eco-certified destination

Th eco-certified village of Combloux, in the snow
Combloux : a small resort that takes its eco-responsibility seriously © Office de Tourisme de Combloux

Organising an eco-responsible mountain holiday means first and foremost choosing a green, sustainable destination.

To be sure of travelling to an eco-responsible destination, holidaymakers can opt for resorts with the Station verte or Flocon Vert label. These awards, which highlight resorts committed to a policy of sustainable development, give visitors a clear vision of responsible mountain tourist destinations.

They include the charming resorts of Samoëns and Châtel, which have been awarded the Station Verte label, as well as Combloux, Morzine and Le Grand Bornand, with the Flocon Vert label.

To find out more about these eco-responsible resorts, consult our guide.

2. Choose items that are made locally or recycled

A rail of second-hand clothes for sale
Buy used clothing to cut pollution caused by the textile industry © Groupe Casino

The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet. One of the best ways of ensuring that our clothing choices don’t harm the environment is to choose the right place to buy our clothes. By opting for locally-made, upcycled or second-hand brands, you can considerably reduce your carbon footprint, and help support the local economy at the same time.

Here are a few eco-responsible alternatives for limiting your carbon footprint during mountain shopping sessions:

  • Buy sustainable, ethical, locally-made fashion brands that are committed to selecting sustainable, eco-responsible, quality products;
  • Buy second-hand. Second-hand shops, second-hand websites and apps, boot fairs, garage sales, dress sales, charity second-hand shops… Second-hand shops are becoming more and more common these days. Some major retailers, such as Decathlon, are even setting up resale channels for “second-hand” items;
  • Recycle old clothes instead of throwing them away at the slightest sign of wear and tear. Many groups, such as One Tree at a Time and Re-Action Collective, are committed to a greener leisure industry. They offer tips on how to keep your clothes for longer, by repairing them or rethinking their use;
  • Hire your equipment.

3. Choose an energy-efficient chalet

The living area of Chalet Alpayak in Combloux
Rent a chalet with large picture windows to make the most of daylight for as long as possible © Chalet Alpayak OVO Network

To limit your carbon footprint even further, it’s also worth choosing accommodation that also takes a responsible approach. Opting for an energy-efficient rental is an important part of making your holiday even more eco-responsible.

To find the accommodation best suited to your needs, make an appointment with one of our advisors. They’ll give you their expert advice and help you choose the eco-responsible chalet of your dreams.

Discover luxury properties in the Alps


During your stay

4. Control energy expenditure

A person turning down the thermostat
Simple measures to reduce consumption can help protect the environment © HUUM

But choosing a property with energy-efficient equipment is not enough to make your holiday eco-responsible. The carbon footprint of your holiday will also depend on how you use the equipment.

Turning the heating down a few degrees, switching off lights after your stay, unplugging chargers when the batteries are full, taking quick showers instead of baths… By taking these simple steps during your holiday, you’re helping to make your holiday eco-responsible.

5. Opt for transport which is less polluting

Navette de la station de Tignes.
Many resorts offer a shuttle service to the town centres and ski areas.© Office de Tourisme de Tignes

Almost 60% of a mountain resort’s greenhouse gas emissions are linked to the way holidaymakers are transported. So if you want to reduce your carbon footprint and take care of the mountains, the question of transport is vital when organising your trip.

On the Ademe website (France’s ecological transition agency), there is a section for estimating the carbon footprint of an itinerary according to the mode of transport. It’s a good way of finding out the impact of your journeys and encouraging you to think about more sustainable alternatives.

Alternatives such as the train, which is one of the least polluting modes of transport. Or car-sharing, a simple and efficient way of getting straight to your destination.

On-site, “soft mobility” is also a good idea. Cycling, walking, public transport… there are plenty of ways to get around the mountains in a more environmentally friendly way. In winter, most resorts offer a shuttle service to take holidaymakers from their homes to the heart of the resort, the ski area, or even to the station!

Favouring soft mobility is therefore a good way of making your mountain holiday even more eco-responsible.

6. Discover soft, environmentally-friendly activities

Woman sitting in the snow facing the mountains, with hersnowshoes beside her.
Favour soft activities for an eco-responsible holiday © Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme

Eco-responsible holidays in the mountains can also involve taking part in gentle, environmentally friendly activities. And there are plenty of alternatives to downhill skiing and snowmobiling.

For extreme sports enthusiasts, there’s fat biking, for example, which uses no polluting fuel. Those who prefer a quieter pace will appreciate snowshoeing or dog-sledding.

For more alternatives to downhill skiing, see our articles What to do in a resort if you don’t ski? and Winter activities: The French Alps without skiing.

Unforgettable winter holidays in the Alps


7. Eat and drink locally

A range of products produced in the Alps
Eating local produce not only reduces our carbon footprint, it also helps to support the local economy. © Les Délices d’Alpage

Beer, wine, cheese, cold meats, chocolate, honey, fruit juices… The shops and grocery stores in the resorts are full of fresh, local and seasonal produce.

As well as limiting the carbon footprint associated with transporting food, eating locally also helps to support the local economy and local producers. And that’s eco-responsible too!

Most official Tourist Office websites have a page dedicated to local businesses. Co-operatives, markets or small craft shops… All the addresses you need to stock up on local produce are listed there.

8. Bonus: avoid posting all day on social networks

An email app on a tablet
Enjoy a digital detox during your holiday © Stephen Phillips –

The digital sector accounts for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, – 1.5 times more than air transport! Sending emails or photos, watching videos, searching on the internet… These are all extremely energy-intensive activities that have serious consequences for the environment:

  • If the Internet were a country, it would be the world’s 3rd largest consumer of electricity, after China and the United States;
  • Each photo posted on social networks consumes as much electricity as three or four 20-watt light bulbs burning for an hour;
  • 80,000 searches are made every second on Google worldwide, or 6.9 billion a day. That’s the equivalent of driving a car 6.7 million kilometres.

So, this winter, you might as well take advantage of your holidays to get into airplane mode and protect the environment. After all, a holiday in the mountains is a time to switch off, isn’t it?

Opt for soft mobility, control your water consumption, collect your rubbish, buy local… By taking these simple steps on a daily basis, we can all help to protect our beautiful mountains. So it’s up to us. Let’s make our mountain holidays as eco-responsible as possible!

And these small actions all add up to big changes!

To find out more:

Organise an eco-responsible holiday in the Alps


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