At Treble Cone Ski Area and Cardrona ski resorts, sustainability began with the removal of single-use coffee cups several years ago. Then in 2021, the bins for rubbish to landfill disappeared. “We say we’re like the Department of Conservation. You pack in, you pack out. Whatever you bring with you, you have to take away with you,” says Ewan Mackie, Treble Cone Ski Area Manager and RealNZ Sustainability Lead.
Food at the ski fields’ cafes is now only served out of jars, on washable crockery, or in compostable packaging. Bins are put out for compostable, recyclables and food waste, and because removing waste off the mountain generates emissions, they compost onsite. All of these efforts are not only saving the planet, but good business decisions, Ewan says. To reduce emissions further, free shuttle buses are offered from the base of both ski areas. “Fifty people on a bus is way more efficient than 50 people using private vehicles.”
However, sustainability can hit technological or practical limits and while all efforts must be made, Ewan says it’s conservation where tourism can have an immediate upside. “That’s where the gold is.”
As a result, Treble Cone and Cardrona are planting thousands of native plants and trapping pests in their rohe (areas) in partnership with the Southern Lakes Sanctuary project. They are also involved in a five-year monitoring study of the Kārearea, the New Zealand falcon.
The example tourism businesses set can have an impact far beyond the experiences they offer, Ewan says. “We have 350,000 people come through Cardrona and Treble Cone each year. If every single one of them is influenced in some small way, then that’s the key point.”
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