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Resort towns aren’t turning green yet

Brief by Central Staff

Environment – January 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

Ski resorts are getting greener these days, with more of their electricity coming from wind power, rather than coal. The latest announcement came from Aspen, where the ski company made a deal to run the gondola entirely by wind-generated electricity.

Ski resorts, according to one national magazine, are more than worried about global warming, since higher temperatures reduce the amount of snow-covered terrain and shorten their season. Carbon dioxide from the burning of coal is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere and presumably contributes to global warming. Thus the interest in other energy sources.

But the interest in clean, renewable energy only goes so far in most upscale resort towns, where outdoor clotheslines are often banned by zoning laws.

We’ve never understood why the sight of laundry on a line would bother tourists. A similar sentiment was expressed by Alex Nikolic of Whistler, British Columbia, who wrote to the local paper complaining about the town’s ban on clotheslines. “How sustainable is this? Heaven forfend the tourists see our clean underwear.”

It strikes us that there are a lot of zoning laws and residential covenants that promote consumption rather than economical living. Some rural subdivisions, for instance, require shake shingles (a fire hazard), and others insist on blue-grass lawns (a water guzzler). Woodpiles and clotheslines are also often prohibited — which strikes us as an affront to the whole idea of a rural lifestyle.