Pro Snow and Where It Falls: Ski Butlers CEO and founder Bryn Carey on climate change, sustainability and giving back.
Park City, Utah, where Ski Butlers is based, has set a goal of achieving a net-zero carbon footprint and using 100 percent renewable energy by 2020. In the words of the Park City Municipal Corporation (PCMC), carbon neutrality, or having a net-zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by balancing the carbon released to the atmosphere with an equivalent amount of carbon trapped away from the atmosphere or offset by renewables. According to PCMC, “this means that we will balance the amount of CO2 equivalents that we emit with the amount that we save by transitioning to renewable energy, efficiency measures, and improving carbon sinks such as forested open space.”
Bryn Carey, founder and CEO of Ski Butlers, is convinced that something will happen to make a significant change in combating the ill effects of climate change—it’s just a question of when. Carey has worked closely with PCMC to help the community reach its net-zero carbon footprint goal, and in fact has implemented a company-wide commitment within Ski Butlers to go to 100 percent renewable energy by 2020. Here he shares thoughts on climate change, sustainability and his strong belief in giving back to the communities that Ski Butlers serve.
Q: Since the inception of the company nearly 15 years ago, Ski Butlers has pledged in its core values to protect the mountains and the mountain environments. Have your values changed?
A: We’ve refreshed our mission, vision and values, adding a new core value called “Give.” We want to make a difference in the communities where we live. It’s part of our DNA and our core values. Other team members can interpret that in different ways, and give back. But my biggest way as CEO and owner is to give back in terms of climate change.
Q: What does that kind of giving back mean to you?
A: Small business owners have the opportunity to lead both within the organization and outside of it. I feel I need to lead whether it’s using a part of my day to work on climate change or work with a non-profit like Protect Our Winters (POW) or the town of Park City or other communities in creating a committee to share all the things we’ve done here and help them set and meet goals to go to net zero.
Q: What other initiatives are you working on?
A: We’re giving our team the entire afternoon off on Election Day. Statistics show that there are 16 million environmentalists who don’t vote. So we’re encouraging people to vote, educating them on stats like that and asking them to get at least 5 of their friends to vote. If other companies followed suit, that’s the start of changing the world.
Q: How are you doing on your sustainability goals?
A: Internally our goal was to get all of our energy by renewable sources by 2020. The Ski Butlers Park City location is already there. We just got an electric van from Europe, the only electric van in any ski delivery outfit. Our goal is not to buy gas vehicles after 2025. We’ve also added a new feature on the website where customers can donate to POW at the checkout process. Hopefully, we’ll raise more money for POW and also spread the message to other communities that Park City is a model for getting to net zero. Our question is: Can we get Breckenridge, Telluride, Jackson and Sun Valley to commit to using 100 percent renewable energy?
Q: Along with Park City, it looks like other communities such as Salt Lake City, Summit County and Moab are rallying behind carbon neutrality. How are you involved with this?
A: Locally, in the state of Utah, there’s a bill to clean up the logistics to basically remove red tape so that a town in Utah that wants to go to 100 percent renewable can vote on it and go forward. We’re helping out here. For the Park City Day of Giving, on Nov. 9, we’re donating $2,500 to Summit Community Power works, run by Utah Clean energy.
Q: There are so many choices out there today. Why do you think it’s important to be mindful of which companies you choose to patronize?
A: I know that millennials pick companies because they stand for something, but we’d be doing what we do regardless. We have the moral responsibility to do it. If you could pick between one company that delivers and another, I hope that this might provide a little extra tipping point because we’re taking a stand and believing in something that ultimately protects the snow so we can go on vacation.
Q: Do you have hope that there can be global changes in sustainability?
A: In Al Gore’s presentation at a Climate Reality Leadership training I attended, he talked about the landline and the cell phone. In many parts of the world, people never had access to the telephone. But millions of people jumped from no phone to a cell phone. It created demand, the network and investment. As another example, people around the world are bypassing the electric grid and getting solar power. Tesla believes that it will soon be more affordable to have an electric vehicle than a gas burning one. It’s starting to get cheaper to have clean energy, but we have to remove the politics and special interests. My hope is that we’re going to solve this crisis and change and it. The question is, when will this happen? That “when” will determine the history of the ski industry and the earth.