He also pledges to inspire his fans, partners and fellow professional cyclists to join his mission to rebalance the sport’s environmental impact
Ahead of my first WorldTour race of 2021 (starting next week at Volta a Catalunya) I am excited to announce that I am making a personal commitment in making a positive difference as a professional cyclist.
My particular passion and motivation is to tackle the impact I am having on the planet while racing bikes for a living. This is a hugely important and complex issue with no quick fix but my goal is to educate myself, take responsibility for my lifestyle, and to inspire my fans, partners and fellow pros along the way.
As one of my actions, I am pledging to make 2021 a carbon neutral season.
Cycling is an amazing way to get around, explore, keep fit and has very little direct impact on the environment. You can travel hundreds of miles at a pace that allows you to really enjoy nature, all while not contributing to its decline.
But as a professional cyclist, it’s another story. I fly to races regularly and have a convoy of cars and trucks following my every move. I sit on a massive bus at the end of each stage, and go through countless plastic bottles and packaged goods. I consume vast volumes of food, including large quantities of meat, and go through far more clothing than the average person.
I love my job, but it’s hard to deny that the cost of my performance, and the impact it has on the planet, is significant.
I was inspired to take action through conversations with Christian Meier (former professional racer and founder of The Service Course) at the start of this year. This has led me to audit my personal and professional lifestyle using the World Wildlife Fund’s carbon footprint calculator. Unsurprisingly, the results were quite disturbing. To account for where my impact is unavoidable I am using Gold Standard to make financial contributions to offset my annual carbon footprint. I will be sharing details of this and much more in the coming weeks and months.
Riding has really opened my eyes to how beautiful the planet is and I want to do my part in protecting it.
All the best and big thanks for listening.
Audit and Offsetting Details
After talking to Christian about his decision to take personal actions as well as make changes within his company, The Service Course, to positively impact the environment, I was inspired. I realized that it was time for me to take an audit of my habits and lifestyle, to see where I can make adjustments.
In order to get this audit done, Christian referred me to the World Wildlife Fund’s carbon footprint calculator. There, I did a full audit of my lifestyle. Then, I went to the website myclimate.org and I broke down my entire 2019 season (as 2020 was certainly a misrepresentation of my normal calendar year). On the site, I did an assessment of how much I travelled and the impact of all of the vehicles that helped support me in my races.
This exercise was an eye opening experience. The average person living in a similar region to me emits roughly 12-24 tons of CO2. However, after carefully breaking down the level of shipping and consumption oriented around my riding, and the amount that I travel, and have vehicles supporting me in order to perform at all of my races, my total carbon footprint was 60 tons of CO2 (33 tons of which can be chalked up to my travel to races).
There are some things that I have been doing well. Both Elly and I rarely use a car when we are home. We mainly walk or commute via bike, and we try our best to shop locally and cut down on the amount of meat that we eat, and when we do eat meat we try to always purchase meat that is raised and butchered locally.
However, the amount of clothes and products that I consume at races, and in training, and the amount that I travel are the biggest contributors to my impact on the earth’s climate. This was very disturbing for me to see, and it has made me realize that moving forward I need to make some serious changes in my lifestyle.
From simple things such as taking a permanent knife, fork, cup and bowl with me on the road so that I am no longer using plastic utensils and plates during our post race meals, to rethinking how I eat, and travel, and paying to offset all of the carbon that I emit, for 2021 I am pledging to make this a carbon neutral season.
Using the website GoldStandard.org, each month, based off of my total carbon emissions, I will make contributions to their certified projects. From biodiversification to climate justice all of these organizations are aimed at financing a transition to a net zero carbon economy.
Stay tuned for more to come throughout this year and beyond.
About Michael Woods
Born and bred in Canada, Michael “Rusty” Woods is a professional cyclist for the Israeli World Tour team Israel Start Up Nation. The 2018 World Championship bronze medalist, and 2016 Olympian was once a professional runner, and is the only person to have broken 4 minutes for the mile and completed the Tour de France.