Canadian pro cyclist Michael Woods has committed to a carbon-neutral season in 2021
"Cycling is an amazing way to get around, explore, keep fit and has very little direct impact on the environment," the 34-year-old from Ottawa said in a statement. "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."
Woods who rides for the Israel Start-Up Nation team, said he was inspired by conversations with former pro rider Christian Meier, who now owns a bike store in Girona, Spain.
"This has led me to audit my personal and professional lifestyle using the World Wildlife Fund’s carbon footprint calculator," said Woods.
He used his 2019 season to make the calculations, calling it an eye-opening experience."
Woods says the average person living in a similar region emits roughly 12 to 24 tons of CO2. Considering his travel and the support vehicles helping him at races, Woods estimated his total carbon footprint was 60 tons of CO2, 33 of which can be chalked up to his travel to races.
Woods said he and his wife Elly, who live in Spain with their young daughter, mainly walk or commute via bike at home. And they try to shop 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."
That includes simple things like forgoing plastic utensils as well as paying to offset carbon emissions. To that end, Woods pledges to contribute to organizations aimed at financing a transition to a net-zero carbon economy.
Woods is slated to compete next in the Volta a Catalunya, which starts Monday and runs through March 28.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2021
The Canadian Press