Skydiving builds bridges and can spread environmentally sustainable stoke!
The sport of skydiving has enabled amazing connections among people from all walks of life, creating a global community of people who love to get radical and do awesome shit. I want to spread our stoke by building bridges to other communities around the world, especially those in need, in a way that helps our sport become more environmentally friendly.
I’m a skydiver, coming up on ten years in the sport, and this sport is an activity that I prioritize in my personal life.
I also care deeply about environmental sustainability, and this concern has motivated my entire professional life in the clean energy industry.
With all of my personal and professional endeavors, I try to be mindful that my actions are consistent with my beliefs, doing my best not to preach to others about how they ought to live their lives but rather to lead by living an awesome life with gratitude in such a way that I set a positive example.
With this in mind, I’ve been conflicted because there’s a byproduct of skydiving that isn’t consistent with the sustainability ethos motivating my professional life: excessive greenhouse gas emissions. This dawned on me a number of years ago when a friend of mine commented that she enjoyed seeing my cool skydiving videos but “it’s a bit carbon intensive, right?” She is right.
Skydiving is mainly a leisure activity that requires jet fuel to get us to altitude. The more jet fuel we burn, the more CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere, adding to an already unsustainable level of greenhouse gases that are causing global temperatures to rise, increasingly volatile weather, and rising sea levels. Climate change is happening, and it is disproportionately impacting people across the globe, especially those in the developing world.
The fact that my primary leisure pursuit contributes to something that I’m professionally motivated to combat is a contradiction that has bothered me tremendously. Though despite this seemingly hypocritical behavior, I haven’t stopped skydiving and don’t intend to anytime soon. However, I intend to do something to address this contradiction and hopefully go a bit further in making the world a better place for other people with whom we share our planet.
I’m incredibly thankful for skydiving. It has changed my life in ways that I never imagined it would. I have established some of my most cherished friendships in this community, and thanks to a sequence of events that began with skydiving, I was ultimately brought into contact with the person with whom I want to spend the rest of my life. Many of my friends who pursue the sport professionally or for pleasure are also incredibly thankful to be a member of their local and the global skydiving community. I would even go so far as to say that because the skydiving community brings together so many people from different cultures, countries, and walks of life to share in this mutual love of falling from the sky, the world is a better and more peaceful place. The world could use more reasons for people to come together in celebration of doing something awesome and smiling together.
The clear blue sky is our shared playground and we as skydivers have a vested interest in seeing that it is kept clean. So, motivated by my interest to create more positive global connections among us humans, I want to take this opportunity to build bridges with other communities around the world, especially those in need, in a way that helps our sport become more environmentally friendly.
In the spirit of global community building and in the interest of cleaning up our shared sky, I have decided to offset my carbon footprint from skydiving by purchasing verified carbon emission credits that help families in some of the world’s poorest communities. This purchase contributes directly to enabling healthier, happier lives through projects that provide access to better cooking and lighting technology for communities in Central America, Africa, and Asia.
In addition to making this purchase, I’ve launched a program for any skydiver who shares similar feelings and beliefs as I do to contribute to the cause. The program is enabled by a partnership with C-Quest Capital, a social impact project developer. Together we’ve estimated that the approximate average CO2 emission per person per skydive is ~27lbs [math below]. Carbon Offsets generated from C-Quest’s Transformation Carbon portfolio of projects across the world cost $8 per metric tonne of CO2. Therefore, one skydive costs ten cents to offset.
Since 2009 I’ve made around 1,200 skydives. As a demonstration of my commitment towards this environmental cause I’ve purchased offsets to account for all of my skydiving to date. As a demonstration of my commitment to staying active in the sport and continuing to strengthen and grow bonds among our community, I’ve also purchased offsets for another 800 jumps, totaling $200 for 2,000 skydives.
Here’s an example of the impact this $200 makes in a case where the money is being used to invest in fuel efficient, low-smoke cook stoves for families in Zambia… (see a list of all active Transformation Carbon Projects around the world, below)
$200 covers 25 tonnes of CO2 emission credits. This is very close to the emission reductions generated by 2 improved cook stoves over their 7 year projected life span. 2 TLC-CQC Rocket Stoves will save 2 households 70% of the amount fuel that they previously used in a three-stone fire. This fuel savings adds up to 51 metric tonnes of woody biomass (113,154 lbs) over 7 years. This means that women and children who are typically tasked with collecting firewood, no longer have to collect and carry this amount of fuel. The volume of fuel mass that is avoided is equivalent to 4 school buses or 40 medium sized US cars. The time that these people will save is ~202 hours/yr, and 118 12 hour days over 7 years! With this additional time and technology, it’s been shown that many of these women start businesses to provide additional income for their family. Additionally the children are able to spend more time pursuing primary educational studies.
Verified carbon offsets are a phenomenal way for our global community to help combat anthropogenic climate change. Offsets are a measurable, verifiable way to make a positive economic and health impact on the lives of people who aren’t so fortunate to have the means or opportunity to skydive. I think this is a great way to grow our community by creating new, albeit unlikely, connections that foster global kindness and peace, in a world that could use more of both.
Learn more about this program here.
Join me in building more bridges by spreading your environmentally sustainable stoke!
TRANSFORMATION CARBON™ PROJECTS
Our projects target poor communities around the world and provide a diverse range of social, environmental and health benefits. Unlike most other retail carbon offset platforms, we are not a middle man. We develop and implement our projects directly through our own subsidiaries or partnerships with on-the-ground organizations.
Distribution of ONIL Stoves in Guatemala
Location: Guatemala (Rural)
Duration: 2012 — present
Partner: HELPS International
Carbon Standard: United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) (PoA 8480), Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) (VCSR1335 & VCSR1338)
The majority of Guatemalan households continue to cook their meals in the traditional way — on a three-stone fire in an indoor pit. These open fires cause respiratory problems and burns, and because they are so inefficient, the high demand for fuel to supply them contributes to deforestation. We are working with HELPS International to use carbon finance to leverage market share of the high-efficiency ONIL cookstoves throughout Guatemala.
Distribution of ONIL Stoves — Mexico
Rural and indigenous people in Mexico have traditionally cooked their meals inside, using a three-stone fire. Today, the most disadvantaged households continue to use these open fires for cooking. They cause respiratory problems and burns, and because they are so inefficient, the high demand for fuel to supply them contributes to deforestation. We are working with our partner, Fuego Limpio, to provide high-efficiency plancha style cookstoves to families in rural Mexico.
Fuel Efficient Stoves in Malawi
The vast majority of the rural population in Malawi cook on highly inefficient, traditional three-stone fires, which are often located inside poorly-ventilated kitchens with tiny windows, if any. This not only causes severe household air pollution and chronic health problem; it limits economic productivity and leads to some of the highest deforestation rates in the world. We have partnered with Total Land Care to install fixed mud/brick stoves with high quality metal parts in poor rural households throughout Malawi.
Fuel Efficient Stoves in Rural Zambia
Location: Eastern Valley, Zambia (Rural)
Duration: 2013 — present
Partner: Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO)
Carbon Standard: United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) (PoA 8060), Climate Action Reserve (CAR)
In Zambia, we work with our on-the-ground partner Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) to help install the mud/brick stoves with high quality metal parts and half-wall kitchens that replace three-stone fires. The households that receive the clean and efficient cookstoves and half-wall ventilated kitchens live in rural villages and are at the very bottom of the pyramid. For the most part, they live outside the cash economy. Not only does a clean and efficient stove reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it produces a number of co-benefits for the users such as reduced time and drudgery collecting firewood, and reduced exposure to harmful cooking smoke.
Brighter Futures for Low-Income Households in India
Location: Various States in India
Duration: 2010 — present
Carbon Standard: United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) (PoA 3223)
Between 2010 and 2013, we worked with the Indian government to distribute over eight million long-life (10,000–12,000) specially made compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs to poor households in India to replace their inefficient incandescent light bulbs (ICL). The result was lower electricity bills, better quality lighting, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. A significant portion of the bulbs installed years ago continue to work today and continue to generate emission reductions.
Very poor families using incandescent bulbs (ICL) spend as much as 10% of their income on electricity in India. Through our Indian subsidiary we supplied high quality CFLs at a fraction of the retail price, which last 10–20 times longer and produce better light than ICL bulbs.
Average carbon footprint estimate math for a skydiver: A Twin Otter aircraft consumes ~86 gallons of jet fuel/hr. One gallon of burned jet fuel emits ~19 lbs CO2 into the atmosphere. 86 gallons * 19 lbs CO2 = 1,634 lbs CO2/hr. Using 20min as an approximate flight time for one load of skydivers, one load would emit ~545lbs CO2 emissions per flight. Using 20 people as an approximation for the average number of people per load, one skydiver would effectively be responsible for ~27lbs of CO2 emissions per skydive. If you think we can improve this math, let us know!