Jeremy Jones hiking up a snowy slop
(Photo: Andrew Miller)
Climate Neutral-ish

Here’s How Jeremy Jones Takes Climate Action Every Single Day

In his daily conversations, diet, business practices, and play time, Jones is always working for the planet

Andrew Miller

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Pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones thinks about climate change 100 times a day—that’s no exaggeration. As founder of Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit that focuses on legislative climate action, and Jones Snowboards, maker of boards, gear, and apparel, it’s his job. Jones also happens to be my cousin, and we’ve talked about environmentalism and sustainability our entire adult lives. But how does he translate those thoughts into actual, tangible, everyday deeds? I recently spoke to Jones about how he takes action for climate 365 days a year.

Constant Communication

Everyday actions and practices matter, but conversations, especially with people who might be in a different political camp as you, are key. A lot of people feel like they don’t belong to the climate movement because they recognize they contribute to the problem–maybe they fly a lot, raise cattle, or just love burgers, work for an oil or plastics company, or still buy bottled water by the case. This feeling of being on the outside is a huge problem. I don’t care what you do, we need you to join the climate movement. We need people from all sectors, political parties, regions, and backgrounds working together on this one unifying thing: the planet we all live on. Because climate change impacts all of us.

When I talk to people about climate change, I try to find common ground. Your political leanings don’t matter: if you love skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, hunting, or fishing, this affects you. If you love to go mountain biking, RVing, waterskiing, or camping with your kids, it affects you, too. Everyone needs to be welcome in this movement. Whether you drive a monster truck or a Tesla, we want you to be part of the conversation and the solution.

“Make your voice heard,” says Jones, who regularly lobbies in Washington, reaches out to lawmakers, and participates in climate rallies. (Photo: Ming Poon)

A Greener Business

We launched Jones Snowboards in 2010, and from the start we identified a three point North star: performance, durability, and sustainability. Being part of 1% For The Planet is key because we need more people that wake up every day working on climate action and our donation helps with that.

Three years ago we took a big step by moving away from toxic traditional epoxy resins (to hold the board components together). We finally found a bio-based resin (made from tree sap) that works every bit as good as the old stuff. It took a lot of trial and error.

Next winter we’ll take another big step, with a project that’s been six years in the making: turning old snowboards into new products, and keeping them out of the landfill. We developed a machine that pops the metal edges and inserts off old boards (for recycling). Then we stack boards on top of each other, press them together, and cut them into strips to create these really strong structural pieces we’ll use (instead of carbon fiber) to support power spots in new boards.

Plant-Based Diet

I hate dietary titles, but I’ve been embracing a vegan diet for over 10 years. I used to love a good burger, but I’ve lost the taste for it and this is the best lifestyle lever I can pull for the climate. The cattle industry accounts for 14.5 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions [according to the UN]. As a country, we eat way too much red meat. My plant-based diet has also made me a better athlete. I feel better at 48 than I did at 28. Years ago, I thought my snowboard career was waning, but when I switched to a plant-based diet, I felt way more spry and way less achy. I noticed less inflammation in my muscles and joints.

Voting With Dollars

Change takes longer than you think it will, but once it starts, it happens faster than you thought it could. Here’s an example, going back to the food idea: I was coming back from a snowboarding trip recently. It was late and we were driving through Bakersfield, California, (north of L.A) and we were starving. We found a random burger shack that was open and as we pulled in, I thought, ‘what am I gonna eat here.’ Turns out that place had awesome plant-based burgers and shakes. Even Burger King and MacDonald’s have plant-based options on the menus now. You would never have seen that a few years back. But people demanded it, and are voting for plant-based food with their dollars. And it’s changing. The same applies to the outdoor industry. Consumers are rewarding companies for making cleaner products and using their power to get us on a better path.

Reducing Emissions

We only have so much CO2 to burn and I think about my carbon emissions every day. I switched to an EV a couple years ago. I carpool to the mountain and the trailhead and ride my bike around town rather than drive. I recycle and avoid plastic. I’ve updated my house with solar panels, a heat pump, better insulation, more efficient appliances, all of which gave me huge energy savings. And I only get on a plane when I really have to. I take fewer, longer, slower trips now. The majority of my adventuring takes place here in the Sierra, my back yard, and I’ve cut my air travel by about 90 percent over the last 15 years.. It stung a bit at first losing my frequent flier benefits, but I’m over it and now I’m happy sitting in the back and traveling less. Pro tip for others who have recently lost airline status: Board last and ask if they can bump you up to a better seat or an empty row (poor man’s first class).

Kristin Hostetter is the Head of Sustainability at Outside Interactive, Inc. and the resident sustainability columnist on Outside Online