When Christopher Gronbeck says he's been "training," one is never quite sure if he means he's been honing a new skill or has just crisscrossed the states on Amtrak. Over the past decade he's been determinedly shrinking his greenhouse gas emissions by bicycling and walking as much as possible rather than driving, and by taking trains and communicating over the Internet rather than flying.
It may, and often does, take longer to travel by train, but what he loses in speedy arrivals he more than gains in time to read, write, sightsee, converse, and be creative. Christopher lives in Seattle, and is a software programmer and Internet web designer. He works out of his home, and though he doesn't own a car, he recently joined Seattle's ingenious car sharing program, called FlexCar, which enables him to have occasional and inexpensive access to an automobile without needing to bear the financial burdens of maintenance and insurance.
Since Christopher graduated from Stanford a decade ago, he has been putting into practice the kinds of lifestyle choices that give him a strong sense of well-being, and that at the same time cut his level of consumption and waste to a fraction of that incurred by most Americans.
When he's not working, you're likely to find Christopher in his backyard garden raising modest amounts of organic food. He has become a first rate cook, producing international meals from Vegan (plant-based) recipes. While he adopted the animal-free diet for ethical reasons, it also happens to require some 90 percent less land, water and energy to grow and process than the conventional U.S. diet. (For more about Vegan diets see http://www.vegan.org.
He lives with his girlfriend in a modest two-bedroom home. Here again, he is going against the current trend, in which residential space per capita has doubled compared to 1970 levels.
As well as being a software and web designer, Christopher is also an expert on solar energy systems. While many of his friends and colleagues went on to make quick fortunes in the dot.com world, Christopher chose to apply his talents to developing Internet and CD-ROM-based interactive multimedia tools for non-profit organizations, to help achieve a climate friendly and sustainable economy. He co-founded the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology, an award-winning Internet site, and helped devise many innovative software programs, like the Greening of the White House, the Green Building Advisor and the photovoltaic design tool, Solar Sizer. He subsequently founded the firm of Sustainable By Design,which involves free distribution of solar calculator tools.
Christopher's commitment to showing how Internet tools can facilitate support for a solar-powered future should result in good for generations to come. Meanwhile, the lifestyle choices he's made show how individuals can reap rich personal rewards while treading lightly on the planet.