Changing your default settings

I once read an interview with a man who, every so often, got into bed upside down. He slipped his PJs on, put his pillow where his feet normally go and slept the wrong way around…

Weird, right? But this image really stuck with me. Because he did it to change perspective, shake up his brain a little, freshen his ideas, override those default settings that keep us doing the same things over and over again…

And here we are in January; in our hemisphere and our western calendar, it’s the point at which we take time to plan for the future and make resolutions to try and improve our lifestyle, our health and our habits.

We try and change our default settings for a positive outcome.

From private to public

Many of us will be adding ‘eco-friendly’ habits to our new year’s resolutions lists, whether that’s avoiding single-use plastic packaging, ordering our flat white in a reuseable coffee cup, or – like some of our partners here in the Alps – leaving the car keys at home and taking the bus to work.

A car carrying one person emits 40kg of CO2 per 100 passenger miles, while a full bus emits only 6kg per person over the same distance. Which, when you think about the journeys to and from work that are made over the course of a week, a month, a year… by 1 person, 5 people, 100 people, 1,000… it all adds up.

A little difference each day can have a big impact over the year.

Leading the way

Ski instructor Rob Watson, part of the One Tree team, has committed to using public transport – the free buses and the ski lifts – to meet his clients.

He is proud to report that: “each day I work on the mountain I am planting 100 trees in Africa, and over the entire season this will lead to the planting of an entire forest compiling of 10,000 trees.”

That’s pretty impressive, right? It’s easily done with a little planning, it costs him an awful lot less in fuel and car maintenance, and not only is he planting trees in the process, but he’s also telling his clients about it and spreading the good word. And if just one of his clients changes their default settings and decides to take public transport to work as well, then that’s doubling the effect.

Another instructor, Mark Birch, has made a similar commitment: “Lift sharing with my neighbours and making better use of the new and improved lift systems is allowing me to improve the way I
move around resort to reduce my impact.”

Great stuff. Mark also reminds us of the importance of maintaining a vehicle in order to reduce emissions, ensuring tyres are correctly inflated, not transporting unnecessary weight and clearing snow off of the roof are all ways to get those emissions lower.

Making tracks

How are Rob and Mark’s clients getting to resort in the first place? Well, more and more skiers and snowboarders are choosing the train over air travel, especially with easy links from London and the thought of getting an extra day’s skiing on a week’s holiday.

A fantastically useful resource for newbies to train travel is Snow Carbon, founded by Daniel Elkan in 2009.

With journey planners, videos and top tips – eg. ‘how to change in Paris’ all in English, there’s no excuse for changing your default when searching for travel options from Easyjet to

Daniel says:

“In 2007 a study by French government agency ADEME and charity Mountain Riders found that 73% of the total carbon emissions of a typical ski resort result from transport of holidaymakers to the resort. A later study in 2011 estimated it at 64%. Either way, it’s a huge chunk – and shows how important your choice of transport method is.”

Skiers and boarders – it’s time to change those defaults!

In it for the long haul

Resolutions aren’t always easy to keep.

So take the long view. Be kind to yourself. Of course if you’re running really late or have something heavy to transport then you can override the default and grab the car keys. No-one is going to punish you! The point is that you have changed your default settings and have committed to not just a week, a month or a year of changing your transport habits, but a lifetime.

But maybe a couple of weeks will pass and you’ve been revving up that engine a little too often… How to reset that default setting? It’s time to get a fresh perspective again, so simply put your pillow where your feet should be and get into bed the wrong way around!