This story originally appeared in the October 2014 Issue of Transworld Snowboarding and has been updated with photos. Subscribe here.
John J may be about going big on his board but when it comes to the environment, he’s working on dialing his footprint back, making a smaller impact one step at time. That’s not easy considering his globetrotting ways, and he knows it.—Gerhard Gross
“The environment is everything to me, the mountains are everything to me, ya know? That’s where I go to be happy, that’s where I go to learn, that’s where I go to push myself. We should treat the environment with care. I think right now we’ve gotta be conscious of trying to turn the ship around.
“Obvious signs of climate change are things like the Tahoe backcountry and Eastern Sierras getting very little snow. That’s where I live right now, and snowpack just seems like it’s getting shallower by the year. It’s pretty obvious we’re in a drought and there’s a shortage of water. We just drove by New Melones Lake going up to Bear Valley, and it was incredibly low. It was just terrifying to see the level of water there. I think our usage of water exceeds the ability to replenish.
“To be honest, I still contribute. Being a professional snowboarder, I ride snowmobiles—have a turbo in my snowmobile—I go on heli trips, and I drive a truck to get my snowmobile to the spot. But I am aware of what’s going on and I am trying to make a difference. I have a smaller car for when I’m not using my truck, which I never used to. And when I’m down in LA I pretty much never drive. I’m pretty conscious about recycling and saving things. We save everything in Tupperware; we hardly ever buy plastic wrap or bags. I have a garden at my house and we go to the farmers market all the time. And circling back to the water, I really try to conserve with everything I do whether it’s taking a shower or taking a piss. If I have the opportunity to take a piss outside I will. [laughs] Otherwise we follow the old ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow rule.’ I want to turn my place into solar. My place has adequate sunlight all day and I could easily do that. I’m looking into a hydro system, too, because I’m right by the river.
“Like I said, I’m not the perfect example of someone who has no carbon footprint. I don’t think the goal is to completely cut off everything. Just creating awareness is important, while taking little steps. I’m really interested in teaming up with the people who are creating the solutions that are gonna fix our problems.”