Locally based Carbon Bootcamp promotes reduction strategies

Increase your energy fitness. Build your bicycling muscle. Eat your veggies. These are just a few ways you can reduce your carbon footprint through the new Carbon Bootcamp program.

GreenTown Los Altos is partnering with Carbon Bootcamp to sponsor the first 300 residents who sign up for the program. Participants will receive gear, support and real-time encouragement at no cost.

“We have chosen the simplest, easiest and most impactful choices that people can make each day to limit their carbon footprint and therefore climate change, and we have bundled them into an experience that users can engage with on their own time, at their own pace,” said Carbon Bootcamp co-creator Anna Michalak, a Los Altos resident.

Homes in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills and in parts of Mountain View (94040 and 94041 ZIP codes) are eligible for the program.

In an effort to make it convenient for people with busy schedules and summer travel, GreenTown is offering different start dates for the Bootcamp, in July August and September.

The six-week bootcamp consists of three modules: home energy use, transportation and food, each of which has an impact on a person’s carbon footprint.

At the start of each module, users receive boxes filled with gear and challenges, are guided through a text-messaging platform and engage by texting code words for low-carbon choices they’ve made on a given day or by sending photos of challenges fulfilled.

Michalak is a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University. She and her co-founder, Zaven Arra, developed the program, combining their expertise in climate science with a light-touch interactive approach.

While the climate problem is undoubtedly complex, individuals can collectively have a huge positive impact. Both Michalak and Arra employ a practical, “boots on the ground” approach, so Carbon Bootcamp was designed to encourage small shifts in behavior. Science and psychology suggest that small steps, when successful, often lead to bigger steps. That’s what Michalak and Arra are banking on.

Beta test

Earlier this year, Michalak and Arra ran a beta test of Carbon Bootcamp with 100 people from around the Bay Area.

“The enthusiasm of our beta participants blew us away and really demonstrated that our idea could work at the larger scale we were imagining,” Arra said.

The beta test taught Michalak and Arra that people are looking for ways to contribute but are overwhelmed by information coming from too many sources.

“There’s value in cutting through the noise,” Arra noted. “When you make it easy and fun to make impactful choices and reinforce them in real time, good habits really stick.”

According to Dr. Jen Hsia, an obstetrician from Los Altos Hills who participated in the beta test, the time commitment was manageable.

“If I can find the time, anyone can,” she said.

  GreenTown board member Cheryl Weiden was also part of the beta test. Although initially skeptical, Weiden became a Carbon Bootcamp evangelist.

“The program is just so much fun,” she said. “There is just no better way to engage people in addressing the most pressing issue of our time.”

Weiden’s enthusiasm and the findings from the beta test prompted the GreenTown board to support a broader expansion of Carbon Bootcamp.

To sign up, text the word “carbon” to “474747.”

For more information, visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Margie Suozzo is co-founder of GreenTown Los Altos.

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