I have an energy monitor hooked up to our electrical panel. It tells me how much power every appliance and system in our home uses, and I loooove it. I hawk its app like it’s about to spit out Taylor Swift tickets (for my daughter, of course), and a couple months back I noticed something: Our well pump was a surprisingly visible electrical consumer. I had never thought of water use as an electrical issue. Maybe there was an opportunity to save some watts?! ⚡️💡
So I cut my showering frequency in half (I’m so sorry, Christine), and started tracking the difference in how much power we used. Climate-action drumroll, please.
The experiment reduced my pump’s tab from 1.7% of our monthly power consumption to…1.6%. And since only 15% of the country gets its water from wells, the opportunity for savings at scale looked petite.
I couldn’t let it go. I started calling academics to see if there was some co-benefit—maybe to the skin microbiome?—that could amplify the small power savings. Nope: “The amount of microbial DNA on skin is generally low as compared to what’s in the mouth or the gut,” said Heidi Kong, senior investigator, Dermatology Branch at the National Institutes of Health.
I crunched numbers on the benefits of reducing the amount of soap and shampoo you use, but it’s far more effective to just shop at refill stores and use products that aren’t plastic bottles full of water. I was chasing a dud story.
So I closed the tabs, returned the last few outstanding emails, and buried the draft in my Google Docs graveyard. Corinne and I debriefed and realized with some horror that one5c was on the verge of feeling inconsequential, our greatest fear. So we slammed down the storm shutters, sent the newsletter on a monthlong vacation, and used the time we would’ve spent writing to rethink what we email you.
Welcome to the new one5c. Don’t worry, this is still a weekly email about individual climate action. But it’s not just Joe’s weekly email about individual climate action anymore. I will still contribute stories, but the all-anecdote-driven research project isn’t hitting as hard 59 newsletters in.
Good news: We have a Corinne.
I begged Corinne to become one5c’s editor-in-chief because, in addition to being a brilliant journalist and passionate environmentalist, she is one of the all-time great editorial packagers. Packaging is the art of taking a topic and turning it into a story, custom-fit for the platform it’s on and the audience that consumes it. In other words, the exact skill you need to take a very important subject delivered via a very personal medium and keep it from getting floppy.
Corinne’s plan for one5c builds on what we do well: accessible, credible, emissions-obsessed solutions that are rooted in data. Accepting that the weekly narrative-with-a-message was wearing thin, she created a rotation of easy-to-digest, high-impact recurring story types: from profiles to success stories to quick tips.
This refreshed one5c will never bore you. We’re also going to do a better job of curating other people’s work—because the climate emergency is an all-hands-on-deck situation. (If you’re reading something good, please share it with us.) In fact, you can expect a small curation of noteworthy stories at the end of every one5c newsletter. Starting with this one.
Earth-friendly eats: The perennial wheat cousin that could be great news for farming—and dessert
Friend of The Bean Caroline Saunders over at Pale Blue Tart has a fascinating newsletter this week about Kernza, a perennial grain that has real promise for bakers and farmers alike. Perennial grains are potentially huge for sustainable agriculture, because you don’t have to replant them every year. This could net huge fuel savings. Probably tastes like old Birkenstock sole, though, right? Nope. Try: “Honey, cinnamon, maple syrup, nuts, vanilla, butterscotch, almond extract, brown butter.” You gotta check this stuff out.
Good read: A super nerdy deep-dive on EV chargers
The global EV market is exploding—from around 4% in 2020 to a forecasted 18% in 2023. And the simple truth of buying an EV is that you’re not just buying a car, you’re buying the charging network. John Voelcker is one of my favorite EV writers, and he wrote a great series about the past, present, and future of the American charging network. It’s a must-read for anyone who is considering buying a new electric vehicle.
#winning: Battery plant replaces steel mill
Steel production is responsible for around 7 to 9% of global CO2 emissions, and advanced battery storage is a must-have for the clean energy transition. Those simple realities are what make this story so chop-lickingly good. Form Energy, which makes a new kind of battery that uses iron instead of lithium, is reportedly spending $760 million to stand up its new plant in an old steel mill in the heart of coal country: Weirton, West Virginia. The company claims this factory will create 750 permanent local jobs, and that it was made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act. Oh hellllllllllll yeah.
So that’s it! Please keep the feedback coming. This is your newsletter, and we want to make sure it makes you happy.
Take care of yourself—and the rest of us, too.