Why Colin Kaepernick is joining Commons
Athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick has joined the Advisory Board of climate app Commons, which helps people make spending choices that save them money while lowering emissions.
Today, I’m excited to announce that Colin Kaepernick has joined Commons as a strategic advisor, to help millions of people take climate action in their daily lives. As an advisor, Kaepernick will provide strategic and marketing guidance to help Commons serve a broad, diverse group of Americans. He is also using the app personally to take climate action.
Since I started Commons, climate events have gotten increasingly severe. But sustainable living still isn’t as accessible as it should be.
2023 has been the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.
New polls indicate that more people than ever – 72% of Americans – are concerned about climate change. And key climate solutions – from plant-based proteins to electric vehicles – are becoming increasingly cost-efficient as they become more popular.
But many of them are still major expenses or hard to understand, out of reach for the average American. I started Commons with the mission to make it easy for people to tap into the power of their spending choices to create a more sustainable world.
Climate Action is Critical: A Q&A with Colin Kaepernick
I sat down with Colin to discuss why he’s joining Commons and why he believes this is a critical moment to engage Americans in climate action.
Sanchali: Colin, we’re thrilled to have you on board as an advisor. You rose to prominence first as a star in the NFL, in our own backyard as the 49ers quarterback. Then, as an activist, you spoke up for racial justice and civil rights. Why does climate action matter to you?
Colin: In 2016, I became vegan in part because of the environmental impact animal agriculture has on our planet. As part of that journey, I learned about the disproportionate impact the climate crisis has on Black and Brown communities.
Climate justice is deeply intertwined with racial and social justice. The climate crisis is threatening people across America – and having a disproportionately high effect on Black and Brown folks. There is no racial justice without climate justice.
Everyone has a right to live in a safe, healthy environment, free from fear of climate harm. But people of color are hardest hit by natural disasters, live closer to polluting industries and hazardous waste sites, and have the fewest resources to adapt to changing climates.
Sanchali: I also started my climate journey after becoming aware of the environmental impacts of our industrial food systems. When I was a senior in college studying economics, back in 2012, I saw the documentary Food, Inc., and that sparked the start of my climate journey.
It struck me – I’m studying our economic systems at a macro level. But the sum of our individual choices is resulting in systems I don’t agree with. Are there choices I can make, that we all can make, that will actually make a difference?
Today, more people than ever before are asking that question. What do you say to someone who says they don’t think their choices matter?
Colin: People say one person can’t make a difference. But I’ve seen in my own career that our choices and our voices do matter. When we act together, we can change the course of history.
Sanchali: You’ve proven that.
Colin: But when it comes to the climate crisis, people check out because they feel helpless. They don’t know what to do.
That’s why I was drawn to Commons. It makes it easy, gives you clear actions, and now even pays you to live sustainably.
Sanchali: People think they don’t know how or can’t make a difference. But if you spend money, you’re already making climate choices.
Our household spending influences over 60% of global emissions. So we’re making an average of two to three climate choices a day. And these choices – from clothes to food and holiday travel – add up. When we shift our choices, we collectively can have a massive, rapid positive impact on the environment.
But it’s not all up to us. Effective government policy is critical. It can unlock the incentives and investment we need to scale up environmental infrastructure. How do you think about where responsibility lies? Do companies have a role to play in all this?
Colin: Companies have a huge responsibility to reduce emissions. When it comes to climate, a lot of companies talk a big game. But not all of them walk the walk. As consumers, we can use our dollars to support companies who are taking real, measurable steps to lower emissions.
Sanchali: So about that – when it comes to buying sustainably, people might have an impression that it’ll be expensive, that they’ll have to sacrifice their quality of life, or buy low-quality products.
But what I’ve discovered is that as I’ve started to spend more intentionally, I save money, and I’m happier, healthier, and more connected to my community.
How do you think about the connection between financial health and environmental health?
Colin: We need to lead with people's primary concerns – their personal finances. Sustainable action wins when we make it easy. And we need it to make financial sense for us, too.
People don't realize how connected their financial decisions are to living sustainably. Examining this is a good place to start, and using Commons to organize that thinking and knowing where to start making changes is where I would suggest anyone to begin.
Commons helps you save money and save carbon
In 2022, Commons users lowered their emissions by 20% and saved about $200 a month. If everyone in the U.S. did that, we’d have an impact like taking two-thirds of all cars off the road.
If you want to go fully climate neutral, the app makes it easy to offset everything you buy with vetted carbon solutions.
Commons has raised Series A funding, and is backed by Sequoia Capital, the founders of Headspace, Fitbit, and Nest, and climate investors including Norrsken VC. Commons is headquartered in Oakland, CA.
The app was originally released under the name Joro in April 2020, and relaunched as Commons in March 2023.
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