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Aspiration - providing sustainability as a service

PARTNER UPDATE. Since its beginnings a decade ago, Aspiration has pioneered the category of Sustainability as a Service for both individuals and businesses. Founded in 2013, the company has earned the trust of its over 7 million members by helping them spend, save, shop and more importantly invest with more sustainable practices in mind.
Now, as the newest partner of We Don’t Have Time, they’ll be leveraging their experience, expertise and know-how as a leader in this vital industry to share how their industry-breaking shift can and should be adopted by both businesses and individuals alike.
We sat down with their founder, Andrei Cherny, to learn why he decided to create an industry-challenging sustainability company, and to learn how they plan to leverage our social platform to drive change in industries and people worldwide.

”Our proprietary reforestation program has the goal to plant 1 billion trees by 2030”, says Aspiration's founder, Andrei Cherny.
”Our proprietary reforestation program has the goal to plant 1 billion trees by 2030”, says Aspiration's founder, Andrei Cherny.


For those who aren’t familiar with what you do, could you give a brief introduction to what Aspiration does and who you work with?
”Aspiration is the leading Sustainability as a Service platform enabling people and businesses to automate their sustainable impact and integrate it into their daily lives through banking.
Founded in 2013, Aspiration has earned the trust of our more than seven million members by helping them spend, save, shop, and invest in both “Do Well” and “Do Good.” In practice, this is manifested in a number of climate-friendly financial offerings for consumers, as well as opportunities for leading brands to achieve their net zero carbon goals through our investments in nature-based carbon offset projects around the world. This includes our proprietary reforestation program to deliver carbon removal at an unprecedented scale, with the goal to plant 1 billion trees by 2030.
In addition to the more than seven million consumer members of Aspiration, we partner with organizations including the LA Clippers, Boston Red Sox, Deloitte, Blue Apron, and Lime, among others to help broaden the range of stakeholders who are able to drive sustainability goals in line with our values.”

What inspired you to set up Aspiration?
”I've been engaged in the fight against the climate crisis since I was a young aide to then-Vice President Al Gore in the White House twenty-five years ago, as we grappled with what we were then calling "global warming."
Seeing the slow state of political changes and even across industries, I realized that Climate change isn’t waiting and the transition to a greener future is not happening fast enough.
Change has to happen from the bottom-up. We each have a personal, moral responsibility to do our part. Every day I see how many consumers express deep desires to combat the climate crisis, but who do not have a banking and investment option that supports these sentiments.
So, we set out to create the first financial firm with a conscience where everyday people could feel good about how and where they spend and invest their money.
We need to speed the largest, fastest shift in behavior in human history and we need more businesses like Aspiration that help everyday people spend and save their money in ways that help, not hurt, the planet.”

What internal policies or practices have you put in place to make Aspiration a climate-positive business (i.e. how do you practice what you preach?)
”Money has a powerful impact -- and the decisions you make every day on how to spend and save your dollars can either help fuel or fight the climate crisis.
The fossil fuel industry prioritizes short-term profits over long-term sustainability via opaque business practices that leave many of their consumers in the dark. Far too many of these institutions tell their customers that they care, yet still perpetuate business practices that ultimately harm us all in the long run, simply because they can sometimes quickly turn a profit.
At Aspiration, we set out to quite literally put our money where our mouth is, setting new standards for the financial services industry by incorporating these sustainability and climate fighting values into actionable steps for the average consumer and creating new possibilities for the industry.
Our Aspiration community – the seven million individual members of Aspiration as well as our hundreds of business partners – has funded the planting of 125 million trees in the past year and a half. This is, we believe, the largest private reforestation endeavor in the world.
We work with leading reforestation partners around the world, to plant native tree species that restore and protect biodiversity, enhance native ecosystems, and support local communities with good jobs, wages, and health benefits.”

What sort of tangible (climate/environmental) positive impacts do customers and businesses gain from working with Aspiration?
”For consumers, Aspiration offers checking and savings accounts, alongside credit cards that all contain sustainability features, including the option to round up every purchase to fund the planting of one tree. In 2021, we debuted our Aspiration Zero credit card, which can entirely offset the average user’s daily carbon footprint with just one swipe per day. With every purchase made, we plant one tree and give the customer the option to round up their purchase and plant another.
The card itself is made from recycled materials, not plastic, and allows customers to track their carbon footprint and the impact of their purchases on the environment, unlike any other credit card on the market.
On the enterprise front, Aspiration has announced several significant partnerships with major organizations over the past year to help them reach their climate goals in a number of ways. In the sports realm, we have partnered with the Los Angeles Clippers to build the first climate positive arena, and we are partnering with the Boston Red Sox to create the first carbon neutral baseball fan experience. We are supporting Lime and our joint program to support tree planting with every ride, as well as bringing reforestation initiatives to Deloitte.
We have also released a co-branded credit card with Blue Apron that includes the same features as the Aspiration Zero credit card. Through partnerships like these, we work with businesses to find ways to reduce their carbon footprints and take climate action in unique ways that reflect their individual values.
No business is without its stakeholders, and the beauty of what we do is that we’re not just able to service a climate-conscious community, or enable our own sustainable practices, we’re able to leverage our platform to help our partners do the same!”

Aspiration Zero credit card can entirely offset the average user’s daily carbon footprint with just one swipe per day.
Aspiration Zero credit card can entirely offset the average user’s daily carbon footprint with just one swipe per day.

What are your business goals going forward to see your climate-friendly policies through?
”One of our biggest goals is to plant 1 billion trees by 2030 through our proprietary reforestation program, Plant Your Change. Reforestation has proven to be one of the most cost-effective methods to fight climate change and capture carbon, but it is still underutilized throughout the world.
Tree planting offers long-term and low-maintenance solutions in comparison to most other carbon capture technologies. We are working with leading, verified reforestation partners around the world to ensure that our tree planting initiatives restore and protect biodiversity, enhance native ecosystems, and support local communities.
Currently, our tree planting operations are located around the world in countries such as Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, Honduras, Brazil, and the United States.”

People might look at you and think, why are they concerned about climate change more than, say, an energy company - could you explain a little about what role you see Aspiration playing in the climate crisis?
”We set out to build Aspiration with the idea of bringing actionable sustainability solutions to the everyday consumer. Although many Americans understand that climate change is a real issue, few have a grasp on what actions or first steps they could take to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Most of the solutions that we commonly think of first, such as electric vehicles or solar panels, are major decisions and expensive investments. Aspiration was founded to change that. By integrating the ability to fight climate change into people’s day to day spending and saving, Aspiration is putting automated climate action directly into the hands of consumers.
We are in the midst of a global transformation, one that necessitates the largest, fastest shift in human behavior in history as we move toward sustainability on an individual basis, across every business, and throughout society.”

What sort of visibility do you provide to your stakeholders to show the climate-positive impacts they and you are having through Aspiration?
”Aspiration was founded on the idea of bringing actionable sustainability solutions to the everyday consumer. Often, when most Americans think of ways to combat climate change and reduce their carbon footprint, many think about solutions like electric vehicles or solar panels, which are major decisions and expensive investments.
By creating a company with positive climate solutions in mind, we are providing an option for any consumer who believes that we are in a climate crisis to use their money to affect change through their everyday purchases and activities. In the face of alarming headlines describing the massive heatwaves, historic droughts, and increasingly intense storms that are caused by climate change, businesses have the responsibility to step up and contribute to this fight.
Those who think any organization should not care about climate change are ignoring the reality of the crisis we are currently facing.”

You’re attending the Sustainable Investment Forum North America at NYC Climate Week – what are the conversations you want to see discussed there?
”Our Chief Sustainability Officer Olivia Albrecht will be on the ground at Sustainable Investment Forum where we’re looking forward to discussing decarbonization from top to bottom and the case for carbon credits — from the state of the current market and the risks and incredible opportunities in the space, to a vision of what a net zero future could look like at scale.”

What motivated you to partner with We Don’t Have Time?
”We always look to work with like-minded organizations that are equally passionate and driven to move the needle on climate change. We Don’t Have Time is such a natural partnership fit for us to join forces and raise awareness about how people and businesses can have a positive impact on climate change.”

What excites you most about the platform?
”We Don’t Have Time brings together highly engaged people who genuinely care about making the planet a better place, which is the same core audience for us at Aspiration. We’re excited to be a part of this platform to share ideas, have meaningful conversations about the environment, and share more about our mission.”

How are you planning to use your climate dialogue page?
”Aspiration has a steady stream of exciting news and points of view that we’ll be sharing across the climate dialogue page. People can follow along to see the latest on new partnerships, discussions on how consumers can integrate sustainability into their daily lives more easily, or providing an update on our reforestation efforts and tree planting sites.”
  • Timothy Ndegwa

    77 w

    Interesting

    • Johannes Luiga

      81 w

      Very important !

      • Andreas Kōhler

        82 w

        So the job is to switch banks. Sadly this is an American banks so irrelevant to Europeans

        • Patrick Kiash

          83 w

          Very inspirational,indeed we need to plant our change and we need to do that like yesterday because we don't have time. Truly all of us we need to aspire to inspire before we expire and world is lucky to have a team like you aspiring to help it fight climate crisis with your great actions of solutions goals! Let's all together Keep it up.

          • Adam Wallin

            83 w

            Great to have such an experienced partner in sustainability for this week's event. We can make more change together!

            2
            • Sarah Chabane

              83 w

              Looking forward to learning more about Aspiration's mission during this week!

              1
              Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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