Jack Bruner, Co-Founder of The Carbon Neutral Club shares his story on working to make climate change accessible to everyone.
Meet Jack, the co-founder of the Carbon Neutral Club.
Jack studied political science and economics in university, and while he thoroughly enjoyed his studies he always knew he wanted to find a way to intersect his career and his passion, climate change. While in university Jack started a business called Well Done BBQ’s a BBQ cleaning and restoration business that aimed to clean BBQ’s with environmentally friendly products and restore BBQ’s to prevent them ending up in the landfills and having homeowners purchase new ones each summer. Jack quickly saw how successful they became through leveraging a digital first business model in an environment where their competitors weren't. He knew he didn't want to continue in that line of work, but he knew he wanted to make an impact on the world using digital products as a way of accessing a large audience to enact change in some way.
He left Well Done BBQ’s to pursue a career in product management and has spent the last seven years as a product manager in various roles and capacities in a consulting environment.
The last client he had was a large management consulting company that had a really progressive approach to using data to evolve the way that they thought about delivering their work and the human impact of that work. Jack says this really pushed him forward to use his skills as a product manager to build digital solutions that can reach large numbers of people to solve the biggest problem of our time, climate change. So, he quit his job and never looked back.
How did the carbon neutral club come to be?
"85% of people want to reduce their climate impact but only 20% have done anything about that" - Jack Bruner
The Carbon Neutral Club came to be through a series of ideas brought together by the co-founders, Jack Bruner and Jeff Packer. Jack has always been engaged with climate crisis issues and sustainability on a personal level. The theory of the company started for him in 2016 when he realized he wanted to find a way to intersect his career and his passions. He wanted to find a way to make carbon offsetting a norm for people, in an approachable and realistic way. The idea originally started as an app that could measure and offset your carbon footprint, and that was a novel idea at the time. In 2016 carbon offsetting was a thing people were not as familiar with as they are today. However, Jack felt the value chain was not complete with this initial idea, and was too close to a charitable donation; he wouldn't be able to build and scale a business in that way while having a big enough impact on the problem for it to be worth the efforts. Fast forward a few years, Jack met with his friend Jeff Packer and now co-founder of Carbon Neutral Club to catch up and they got talking about climate change, as it is a passion that they share. Jack shared that he had recently read a statistic that said “ 85% of people want to reduce their climate impact but only 20% have done anything about that” and that was super frustrating information for them to find. The Covid-19 pandemic had just hit and they both were presented with an abundance of free time, which allowed them the time to deep dive into data validation and research surrounding climate change and people's perceptions surrounding the topic. They came to learn that people aren’t acting on climate change for two main reasons:
- People don’t know where to start
- People associate having a sustainable lifestyle with spending more money, and they believe they cannot afford a sustainable lifestyle.
Jack describes the The Carbon Neutral Club concept as an epiphany moment where he and Jeff were able to intersect their business ideas. With Jack's app idea and Jeff’s idea that value-aligned brands and businesses should come together to solve a collective problem. The idea came together very quickly, and they took off into months of planning at a granular level.
What is the Carbon Neutral Club?
The Carbon Neutral Club’s mission is to make personal climate action accessible to everyone. They believe that real change happens when good people rally around a problem that is worth solving. The Carbon Neutral Club was started to mobilize a community of like-minded people and sustainable businesses, that together, can build a cleaner future and be rewarded along the way.
Through The Carbon Neutral Club you can fight climate change in minutes by estimating and offsetting your carbon footprint. A membership offsets your carbon footprint by funding verified projects that conserve forests and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels as well as gives you access to discounts at brands that are leading the charge in adopting sustainable business practices. The Carbon Neutral Club membership gains you access to discounts at over 60 companies that work to reduce climate change and have sustainability in the brand DNA. For example, you will receive 20% of everything at TenTree and Three Ships, 25% off everything at Ecologyst, and so many more amazing brands!
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"What we are trying to do with that interest is have it translate into action." - Jack Bruner
The Carbon Neutral Club is eyes wide open to the fact that we live in a capitalistic society, which is why they use education and financial incentives to help translate interest into action. Capitalism works very well when the incentive model is aligned however Jack explains he feels it has been very misaligned for a few decades now. The Carbon Neutral Club aims to show there is a clear financial incentive to funnel your monthly required spending into more sustainable practices. Whether it be on coffee, a new sweatshirt or socks with holes you need to replace, buying through companies that are sustainable and produce high quality products that in the long run will save you money.
The Carbon Neutral Club sits at a really powerful and interesting intersection of climate action and company culture. We have seen through the last two years what has been named as the Great Reshuffle, triggered by the pandemic shaking up the world. Millions of people have left their jobs in search of more fulfilling roles, whether that be greater flexibility, or moving to companies that are more value aligned and have a shared identity and respect for their lives outside of work. People are thinking progressively about the type of companies they want to both work for and work with now more than ever. This trend of embedding climate into an employee experience is just an example of the change that we are seeing, people picking up and shifting and moving, finding their value and their power. It is going to have a really powerful impact on the climate crisis from the bottom up as people push back and create the demand for values driven company culture and climate action.
How does Shift use The Carbon Neutral Club?
Shift as a company remains committed to sustainability, and to continue to work with brands with more sustainable business practices. Shift was so inspired by the work that The Carbon Neutral Club is doing that we signed up our entire team! Shift loved their mission to make climate action accessible for everyone, and knew right away we needed to be a part of this change. It has been so fun for us as a team to come together to estimate our carbon footprints and create challenges to offset this footprint. Each of our memberships offsets our carbon footprint by funding verified projects that conserve forests and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Each month each employee is sent their monthly impact report as a reminder of how we are contributing to a cleaner future. It will look something like this below, it is a fun and easy way to have employees share and compare their progress coming together to work towards a common goal.
Check out the Shift team in their new Anian jackets! Anian is one of the many amazing companies that is partnered with The Carbon Neutral Club and we are loving our custom, sustainable jackets!!
What are some realistic and practical ways you can make a difference regarding climate change?
As mentioned previously, Jack and Jeff found that one of the key reasons people aren't taking action regarding climate change is that people simply do not know where to start.
"Progress over perfection, you can't expect everyone to have a perfect climate scenario, we should all be helping one another make incremental change." - Jack Bruner
Jack explains that the most important thing you can do to reduce your overall consumption is to find opportunities to either not make a purchase, make a second hand purchase, or choose to support a business in an industry who has chosen to come to market, offer goods and services with sustainability as a core component of their DNA. By doing so you are evolving that industry's thinking and voting with your dollar. You can find more easy and fun ways to reduce your carbon footprint The Carbon Neutral Clubs article 8 ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Second, finding and supporting frontier carbon removal projects that are on the forefront of combating the long term emissions problem that is climate change.
"The narrative generally is fear driven, news scare tactics and people don't respond to that. Carbon Neutral Club aims to be positive, helpful and that we are in this together." - Jack Bruner
Q: What is the best piece of professional advice you've received?
A: Passion is really important. If you want to be exceptional and want to have a fulfilled career, chase things that are interesting to you. Rather than what's going to leap frog you, or put more money in your bank account because that will come if you're good at what you do and you're excited about what you do and you're engaged with it. Avoid the draw for the cash early on. Go to things that really excite you and draw you in.
One of the best pieces of advice I have received is “a no is one step closer to your yes.” That really resonated with me, keep up your hardwork and the yeses are out there, and to remember I am now one step closer. Appreciating that no, now you've ruled them out and you can move forward to the ones who are right.
Q: What is your greatest piece of advice for an aspiring leader?
A: What helped me and my team get through the early days and stages that can be really tough is having a great culture amongst the team. Open communication, direct feedback, and supportive nature to your founding team. You are the foundation for the culture that gets built above you and all the people that actually make your business successful, because most of the work won't actually be done by you.
Q: What do you do to find work life balance?
A: Instead of calling it work life balance, I like to just call it balance. How can we support one another having balance? Work is just one input to a healthy, successful, fulfilled human life. It is important to do challenging work but it can't come at the cost of the inputs to your healthy life. For me, it revolves directly around diet, exercise and sleep. If any of those cycles get thrown off then I become imbalanced. I also work really hard to not work after work. No email when I get home, I effectively have no connection to work after 5-6pm, and creative output. I love photography, reading, and writing, those are my vices and I carve out time for them after work hours.
Q: How do you help boost your productivity?
A: Headspace, is a huge anchor in my life, they help from a cognitive overload perspective. I use them when the threshold is being reached. With constant screens and context switching, just remembering to pull back for a ten minute meditation session, and that really helps with my productivity.
Q: What's a book or podcast you'd recommend to a colleague?
A: The Day the World Stopped Shopping. It is an amazing book connecting the dots on how sustainability and consumerism conflict and intersect with one another. As for podcasts, Wisdom From the Top is a must listen to.