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Weekend Agenda: Considering Environmental Footprints with Pro Beach Volleyball Player, Jeremy Casebeer

It doesn't take long to feel inspired by Jeremy Casebeer. Whether you're an athlete looking for inspiration or consumer shifting to more sustainable shopping habits, Jeremy's commitment to and passion for stewarding our environment is humbling.

Jeremy is leading the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP)'s first ever Climate Action Plan with the goal of certifying the AVP as the first professional sports league as Climate Neutral. 

We invite you to read more about Jeremy's journey from outdoorsman to athlete to advocate. While you're taking inventory of your own impact, we invite you to explore our limited edition Earth Month Collection. This carbon neutral drinkware is inspired by nature's seasonality and celebrates our Climate Neutral recertification. 5% of all sales goes to The Conservation Alliance's environmental work.

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One day, I came to a rude awakening about my impact. I realized how much my love for nature and the required travel for my career as an athlete was at odds. 

I grew up in California and loved being outdoors hiking, surfing, and camping as a kid. I got so much out of my time in nature and have been looking for ways to return the favor. 

I play beach volleyball professionally and have been fortunate to spend more time at the beach than just about anywhere else. I also have family in Rio de Janeiro and spend my offseason competing on the Brasilian tour. As an athlete, I have to travel for tournaments to compete and make a living. Not surprisingly, these flights add up. 

It wasn’t until I went back to UCLA to study sustainability and measured my carbon footprint as my first assignment that I realized just how much they add up. Reality sunk in. 

When I took a good hard look at my impact on our planet, I was disappointed in myself. I was far from living a ‘sustainable’ life. 

I geek out on sustainability—reading books and white papers, listening to podcasts, and trying to learn from experts. I knew that Americans have one of the largest footprints in the world, and that flying emits tons of carbon, but somehow my brain conveniently let me ignore this fact.

After a moderate existential moral crisis, I realized that there was a disconnect between my good intentions, my actions, and the resulting impacts. 

I wanted to act immediately, but I didn’t know where to begin. That was frustrating but necessary. I began to understand just how much I had to learn. I took a deep dive and became obsessed with three questions:

1. What is my impact?

2. What can I do about it?

3. How can I amplify and scale positive outcomes and solutions?

    I started by researching my personal impacts on the environment. Of all the things I could do, what would really make a difference? What people and organizations were leading the way on climate solutions? 

    Project Drawdown is the world’s leading resource for climate solutions. ‘Drawdown’ is the point in time when emissions in the atmosphere stop climbing and steadily decline. This is the goal with climate action, reaching Drawdown is how we stop climate change. Through Project Drawdown I came across Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist, and a remarkable communicator. She explains that talking about climate change is one of the most impactful actions we can take. If we don’t talk about something why would we care about it? If we don’t care about it, why would we act? So action begins with conversation. 

    Dr. Hayhoe also speaks about finding common ground through shared values and focusing on solutions rather than gloom and doom. Climate change affects every person and every environment, some people just haven’t connected the dots yet. Do you care about the local economy, health, outdoor recreation? We can also shift the narrative from negative messaging –– stop flying, stop eating meat, etc. To focus on solutions that are ‘positive, beneficial, do-able solutions’. Let’s scale solutions that help us travel, eat, and live better, not worse. 

    Learning from Project Drawdown, Dr. Hayhoe and others, I knew I wanted to have an impact beyond my own actions but felt it was important to get my own house in order first. I began measuring, reducing, and offsetting my own carbon footprint. I shifted towards a plant-based diet. I switched to a B Corp bank that never invests in fossil fuels and donates 10% of revenue to charities. I also learned that third-party certifications like Climate Neutral, B Corp, and 1% for the Planet require transparency and real action from businesses to earn certification. That is how you know a business does what they say they do. 

    I began looking for organizations doing strong work that I could support. I became a collaborator with Parley for the Oceans, which works to raise awareness and collaborate on projects that can end the destruction of the oceans. I also became an ambassador for the Forest Stewardship Council, which is a certification focused on sustainable forest management. 

    It’s impossible to think of beach volleyball without thinking about our oceans and beaches. Beach volleyball players live, play, and work at the beach. This year I am leading the AVP Tour’s first Climate Action Plan. I am damn excited that the AVP will measure, reduce and offset all of its emissions and become the first professional sports league to be Climate Neutral Certified. 

    My hope with the AVP Climate Action Plan is that it will set best practices that can be applied throughout the sport of beach volleyball. Beach volleyball is the fastest growing sport in college athletics, and there are thousands of juniors tournaments throughout the US each year. Even a small action at that scale, like a beach cleanup before and after each tournament, can lead to a big impact.

     

    I’m also launching a podcast called ‘Our Impact’ where I speak to leading nonprofits, academics, athletes, and responsible business leaders to learn what our impact is, what we can do about it, and how to scale positive outcomes and solutions. 

    The hardest part for me was knowing where to begin and what real impact meant. That was the reason I was drawn to MiiR. Impact is a core value, it's not just words on social media. MiiR has taken transparent action to become Climate Neutral, B Corp, and 1% for the Planet Certified. 

    Every product sold helps fund trackable giving projects. To date over $1.6 million dollars have been given to 71 projects in 26 countries focused on clean water, a healthy environment, and strong communities! By putting a code on every product, MiiR makes it easy for people to begin their impact journey. 

    While I’ve made some changes in my life, I am still very much on my impact journey. I’ve tried to align my actions with my values, but it's an ongoing process. It’s been overwhelming and confusing at times. Like most things, getting started can be the most difficult part. Once I began to learn more, and take the first small actions there was momentum and more hope. Over time I learned there is no perfectly ‘sustainable’ life, we all have impacts, both positive and negative. But, if we focus on solutions and positive outcomes our individual actions can scale to create real change.

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