Athletes from across the North American sporting landscape have donated their jerseys to raise money to reduce climate impact in Kenya and increase safe drinking water.
The Global Jersey Exchange, devised by sport and sustainable development organisation Underdogs United, has seen athletes from the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Canada’s Olympic team give their jerseys to be auctioned off, with the proceeds going towards the safe drinking water partners.
Funds also go towards climate development and sustainability projects in the East African nation. A small proportion of the money will be used to pay local tailors to make a custom jersey for the athletes that donated.
“We’ve been reaching out to agents, customising pitches. But it’s a pretty small ask for an athlete to send a jersey,” Underdogs United co-founder Stephen Gabauer told SSJ. “In return we’re offering physical interaction – athletes are excited by the idea that they’ll be able to get a really meaningful jersey made specifically for them.”
Gabauer, who previously spent years on sustainability planning within the golf industry, said that Underdogs United was working with organisations in the “very rigorous” Gold Standard Foundation on projects that focus mainly on reducing carbon emissions and sustainable development goals.
Many projects, he added, fulfilled both criteria, such as the water purification initiative that “not only reduces deforestation, but also has a life-changing impact”.
The other side of Underdogs’ business is consulting brands – primarily in the sport sector – on how they can enhance their sustainability credentials.
“We’ve been working in the fields of recycling, waste reduction, energy efficiency and water conservation for years, and feel very able to provide services for sports events and sports brands that want to reduce their carbon footprint through supply chain,” said Gabauer.
“Most sports events will have a hard time achieving climate neutral or carbon neutral through best practice, so we offer them opportunities to balance out the rest of their footprint through carbon credits and verified emissions reduction programmes, and partner them with our projects in Kenya.”
He added: “We don’t just use carbon credits to balance out carbon footprint, but we take the opportunity to interact with that community, the real people on the ground, the sports figures, and facilitate an exchange between sports communities. Sustainability is a global issue, and having as much of a global focus as possible on reducing emissions will help change the world.”