Female Founders in Climate Series
AN INTERVIEW WITH CATHRYN PEIRCE, CO-FOUNDER OF CARBON ZERO FINANCIAL
This time, we’re hearing from Cathryn Peirce at Carbon Zero Financial. Read on to learn how she’s leading her team to make measuring, offsetting, and reducing carbon footprints as simple as swiping a credit card.
By Briana Tang
March 23, 2022
Recently, people have become aware of the term ‘carbon footprint’ and how it relates to them personally. This includes not only the emissions generated by themselves, but also by their purchases. Now, more than ever, people are trying to understand how their lifestyle and purchases contribute to emissions and are seeking more sustainable, eco-friendly substitutes.
Carbon Zero Financial uses their technology to automate the offsetting and overall reduction of their customers’ carbon footprints. The services run in the background as people shop with their Carbon Zero-enabled credit cards.
By calculating a person's carbon footprint based on spending, Cathryn’s company allows a person to offset their footprint while also providing personalized feedback on how to reduce it. Carbon Zero also features personalized incentives such as cashback deals and insights to help people make more sustainable decisions.
As the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Carbon Zero Financial, Cathryn is challenging the status quo of personal finance. We recently had the opportunity to hear about her experience as a female founder operating in the climate finance industry.
Hi Cathryn, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Let’s start off simple: how did you get the idea for Carbon Zero Financial?
Carbon Zero Financial was born out of the belief that it should be easier to act and transact according to our concerns for the planet. So easy in fact, that it should be hardwired into our daily behaviors and financial products. Although we hear a lot of dispiriting stories about the state of the world, the reality is that most people are actually concerned about the planet and do want to be part of the solution.
For innovators, this raises an exciting question: how can we maximize impact by building new systems around shared goals? That’s where Carbon Zero Financial comes in. We’re leveraging the power of data, finance, and technology to make carbon neutral living as simple as swiping your credit card.
This sounds like a great idea - I can’t think of an easier way to incorporate fighting climate change into our daily habits than using my credit card. Could you expand more on how exactly Carbon Zero Financial is leading the fight against climate change?
Carbon Zero Financial is leading the fight against climate change by making the act of voting with your dollar a data enabled, tech enabled, and automated experience. With our platform, it’s never been easier to lower your carbon impact, raise your carbon consciousness, and align your consumerism with your concern for the planet.
Carbon Zero Financial sounds like an amazing company! You must have faced your fair share of good memories since starting it. What would you consider your proudest moment so far?
I’m proudest every time I see the excitement in someone’s eyes after they hear about our product. There’s such palpable relief and eagerness when they realize that they don’t have to live with the agonizing guilt, fear, and shame that most of us associate with our consumerism and climate impact.
In those moments, it’s abundantly clear that Carbon Zero isn’t just building a competitive financial product – we're helping people achieve greater alignment between their values and lifestyle.
I’m glad to hear that people are connecting with your product! It’s always lovely to hear that your efforts are paying off. Is there anything you would have done differently during your entrepreneurial journey?
I would have built more publicly earlier on. As entrepreneurs, and particularly as women, we can be reluctant to share our work until we think it’s near perfect. Unfortunately, this reluctance can do more harm than good.
The pursuit of perfection is very often the enemy of progress. By letting more people be part of your journey at each stage, you create more opportunities for collaboration, feedback, support, and growth.
On your point about being a female entrepreneur, is there something you wish other people knew more about?
There’s a lot I could say on the inequalities women face as entrepreneurs—such as the biases in VC investing, and the lack of female representation in so many of our industries (including finance, tech, and climate)—but most of us already know that.
Instead, I want people to know that despite all of that, it is still unbelievably rewarding to spend each day creating something you genuinely believe in. Whatever BS comes along the way (and there will be BS!), being a female entrepreneur means building a business based on your vision and values, feeling genuinely connected to the work you do, and asserting day in and day out that women have a rightful place in innovation.
Climate Lightning Round
Moving on to the Climate Lighting Round, where we rapid-fire climate-related questions at you!
What’s your favorite climate tech or topic?
Biomimicry and eco-feminism.
Wind, solar, or geothermal - which are you most excited about?
What is your favorite book or resource about climate that you wish everyone knew about?
Any recent examples of greenwashing you’ve seen that you want to set the record straight on?
YES! If an institution is only planting trees to demonstrate their commitment to climate, they are engaging in what I call pageanTREE, not real impact.
Though reforestation most certainly has a role to play in our climate efforts, it’s the low hanging fruit of carbon offsetting and should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism when an institution employs it as their primary method of climate impact.
That’s something really important to keep in mind! Thanks so much Cathryn for your time - it was so great hearing from you.
We’ve also mentioned before and agree that planting trees alone will not solve climate change. At Carbon Zero Financial, Cathryn is not just helping offset emissions, but is actively giving people the insights and information needed to optimize their own footprint.
Thank you Cathryn for sharing your thoughts! Stay posted for Friday, where we’ll hear from Kamal Kapadia at Terra.do.
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