Pledgeball: Love sport, love the planet

Today’s guest blog comes from Katie Cross, Founder of Pledgeball

Tackling climate change requires collective action: it requires decision makers to put a sustainable future first; it requires businesses to work under the ethos of leave no trace and it requires the many to make all choices informed by their impact on the planet.

Pledgeball rallies the many, by making visible the impact that we can have as a collective. Pledgeball works primarily with football fans for two reasons. Firstly, I love football. Secondly, the football community has the potential to rapidly initiate significant change. 

Bristol City FC were the first professional club to partner with Pledgeball back in April 2021. Just one Ashton Gate-worth of fans reducing their shower time to 5 minutes saves the same amount of carbon emissions as taking over 2,000 cars off the road. Then there’s the unmeasurable impact of this behaviour change filtering out into each fan’s own sphere of influence. Conversations about climate change with friends, relatives, colleagues plant the seed that grows into the majority living sustainably.

This is how Pledgeball works.

Each match day fans make one or a number of sustainable lifestyle pledges – pledges that range from switching to a reusable cup, to going vegan two days per week, to installing solar panels. The team of fans that pledges to save the most emissions wins that fixture and the cumulative amount they pledge to save determines their team’s place within the Pledgeball League. Robins fans have so far pledged to save 143,239kg of carbon emissions per year and lie in third in the Pledgeball League, behind two other Pledgeball partners.

But the true power lies in the grassroots communities – and not just in football either. Therefore, Pledgeball is open to anyone: any grassroots team, any group, any club can have a listing at, which lets them pledge together, support each other with the changes they choose to make and see the collective impact of carrying out these pledges.

Pledgeball’s potential for initiating a significant, holistic shift in mindset has been proven, and its work continues to be informed and assessed by academic research. 

It would not take many of us to live as sustainably as possible for it to start to become the norm. This will reduce carbon emissions both through our own individual choices and through the pressure applied to businesses, organisations and governments.

We all care about something, from family to football, and every one of those things will be affected by climate change. As individuals, we have the power to create change, through our choices and our conversations. Mobilising our existing communities will significantly accelerate our move to a sustainable future.

The Global Goals Centre’s #Bristol17 Campaign, which I was very happy to be a part of, illustrates this last point beautifully – look out for posters of us 17 around Bristol and our films playing in Millennium Square. 

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