Will.i.am may be a multiplatinum, Grammy-winning performer and producer, but when it comes to online shopping, the Black Eyed Peas star could really be just like us. Will is teaming up with Amazon this holiday season to promote Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly program, a new initiative that helps consumers find sustainable products when shopping on the site.
Live now on Amazon.com, customers can look for the Climate Pledge Friendly label on more than 50,000 products, ranging from fashion to beauty to electronics. Amazon says the label signifies that the products have one or more of 18 different sustainability certifications that “help preserve the natural world” (I.e. by reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers).
For Will, the partnership is another way to live more consciously, both in terms of his consumption of goods, and his environmental footprint. “I have embraced sustainability personally and in business in several ways, from driving all electric vehicles, eating a plant-based vegan diet [and] investing in companies that allow people to live more sustainable-friendly and healthy lives,” he says. “That’s why I’m working with Amazon on the Climate Friendly Pledge initiative to talk about the importance of sustainability and how sustainable shopping is one way we can each do just a little bit more to make the planet a better place for everyone.”
Will talked to Rolling Stone about his new partnership, dealing with critics of Amazon, and how this whirlwind year could be the motivation we need to re-think our priorities for 2021.
What’s your connection with Amazon? Are you a Prime member? Do you shop on the site?
I’m an Amazon shopper, for everyday products, and I’m also a Whole Foods fan. It’s easy to arrange for fast deliveries to the house or the studio, and I’m glad that more household items I buy are now Climate Pledge Friendly.
What made you want to team up with them on this initiative?
While COVID has hit the world hard, it has also shown us the good things that can happen to the planet when we spend a lot less time in carbon-emitting vehicles, and spend more time at home with our families. The photos taken in major cities just a few months after the world slowed down were amazing – dramatically cleaner air, clearer water in rivers and canals, wildlife became more visible, etc. The photos show us that if we modify how we live and work, it is possible to reduce and even turn around the damage inflicted upon the planet.
Last year Amazon also announced The Climate Pledge, with a commitment to become net zero carbon by 2040 via a carbon neutral fleet that moves and delivers more sustainable products to my front door. The Climate Friendly Pledge array of products makes it easier for shoppers to select products that are doing their part toward a more sustainable world.
Amazon sometimes gets a bad rap for being a big corporation. Were you concerned about that at all when signing on for this partnership?
When it comes to driving positive change and making a dent in big global issues, large, progressive corporations are often the fastest to mobilize and to start demonstrating that they are making an actionable difference. I’m honored to work alongside many corporate leaders who are part of World Economic Forum that are committed to tackling a number of vital global issues, sustainability included.
Another thing I like that Amazon is doing is a new Compact By Design innovation certificate. This will encourage improved design, packaging that is lighter to lower energy use associated with moving the products, and reduce packaging material waste.
Have your views on consumption or shopping changed with so many people having to quarantine this year?
2020 has tossed life as we know it upside down. While we have been spending a lot of time at home, including working from home, the ability to shop and have items delivered has definitely helped make it less stressful. As even more people get in the habit of shopping remotely for home delivery, we can also each do our part to help the planet by selecting more sustainable products. Looking for the Climate Pledge Friendly sign makes it easier to do this. I’m also making a conscious effort to shop more sustainably, and bundle more non-perishable items like cleaning supplies in a single order.
You released a new album this year (Translation, with the Black Eyed Peas), you’re producing songs for other artists, and now you’re launching this campaign — how important was it for you to find some normalcy and keep working during this unprecedented year?
Despite Covid, 2020 has actually been a very busy and productive year so far. Black Eyed Peas have figured out a streamlined way to work together remotely, perform while social distancing, and harnessed some cool technology to deliver remote concert performances. We put out our album, that contained songs with J Balvin, Maluma, Nicky Jam and Tyga to get people moving and dancing. Then we collaborated with Jennifer Hudson on “The LOVE” music video and helped to drive Biden-Harris to victory in early November. And now I’m helping Amazon showcase the actionable changes they’re implementing as part of the Climate Pledge Friendly sustainability program. Next: I’m gearing up for a major fundraising campaign for my i.am Angel Foundation that funds STEAM education programs for under-served kids K-12. From building robots to learning to write computer code, our students are still working and studying hard despite not being physically in class.
Where will you be spending the holidays? Will you be able to see friends and family this year or are you keeping it low-key and socially distant?
My top priority is keeping Covid from harming my family, bandmates and colleagues, so that everyone remains safe during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period. My mom usually hosts the Big Feast at her house on Thanksgiving Day, with all the brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and their kids. This year, it was a smaller group that was outside in the backyard, mindful of keeping our distance, and wearing masks, except when eating. I hope everyone will do the same, so that we can all gather again in family groups of any size in 2021.
Aside from music, what are your favorite holiday gifts to give?
My favorite gifts to give often incorporate technology, like the latest smart devices that incorporate AI, smart phones, things like this. This year my gift boxes will include masks too. For the foreseeable future, we will all be wearing them so it’s always good to have extras.
What advice do you have for people just trying to leave 2020 behind?
Yeah, it’s been a year that most of us just want it to go away and forget about it. From a music POV, it has been devastating to the live festival and concert touring industry. We all just want to get back out there, to be onstage performing in front of you – the live audience. My advice is to dream big and make a list of all the things you are looking forward to doing with family and friends in 2021. We WILL get back out there. Until then, please wear a mask and stay safe.