It happened. President Trump has announced his plan to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. We’re now among the ranks of only two other countries who haven’t signed the agreement: Syria and Nicaragua (who didn’t sign the agreement because it wasn’t strict enough).
As evidenced by this decision, President Trump can do many things that you may or may not agree with. Case in point: 7 out of 10 American voters (and almost half of Trump voters) think the U.S. should participate in the Paris Climate Agreement. While Trump can make decisions that have a big impact on your current and future well being, one area he cannot dictate is your spending. If you’re one of the 69% of Americans that support the Paris Climate Agreement, you can still put your money where your climate values are. To help you vote with your wallet, we’ve compiled a list of ways that you can use your normal daily spending to help combat climate change.
Use the Oroeco app
“What gets measured gets managed” is an old adage. The idea behind the Oroeco app is that you can literally put a scientifically-verified number on how you live and what you buy every day.
All you have to do is link up your Mint.com account (it’s free to sign up) and answer a few questions. The app integrates scientific data from UC Berkeley’s Cool Climate program with your daily spending to give you an estimate of how much actual CO2 equivalents you generate. From there, the app will recommend ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint while saving money.
Shop with environmentally-friendly companies
A lot of companies nowadays are jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon, but do they actually walk the talk and talk the walk? Keep an eye out for generic labels such as “eco-friendly” or “natural” as these companies may just be slapping a buzz-worthy label on their products.
Rather, look for specific claims, such as “50% post-consumer material,” or “fair trade certified.” They could still be stretching the truth, of course, but chances are slim that they are outright lying about these claims. Need more help? RankABrand is a great place to find an easy-to-understand sustainability score for companies.
Shop with Amazon Smile
OK. We know you shop at Amazon. So why not give a small kickback to your favorite charity in the process? Simply go to smile.amazon.com and select your charity. There are literally tens of thousands to choose from, such as the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and The Wilderness Society.
Items that are eligible for an Amazon Smile donation will be marked above the yellow Add To Cart box. If you then buy that product, a 0.5% cut will go to your charity—at no extra cost to you.
Eat more veggies
Surprise: Vegetables have a smaller carbon footprint than meat. Still, it’s worth pointing out that by including more vegetables in your diet, you’ll be healthier, wealthier, and the planet will be just a little bit happier.
Oh, and don’t fret too much about buying only organic vegetables. While it’s probably not a bad idea to only eat organic/local/non-GMO produce, there is actually quite a lot of evidence to show that these types of farming systems may not be all they’re cracked up to be.
Make smarter meat choices
While it is more eco-friendly to go vegetarian, some of us just can’t give up our bacon cheeseburgers (I don’t blame you). But, there are some smarter, more climate-friendly ways to get your meat fix.
For land-based meats, try to limit your beef consumption. Instead, opt for more pork and chicken. According to one Swedish study, beef generates 323% and 698% more greenhouse gas emissions than pork and chicken, respectively.
For seafood, check the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program for recommendations. The aquarium even has an app to help you get the most sustainable fish while on the go (hint: a lot of fish on the market today is not sustainable).
Opt for reusable products
The amount of money we waste on disposable products is mind-boggling. In the U.S. alone, more than 60 million disposable water bottles are thrown away—per day. These items fill up landfills and drive consumption of more resources, which ultimately contributes to climate change.
Instead, anytime you throw something away, ask yourself: Is there a reusable option for this? Can I get it on Amazon Smile?
Things like water bottles, grocery/produce bags, coffee cups, and paper towels are all great candidates for reusable replacements. A great side bonus? You’ll save a ton of money as well.
One of the best ways to go green is by installing a solar system on your home. You’ll even get a 30% tax credit for doing so. In some cases, you can completely power your entire home with a solar system. Even if you can only replace a portion of your electric bill, every little bit helps.
Don’t own your own home? Me neither. But, there are still options for renters. Many places have solar communities available where you can buy or lease your own panel in an off-site solar farm in return for credits towards your electric bill. My local solar community estimates one panel costs $485 after tax credits, but you’ll earn about $1,122 in electric credits over its 50-year lifetime.
Look on the Bright Side
As you can see, even in the wake of Trump’s decision regarding the Paris Climate Agreement, you can have a positive effect on our climate. In fact, by using these tips, you’ll be doing your part to create a brighter future for our planet.