Big Decisions

Worried your 401(k) is fueling climate change?

3 tips to make sure your investments are also fighting climate change

Have a 401(k), savings, or checking account? Congratulations! You are now a shareholder of oil and gas companies. OK, just kidding, that's not exactly how it works, but your money isn't just sitting around twiddling its thumbs. It gets invested in a lot of different ways, including with companies responsible for climate change. You might end up owning stocks in coal, oil, or gas companies through your retirement account and, if you're banking with certain banks, they could be using your money to help finance oil or gas pipelines.


Why does it matter? We all know climate change is already happening. We are feeling the impact on our health today from extreme heat to worsening allergy seasons to the food on our plates. You can use your money to help the transition away from climate-damaging fossil fuels into clean energy that is healthier for you, your kids, and your communities. And, it's easy to do.

Here are 3 steps you can take to use your money to do good for the planet and your finances.

Step 1. Know what you own.

Fossil fuel companies like Exxon and Shell have known for decades that burning fossil fuels cause climate change and have spent those same decades sowing climate change doubt and keeping the fossil fuels flowing. And, although they have started to invest in clean energy solutions like solar and wind, they have also invested trillions of dollars in future fossil fuel projects from coal mines to pipelines and have fought against better fuel economy standards and clean air standards that protect human health. But despite all this, the world is shifting away from fossil fuels. Every nation on the planet, except the United States, has agreed to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Through this agreement, the world has pledged to reduce carbon emissions to limit global warming to 1.5C in order to protect island nations from sea level rise.

Global climate action spells financial trouble for fossil fuel companies. Renewable energy, like wind and solar, are now cheaper to install than new coal plants, and they're almost as cheap as natural gas. More car companies are committed to replacing gasoline-fueled cars with electric vehicles. For coal, oil, and gas companies that means they are worth more today than they will be when you cash out your 401(k). Economists are so worried about the carbon bubble bursting that they think it could spark the next global financial crisis.

So, how can you find out if you have fossil fuel company investments? You can call and ask your financial advisor or investment company. If they don't know or aren't sure, ask them to check and get back to you. Fossil Free Funds is a great search platform that looks at the climate impact of popular mutual funds and shows you if your money is being invested in fossil fuel companies, or companies with high carbon footprints. You can use their step-by-step guide to learn the climate impact of your investment portfolio or find fossil free options. Knowledge is power!

2. Divest from fossil fuel companies. Invest in climate solutions.

Around the world, nearly 900 institutions from universities to pension funds worth over $6 trillion have committed to pull their money from coal, tar sands, oil, and gas companies because they no longer want to be investing in climate change. With the help of celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Adrien Grenier, the global fossil fuel divestment movement has called attention to climate change and the need to move beyond fossil fuels, but as it turns out, it's also been doing a lot of good for investment portfolios. Industry and governments need to invest $90 trillion toward sustainable development over the next 15 years in order to keep to the Paris Climate Agreement, and that's a huge investment opportunity. The Clean200™ is a list of the 200 largest companies worldwide ranked by their total clean energy revenues, including revenue associated with energy efficiency themes. In the first year and a half since the Clean200 list was launched, Clean200 companies generated a total return of 32.1%. That's almost double the 15.7% return compared to its fossil fuel benchmark - the S&P 1200 Global Energy Index.

You can use Fossil Free Funds and the Clean200™ lists to find fossil free investment options or to start a conversation with your financial advisor about helping you choose investment options that cut climate change out of your investments. Green Century Funds offers fossil free mutual funds and has a helpful Guide to Fossil Fuel Free Investing and other resources to help you along your way to a fossil free future. If your 401(k) or employer-sponsored retirement company doesn't have fossil free options, ask them to add some! Millennials are leading the way on socially responsible investing and fundamentally transforming the way companies do business by demanding more ethical options, for our health and the health of the planet.

3. Switch your bank.

Many banks, like Chase and Bank of America, are providing finance for projects like the Dakota Access pipeline and tar sands development that are polluting our air and water, and ensuring decades of future carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. As an alternative,you can open an account with a local credit union or community bank. You can often get the same services at a local bank that most bigger banks provide, plus local banks and credit unions do more to invest in their communities. On average, small and medium banks provide more than half of the lending to local small businesses in your town or city than big banks. So, when you visit your local health food store or bakery, chances are they got their start with a loan from a local bank. Green America has an easy 10-step guide to making the switch to a smaller bank and a directory to find an alternative near you!

Additional actions you can take:

Now that you have taken steps to get fossil fuel money out of your wallet, help us build a healthy, fossil free world. Join 350.org to bring the global movement to every city and town for a fast and just transition to renewable energy for all, stop and ban all new fossil fuel projects, and cut off the social license and finance for fossil fuels. Join (or start!) a campaign at www.gofossilfree.org

Life

Why You Shouldn’t Sleep with Your Phone

At least put it in airplane mode or toss it across the room

We know that scrolling can be a totally mindless way to fall asleep. Look at some random photos on Insta, read an article somewhere, take a quiz to learn what your cheese choices say about your love life, and before you know it, you're drifting softly to sleep. But, that probably also means your phone is your snuggle buddy. You might think it's totally fine, or that random alarm clock app might promise to wake you at the best time in your sleep cycle if you leave your phone under your pillow, but we are thinking that may not be the best idea for a couple of reasons.

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL
Home

5 Tips To Help Reduce and Properly Recycle Electronic Waste

For when you get a new [insert electronic device]

Getting new gadgets is always exciting. Whether it's a cell phone, an electric toothbrush, or even a blender, it's fun to learn all about the new features. But, what happens to the old ones? If it still works, maybe you resell it, or it goes to a friend, or Goodwill. Other times, it ends up in a drawer with all the old cords you keep around just in case (like that one to plug your old digital camera into your laptop - oh wait, you laptop doesn't have ports anymore… but you never know!). For all of the items that don't end up in either of those categories, many of them end up being thrown out and becoming e-waste.

As technology keeps improving and advancing at a lightning fast pace and electronics become harder to repair, the larger the amount of e-waste will become. So, what does that mean for us and the planet?

Keep Reading Show Less
Home

9 Veggies You Can Grow Indoors

Gourmet dinners with fresh veggies and no more plastic herb packets are in your future

What's better than having an indoor plant baby? How about one that gives you food? Even if you don't have a backyard, you can grow some vegetables and herbs on a windowsill inside. We found 9 veggies and herbs that are easy to grow inside and are useful to have on hand.

Keep Reading Show Less
Home

Why Creating Your Own Compost Might Be Easier Than You Think

We've got step-by-step instructions, tips and tricks to get you the best looking soil around (seriously!)

You made it! Now that you're here, don't run yet! Gone are the days when composting meant throwing a heap of your leftovers in the dirt and banking on magic to make some soil (not that you still can't). BUT, we've got everything you need to know to jump on the composting train, reduce your carbon footprint and start saving money on fertilizer without all the headache and mess.

Keep Reading Show Less
Home

Why You Should Care About Soil Contamination If You're Starting a Garden in Your Backyard

Here's the dirt-y details you're going to want to know and what to do about it

Dreary winter blues might have you dreaming of blue skies, warm weather and some home grown vegetables. But before you go jetting off to your nearest Home Depot or nursery, you might want to take a second and get to know your soil. We're serious! No, not the hello, my name is ____, more like the hey, what's in my soil? Not all soils are created equally and trust us when we say that you'll definitely want to make sure the soil you're using for growing food to eat is top notch!

Keep Reading Show Less
Home

What All Those Certifications on Mattresses Actually Mean

Label Education: Decoding what GOTS, GOLS, Greenguard, Organic, and more mean

Choosing the right mattress is so important for sound sleep and health, yet with so many options the shopping can be confusing and stressful! Obviously you want to take comfort and pricing into consideration, but there are some chemical ingredients you might want to consider too. Standard synthetic foam mattresses can contain various harmful chemicals we don't want to be sleeping on. And these chemicals can evaporate into the air, or collect in house dust, which is yucky and no good for your family's health.

The great news is that there are a bunch of healthier alternatives, and these labels below can help you find them. We also have a roundup of 12 non-toxic mattress brands if you just want a quick guide to organic mattresses and natural mattresses you can buy.

Keep Reading Show Less
Roundups

12 Non-Toxic Mattresses

options for every budget that are free of any harsh chemicals and petroleum-based foam, including organic mattresses

Step 1: Start researching organic mattresses or natural mattresses. Step 2: Get confused! Step 3: Look at our roundup where we did all the research on safe, well reviewed, comfy mattresses for you. Step 4: Order a healthy, non-toxic, organic mattress Step 5: Sleep more peacefully. We found options for every budget, so what are you waiting for?

All of the mattress brands we found use natural materials like 100% natural latex, organic cotton, and wool, and do not use petroleum-based foams or no chemical flame retardants. For our budget picks ($), a base model queen retailed for less than $1000. For the quality picks ($), a queen ran between $1000 and $2000. And the splurge picks ($) retailed for above $2000. Some brands use inner coils and some are made of just latex layers. We hope this list of natural mattress brands is a good starting place for a better night's sleep.

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL