Heroes

More Americans will be able to afford solar energy in their homes soon. Thanks, Obama.

It's funny how only the richest people seem to be able to afford FREE energy from the sun, huh?

More Americans will be able to afford solar energy in their homes soon. Thanks, Obama.

Sunshine. You'd think — because it's free — we should all get a share.

But solar power seems to be one of those awesome things that only rich people can afford (like a shopping cart full of organic produce from Whole Foods or a Tesla).

It's awesome, but solar energy is expensive. Installations can cost thousands!

While solar panels can significantly slash homeowners' energy costs once they're installed, it's the installing part that's the problem: You might have to fork over something like $15,000 or more (yeah, we're not talkin' chump change) to get those suckers on your roof.


This baby will never throw enough money out the window to afford a solar panel. GIF from "The Little Rascals."

For those of us who aren't filthy rich, this might not be a viable option.

But! If the installation cost is reduced or cut out of the picture entirely, solar energy becomes a much more appealing option to anyone looking to save some money on energy bills.

In the long run, solar energy will help keep your wallet fat.

Earlier this year, Roy Rivera of California benefited from a program that helps low-income residents in his state access solar power. According to Grid Alternatives — the nonprofit that helped make it happen — he'll save $818 on energy costs throughout the year following installation.

"When you have a budget like ours, which is stretched just about as far as you can go," Rivera explained, "[The savings from solar energy] makes a big difference."

Sleek, right? A worker installs solar panels in Lakewood, Colorado back in 2010. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Also, solar energy is global warming's kryptonite, basically.

Climate change is real, people. The more greenhouse gas we emit, the hotter our world becomes. The good news? Solar energy is an emissions-free energy source that keeps people, animals, and trees happy, while not warming the planet.

The White House wants to help make sure people can afford to switch to solar if they want.

President Obama wants more Americans to reap the benefits of clean, affordable energy from above. So he's changing things. The White House just announced new measures that will help more Americans access solar energy.

Throughout the next five years, President Obama wants to triple the number of solar and other sustainable energy systems installed in federally subsidized housing.


President Obama chats about the awesomeness of solar energy. The panels behind him approve. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

The initiative is one of several the White House announced on July 7, 2015, that will up America's use of solar power.

The plan also includes:

  • Providing technical assistance to affordable housing organizations so they're in-the-know when it comes to installing solar panels (because who would know where to even begin?)
  • Creating a handy-dandy toolkit to help states understand how they can use federal funds in creating solar-powered communities
  • Updating an old school policy to make borrowing money for solar energy improvements easier

Solar energy is definitely a cause worth fighting for.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.