We could be saving a lot of money by living a cleaner, greener lifestyle — like in the trillions.
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Natural Resources Defense Council

Look, I get it: Cleaning up your carbon footprint feels like a lot of work.

What with all the dividing up your plastics and cans and cardboard and glass and dragging that bright green or blue bin out to the curb once a week.

Hell, I'm not even sure what goes where at my co-working space:



Is there a difference between the blue and the green? What about all the biodegradable cups and utensils? Where do I put those when I'm done? I'M SO OVERWHELMED — ooooh, look! Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins...

And sure, maybe you'd buy an electric car if there were more options or if they weren't so much more expensive at the lot.

But as cool as your neighbor's solar panels look, you can't imagine that the maintenance and installation costs could really make it worth it. Besides, your standard electric bill is easier, and it's not even that bad anyway. Right?

But what if I told you that clean, green living will actually save you money?

GIF from "The Matrix."

I think it's fair to assume that most people think that greenhouse gases are cheap and easy, so they're willing to go along with the undeniable damage that they do to the planet because, hey, money's tight. I get that.

But guess who benefits from that belief? (Hint: It's the people making money off of it.)

As it turns out, renewable energy is significantly more cost-effective than fossil fuels.

And the price is only going down (which in turn makes the price of fossil fuels rise even more because the market says so — shout-out to all my free-market capitalist homies!)


Clearly Beyoncé was singing about renewal energy and the changing climate, which is decidedly not "chill." GIF via Destiny's Child.

So much so that it has cost us over $300 trillion — and counting! — for not doing the green thing.

A new economic study has valued the cost of our continued environmental destruction at a whopping $326 trillion dollars (over two centuries, but still).

Specifically, the study from the University of Cambridge and the National Snow and Ice Data Center applied theoretical economic models to predict the cost of climate change over the next 185 years on agriculture, air conditioning (to counter the rising global temperatures), human health care and medical coverage for new and evolving diseases, and more.

What's more, their model showed that if we don't find a way to slow the increasing thaw of Arctic permafrost and the resulting carbon emissions, it'll add an additional $43 trillion to that already hefty sum.

It should be noted that these numbers are ignoring the cost of inflation; presumably private colleges will cost $43 trillion per semester in the year 2100, but that's like comparing a nickel today to a nickel in 1830.


GIF from "Eastbound and Down."

"We want to use these models to help us make better decisions — linking scientific and economic models together is a way to help us do that," Chris Hope, one of the authors of the paper, said in a press release. Ya know, better decisions like not destroying the planet while also paying out of pocket to subsidize our own demise.

At the end of the day, the facts are clear: Clean, green living is not a partisan problem. It's actually better for everyone.

"Reducing fossil fuel emissions and stopping climate change is not a stark choice between jobs and the environment," said Kevin Schaefer, another author of the paper. “Rather, we can simultaneously reduce emissions and grow the economy by harnessing the same market forces that created the problem in the first place. [...] This will create an environment where consumers will naturally choose the low-carbon option because it is the best economic choice available."

When you put it that way, it's kind of hard to argue. It is literally a win-win for everyone.


GIF from "Parks and Recreation."

The return on investment for clean energy is worth it — but the benefits are that much better when we all work together.

Time for some real talk: One electric car or residential solar panel is not going to save us from the $326 trillion doom of our fiery future.

But if the world around us keeps going about things as they have been, these small pockets of change will only serve to slightly offset the inevitable — particularly when about 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions on the planet come from factories (including their share of emissions from electricity) — the largest contributor of any sector.

So as long as money talks, let's put our money where our mouths are and invest it in cleaner, greener lifestyles.

Let's pledge our support for a clean energy future — we can start by putting a stop to offshore drilling in the Arctic. By coming together and pledging ourselves toward a better future, we can implement greater and more far-reaching changes than me trying to understand the difference between the green and blue recycling bins.

But I'm still going to do that, of course. Because it still makes a difference.

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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Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

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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.

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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.