While Trump is retreating on climate, Volvo just made a bold move away from oil.

Volvos.

Photo by Shirley 501JFW/Wikimedia Commons.

Once preferred by sushi-eating, latte-drinking Hollywood-loving elitists, much like sushi, lattes, and Hollywood, they've now gone mainstream. U.S. sales of the Chinese-owned, Swedish-made vehicles grew by 18% last year, thanks to the most American of car models, an SUV (the popular XC90).  


If all goes according to plan, they're about to get a whole lot cleaner.

The company intends to make all new models introduced from 2019 on either hybrid or fully electric, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

In a statement, Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson heralded the move as "the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car."

While bombastic predictions from top executives about their company's impact might not be anything new, the commitment to transitioning away from pure fossil fuel power is.

While efforts to combat climate change have had a rough few months, many companies are continuing to plug along with efforts to limit emissions.

On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Meanwhile, the EPA continues to attempt to delay implementation of methane emission regulations and reduce global warming to a matter of debate.

Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson. Photo by Jonas Ekstromer/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, not only is Volvo seeing green in a transition to green, several major oil companies, including ExxonMobil, recently announced support for a carbon tax, and utilities across the country are accelerating their push to incorporate more renewables.

With the world's second-biggest polluter essentially giving companies a run on the emissions store, the fact that much of private industry is saying, "Eh, we're good," is a hopeful signal.

Despite its lefty rep, Volvo isn't doing this solely out of concern that emissions are devitalizing the dawn aura of Mother Gaia.

Uh oh. Photo by Steve Jurvetson/Wikimedia Commons.

The luxury carmaker faces competition from companies like Tesla, whose Model 3 is expected to start at $35,000, a still-expensive-but-way-more-affordable-than-previous-Teslas price point.

In a weird way, the cynicism of the move is perhaps the most encouraging sign of all.

It might feel icky to see saving the Earth reduced to cold capitalist calculus.

Still, absent a quickie smashing o' the industrialist class hegemony, if a major car company believes there's money to be made in transitioning away from fossil fuels, so much the better.  

Hopefully, more car companies will catch wind of that sweet, sweet money trail and follow Volvo's lead.

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images.

The fossil fuels might be going away. Thankfully, the cupholders for your grande skinny soy aren't.

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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 Bernie Sanders isn't the realest dude to ever serve in Congress, I don't know who is.

We got to witness Bernie's down-to-earth, let's-get-to-work, cut-the-crap personality in all its visual glory at Joe Biden's inauguration today. While pundits fawned over the sharp and colorful stylings of the attendees, Uncle Bernie sauntered looking like he was on his way to run some errands and decided to stop in for a sec to see the new president sworn in.

Clad in what is probably his one winter coat and a pair of hand-knitted mittens, he looked perfectly comfortable, even as he stood out from the crowd of formal, designer coats and gloves. Ah, Bernie. You're just so...Bernie. It's a big part of why the guy has such a dedicated fan base. What you see is what you get, and he makes no apologies for being exactly who he is at all times.

But today of all days, as the nation waited with bated breath to witness the transfer of power from President Trump to President Biden, especially in the wake of an attempted violent coup and under the specter of an ongoing pandemic, Bernie's Bernieness came as a particularly welcome delight. This event could not have been more serious or weighty in its significance, and yet along comes Bernie reminding us that we're all just human beings here, none of us more or less important than the other.

His look launched a thousand memes that provided some needed comic relief for the day. I mean, how could it not?

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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.