This year’s Earth Day theme continues the call to “Invest In Our Planet.”
Inspired by that big prompt, we’ve put together a week-long challenge you can take on, starting on Earth Day — or whenever you find this post, as these tips are relevant all year round. We’re sharing ways that you can support climate solutions by investing your time, energy, and money where they matter: in our planet.
Here are five days of low-effort, big-impact actions you can take.
Day 1: Put your retirement plan to work
You might be sitting on a huge opportunity to invest in our planet (literally): your workplace retirement plan.
Socially responsible investing means keeping your money out of industries like fossil fuels, and putting it into companies that match your values. Some retirement plans do include socially responsible funds (sometimes also called ESG funds, which stands for environmental, social, and governance), and some benefits companies specialize in socially responsible retirement plans. However, not all 401(k) funds include ESG funds.
Check out the resources below for more tips on how to make your plan work harder for the planet.
- Check with your existing retirement plan — many have or are adding socially responsible options!
- As You Sow’s toolkit lays out steps and resources for asking your employer to add socially responsible options to your retirement plan.
Day 2: Be responsible with investing. Socially responsible, that is.
If you’re in a position to invest beyond your retirement savings, you can say a lot with where you choose to put your money.
Socially responsible investing (SRI) can push companies toward better and more sustainable practices, such as divesting from fossil fuel projects, and it’s growing in popularity. A lot of investment platforms are adding SRI or impact options.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, or if you have existing investments that you want to reinvest in socially responsible funds, we have some tips to help you start.
- Green America has tips for socially responsible investing at any age.
- If you want to screen investments yourself, As You Sow has a great tool for finding funds that match your values.
- Not interested in screening yourself? Work with a socially responsible financial advisor.
- You can also use an automated online financial advisor that specializes in SRI funds. There are plenty out there!
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Day 3: Find insurance that protects the planet, too
Chances are, you don’t think about your insurance too much. You pay your premium and then it doesn’t cross your mind again until you need it. But did you know that your insurance company actually invests that money?
If you want to make sure that your premiums are going toward a healthier planet, you can look for a sustainable insurance company. Learn more about what that means — and how to find one — with the resources below.
- The Impact Investor provides an overview of what sustainable insurance really means.
- Want to know where your current insurance stands? Insure Our Future US releases an annual scorecard on the top insurers’ climate policies.
Day 4: Bank on your values
Like your insurance company from yesterday’s task, banks also invest money. Different types of banks invest in different things. For some banks, that includes fossil fuel projects.
The good news is that you have the power to choose a bank that matches your values. The resources below can help you.
- Tools such as Mighty and Green America make it easy to find banks and credit unions that match your values.
- Green America also walks you through 10 easy steps to switch banks.
- Marilyn Waite, who runs the Climate Finance Fund, recommends checking to see if your bank is B-Corp certified or a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values.
Day 5: Clean up your power
Why did we save this task for the grand finale? Because your home energy use is one of the biggest impacts you can have on the environment — in fact, the average US home’s electricity use is equivalent to the CO2 emissions released by burning 427 pounds of coal!
It only takes two minutes to change your impact; sign up to be an Arcadia member, and every power bill you pay will help fill our grid with clean energy, not fossil fuels.
- Arcadia integrates with your existing utility account to match your energy use with clean energy from wind and solar. By increasing demand for clean energy, you can help us move closer to 100% renewable energy.
- If you live in an area where community solar is available, Arcadia connects you to that clean power plant for no extra cost.
- Community solar subscribers help clean up their local power supply AND earn credits that lower your power bill.