April is Earth Month, so it’s a great time to take stock of how you’re impacting the planet. Here are a few simple ways you can reduce your personal environmental impact:
- Use fewer single-use plastics – and skip the straw!
Single-use plastics, such as plastic bags and coffee cups, are not sustainable. They litter our streets, choke our waterways, and never fully degrade. They also increase our dependence on fossil fuels.
So, consider carrying a reusable bag and water bottle. Support local and state initiatives to ban plastic bags that will make your community more sustainable.
Thanks to the advocacy campaigns of our nonprofit owners, more than 200 cities and communities across the U.S. already have banned polystyrene foam. Help your community join the polystyrene foam ban party.
- Consume more plant-based food
Avoiding meat and dairy products is one of the single best ways for you to reduce your environmental footprint, according to one recent study. It found that without meat and dairy production, global farmland could be reduced by more than 75 percent – an area equivalent to the U.S., Australia, China, and the European Union combined – and still feed the world’s population.
While not everyone is ready to fully embrace veganism, by simply substituting one 5-ounce steak a week with the same caloric amount of beans, you could keep the carbon-emissions equivalent of 38 gallons of gas out of the atmosphere.
There also are more plant-based protein options for sale in restaurants and supermarkets than ever before, thanks in no small part to Green Century’s award-winning shareholder advocacy program.
In 2016, Green Century filed the first shareholder proposal with Tyson Foods,* the world’s second largest meat processor, calling on it to produce more plant-based options. It was the first shareholder resolution on plant-based protein filed in the U.S.
Following our engagement, Tyson took a 5 percent stake in plant-based protein producer, Beyond Meat.* (You can read our 2017 conversation with Beyond Meat Founder and CEO Ethan Brown and Chairman of the Board Seth Goldman here.) Tyson also started a $150 million venture capital fund supporting alternative protein development.
- Repair, don’t replace
When part of your car breaks, you don’t just throw the whole thing away, but that’s what we do with too many consumer electronics and other household items.
All of this waste is no small problem. Americans throw out 416,000 cell phones per day! In total, the world produces about 40 million metric tons of electronic waste (e-waste) each year – and only about 13 percent of that is recycled.
In 2018, one of Green Century’s shareholder advocates discussed the problem of e-waste with Microsoft,* and those conversations will continue with other companies.
Green Century’s nonprofit owners also are working to address the issue. They’re working to provide all consumers access to the parts, tools, and service information they need to repair electronic products, like smartphones and laptops.
If your smartphone or laptop stops working, consider taking it to a repair shop instead of simply replacing it.
If you care about the environment and want to improve your personal impact, don’t overlook your finances. Green Century invests with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance leaders. We’re also proudly fossil fuel free, so our shareholders can rest easy, knowing their investments are not supporting the industry that’s spent more than $2 billion fighting climate change legislation since 2000.
*As of March 31, 2019, Microsoft Corporation comprised 3.99%, 7.19%, and 0.00% of the Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century MSCI International Index Fund, respectively. Other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios as of March 31, 2019. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or the distributor.
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