by Joe Delaney, Financial Lifeguard
The climate is changing so fast, it can feel like there’s nothing we can do to help the earth.
You see it in the news. Tragic drought and record-breaking fire seasons in the west, regular hurricanes and tropical storms causing flooding and mayhem on the east coast, and other notable weather events around the globe.
Part of the reason is our over-reliance on plastics. It’s bad enough that they pollute our oceans. Plastics originate as fossil fuels, which emit the greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change. Their production accounts for 4-8 percent of annual global oil consumption.
So what can we do as individuals take a stand against climate change and improve our planet? Start to reduce our dependency on plastics and energy sources that depend on fossil fuels, for one. And support organizations working to help the earth.
How to Help the Earth
I have some suggestions below that I have implemented recently. If we work together, we can all play a role in stemming the tide for ourselves, our children and our children's children.
1. Conscientious Investing
One way is with our money, by investing in ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) focused investments. ESG funds are portfolios of equities and/or bonds that have passed stringent tests for how sustainable the company or government is regarding its ESG criteria.
Voting your conscience with your investment dollars is one way to make a meaningful impact on environmental issues now and into the future.
This is something I do personally and for our clients at Lifeguard Wealth. We have vetted a wide array of ESG investment options for our clients. If you are interested in learning more about it, please schedule a time here to discuss.
2. Go Solar!
I recently put solar panels on my roof this summer. I needed a new roof, and this was the time to consider adding solar as well.
The federal government inducement made the decision all the easier. Currently, the federal government is providing a 26% federal tax credit on residential solar-related investments.
I knew it was a smart decision. The surprise was the personal satisfaction of knowing that I have dramatically reduced my home's carbon footprint.
I check my Enphase app (see below) regularly to see the surplus energy I am producing and putting back on the power grid. That gives me a lot of personal satisfaction.
Since installing my solar system in mid-August, I have produced 880 kWh just by tapping into the sun's energy. My net investment to add solar was approximately $11,000, and I calculate the payback on this investment to be approximately seven years.
But if you add in the intangible, feel-good benefit of making a difference today, my ROI on this home improvement has already been realized. As an added benefit, having solar on my roof adds to the future resale value of my home.
3. Ditch Plastic Bottles
Do you remember the classic 1967 movie The Graduate starring a young Dustin Hoffman? I’m reminded of the scene where his character Benjamin Braddock is approached by Mr. Maguire:
Mr. Maguire: “There is a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?”
Benjamin: “Yes, I will.”
Mr. Macquire: “Okay. Enough said. That's a deal.”
Well, Mr. Maquire was right! Over the last five decades, plastics have made their way into every aspect of our lives.
A few years back, after watching the documentary film A Plastic Ocean, I decided to rid my household of single-use plastic water bottles. You know, the ones you can buy at Costco for less than 15 cents a bottle.
How can you pass up those convenient water bottles, you ask? Well, the problem is they don’t all end up getting recycled. They end up in the dump, our waterways, and our oceans. So, I went out and purchased a nice reusable water bottle, installed a water filtration system, and have not looked back since. If you would like a Lifeguard Wealth water bottle like the one below, let us know and we will ship one out to you.
When I think about all of those single-use water bottles and tops that I have saved from ending up somewhere where they should not be, it makes me feel good. Plus, the more of us who don’t use them, the less demand there will be for plastics production. One small step at a time.
4. Switch to Laundry Sheets
If you were like me, you use a liquid detergent that comes in a large plastic bottle like this:
When it was empty, I would put it into the recycling can, open a new bottle, and the cycle continued until I made a change to my habit. Like water bottles, these don't always get recycled properly. They often end up in the dump or worse.
So I recently switched to a much more environmentally friendly product called Breezeo (see below). Breezeo laundry detergent strips are concentrated laundry sheets that you toss in the washer. When the box is empty, you recycle the cardboard envelope.
I have found Breezeo to be a very effective laundry detergent as well. They are easy, effective and environmentally smart. (And no, I don’t get a commission if you buy them. I’m just an enthusiast!)
Work with Your Financial Lifeguard to Help the Earth
Every one of us can make a difference. Sometimes it's something small like reducing our use of single-use plastic water bottles. Other times, it can be something larger like ESG Investing, going solar or purchasing an electric car.
The important thing is to do something. Make a change to alter habits that have a negative impact on the planet. I challenge you to look at your habits and see if there is something you can change to help the earth.
If we all lean in just a bit, we can collectively make a difference now and for future generations. Plus, you will get that added personal satisfaction that you are contributing, and that feeling is truly priceless.
I would love to hear about what you and your family are doing to lean in and make a difference. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.