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How can my purchases promote sustainability?

Hey friend - Welcome back to our monthly deep dives. This month, we have a special FREE edition Explained, brought to you by our partners at Future, a debit card that rewards your sustainable decisions.

$500 CASH GIVEAWAY + FREE SUBWAY RIDES FOR SUSTAINABILITY

We’re partnering with Future to give all Scoops readers a chance to earn free cash rewards by participating in a friendly sustainability competition.

Starting now through August 31st:

$500 CASH PRIZE for the Scoops reader with the most sustainable activity.

If our whole Scoops community makes at least 500 green actions during the contest period, Future will award a $100 CASH PRIZE TO ALL PARTICIPANTS!

We can do it!

Our partner, Future, rewards you for making sustainable purchase decisions with 5% cash back on everyday green purchases, from public transit to thrift shops. It’s a free debit card with sustainable lifestyle tracking.

And one more special bonus…

Are you in NYC? 

Scoops members will receive 1 FREE week of NYC subway rides just by signing up!

To join the competition and access these rewards, sign up for a free Future debit card through our link here.

Participants will be able to monitor the leaderboard on the page after signing up.

Sign up here today!

(I actually won this contest pretty easily through another group they sponsored.)

Our answer:

Your purchases can promote sustainability by supporting products and companies prioritizing environmental responsibility. By choosing items with minimal or recyclable packaging, opting for energy-efficient products, and supporting brands with robust sustainability practices and certifications, you can help reduce plastic waste, lower your carbon footprint, conserve water, and protect biodiversity. We can each further our impact by reducing, reusing, recycling, and advocating for policy changes.

Why is sustainability important for the economy?

Our planet faces a multitude of environmental challenges that threaten ecosystems, biodiversity, and human well-being. Global temperatures continue to rise, breaking new records in each of the last twelve months of the warmest decade on record, accelerated by record fossil fuel pollution trapping heat within our atmosphere. This increase in temperature exacerbates extreme weather events like hurricanes, droughts, and heat waves while endangering lives, displacing communities, threatening food security, and disrupting economies.

Combining drought with the mass extraction of clean water supplies has made water scarcity another critical issue. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population experience severe water scarcity for at least one month per year. Over-extraction of water resources and pollution are straining freshwater supplies, impacting drinking water, food production, transportation, and nearly every industry, from manufacturing to software.

Equally alarming is the loss of the biological diversity that supports life on our planet. It is driven by habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, and species overexploitation. Biodiversity loss not only affects wildlife but also threatens food security, disease resistance, and ecosystems essential for human survival. More than 75% of global food crops rely on wild pollinators to succeed, but wildlife populations are falling at an alarming rate. Since 1970, wildlife populations have declined by 69%, and more than 1 million animals face extinction in the coming decades.

Beyond accelerating rising temperatures and over-consuming finite resources, we also create immense harm through waste creation. Plastic waste has become a pervasive issue, with millions of tons of plastic entering our oceans annually, breaking down into microplastics that contaminate food chains and ecosystems and infiltrate our bodies from the brain to the reproductive organs.

Luckily, many companies are focused on developing more sustainable operations, limiting their resource consumption and waste while decreasing their planet-warming air pollution. Nearly a quarter of the world’s biggest businesses have already been tangibly impacted by climate change, and 92% expect to within the next twenty-five years.

How can our purchases address these issues?

Especially in America, where consumer spending drives two-thirds of the economy, our purchasing decisions can significantly influence these environmental challenges. An increasing number of companies have recognized the challenges and consequences of perpetual consumption on a finite planet and have started building more sustainability into their practices. By choosing products and companies that prioritize sustainability, we can compound the financial incentives to support practices that mitigate these negative trends.

Lowering Carbon Footprint: Purchasing energy-efficient appliances, electric vehicles, and products made with renewable energy can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, supporting companies that first reduce, then offset, their carbon emissions or invest in renewable energy projects can further decrease the incremental planet-warming pollution emitted into the atmosphere each year. Reducing demand for fossil fuels will lead to lower production.

Supporting Water Conservation: Choose products from companies implementing water-saving technologies and practices. That might include apparel brands using water-efficient dyeing processes or food companies recycling water in their manufacturing.

Protecting Biodiversity: Opt for products from companies with responsible supply chains. This might include commitments against deforestation or shifts to regenerative agriculture practices that promote biodiversity. Companies protecting ecosystems also might focus on “circular” business models with long-lasting products that can be easily repaired or upcycled, decreasing the consumption of natural materials.

Reducing Plastic Waste: Opting for products with minimal or recyclable packaging can help reduce plastic waste. Look for items packaged in biodegradable or compostable materials and support brands that use recycled content in their packaging.

How can I identify companies acting responsibly?

Identifying truly sustainable companies can be challenging, but several indicators can help.

Sustainability Certifications: Look for products with recognized certifications such as Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, USDA Organic, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). These labels ensure that the products meet strict environmental and social standards.

Transparency and Reporting: Companies committed to sustainability often publish detailed sustainability reports and set measurable goals. They provide transparent information about their environmental impact and progress towards sustainability targets. Check your Scoops app for all of this information on thousands of companies.

Terminology: Understand terms like "carbon neutral" and "net zero." Carbon neutral means that a company balances its carbon emissions with purchases of offsets - financial products representing a potential investment in emissions-reduction projects like carbon capture technology or tree planting. Net zero takes it a step further, indicating that a company aims to reduce its emissions as much as possible through operational and product changes, only offsetting the unavoidable emissions to emit net zero fossil fuel pollution into the atmosphere each year.

How else can I have an impact?

Beyond making sustainable purchases, there are other actions individuals can take to promote sustainability.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Embrace the principles of reducing waste, reusing items, and recycling materials whenever possible. This can significantly reduce the amount of waste in landfills and oceans.

Support Secondhand Markets: Buying secondhand items like clothing and electronics can reduce demand for new products and decrease environmental impact. Thrift stores, online resale platforms, and community swaps are great places to find secondhand goods.

Conserve Energy and Water: Simple actions like turning off lights when not in use, using energy-efficient appliances, fixing leaks, and taking shorter showers can conserve energy and water.

Advocate for Policy Changes: Support policies and regulations that promote sustainability, such as those that reduce carbon emissions, protect natural habitats, and encourage renewable energy use. Voting for leaders who prioritize environmental issues can drive larger-scale changes.

Hold Companies Accountable: In your Scoops app, you can follow and hold companies accountable for their impact on their employees, communities, and planet. Evaluate their actions and influence their approval ratings to demonstrate the value of responsible decisions. Request access here.

Earn Rewards for Sustainable Actions: Our partner, Future, rewards you for making sustainable purchase decisions with 5% cash back on everyday green purchases, from public transit to thrift shops. It’s a free debit card with sustainable lifestyle tracking. Sign up through our link here to get a FREE week of NYC subway rides. Future’s also running a competition for us. The Scoops reader with the most sustainable activity this month will EARN $500 CASH!

By making conscious choices in our purchases and daily habits, we can collectively drive the market towards more sustainable practices and contribute to a healthier planet.

Keep building,

The Scoop Team

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