We all know the reason we are here, staring into a climate crisis that could wipe out life on this planet. It is in large part because of greed / money. In particular a network of billionaires with interests in keeping the status quo has been funding a massive climate denial movement to keep us from progress. (Related reading Meet the Money Behind The Climate Denial Movement)
But we as individuals have also been complicit with our consumption habits, and how we blindly spend and invest our money.
So recognizing my own accountability - and in an attempt to take back my power - I set up a meeting with my financial advisor to discuss my investments. I wanted to know exactly what my money was funding. While what I had invested wasn’t a huge sum, I couldn’t bare the thought that perhaps some part could be invested in the destruction of our planet or private for profit prisons on our southern border.
While I waited in the lobby, readying myself emotionally to face-up to what I had personally been profiting from, I helped myself to a cup of coffee. The coffee in itself posed an eco-conciousness call to be made. The cups were compostable (whew), the sugar was bulk and in a recyclable card tube with a plastic top and bottom (not ideal), but the creamers were in those little non-recyclable plastic, single ounce servings. While I tend to like a bit of cream in my coffee, I opted to simply use a little sugar and forego personally contributing a piece of plastic to the garbage. It made me feel righteous saying “no” to that little container.
Seeing me dressing my coffee, another customer came over and helped himself. As he reached for the creamer next to me I sipped my coffee and casually chimed in “I wish those didn’t come in non-recyclable plastic servings”. A comment he in the moment seemed to shrug off, but I could tell the seed was planted. I know I caused him to reflect on his decision, perhaps it even followed him through the rest of his day. I was on a roll!
Then my advisor emerged from the back offices and ushered me back and we got down to business. We had just barely scratched the surface of what the various vague funds and bonds were invested in and had already discovered my money was supporting; big pharma (who recently hiked their drug prices 879%, great for investors, terrible for the terminally ill), banks notorious for funding pipelines, and probably a bunch of other ugly stuff. I didn’t explicitly find private security firms, but we had already seen enough for me to call it. My decision was made. I was out. I pulled every last dime.
Now I’m going to put my money where my heart is. I’m researching publicly traded; green technology companies, hemp futures and producers of sustainable goods. Is it riskier? Hell yes it is! But If climate change breaks everything we know, money will lose meaning anyway. Yet, if we do manage to turn the corner on getting government support for green infrastructure and legalization of a very versatile sustainable crop, I’ll be happy to know I provided the seed money. I’ll keep you posted on what fruit the research bears.
So I leave you with this. Consider the power of your dollars, and how the financial system at large is investing your money against our collective interests. (I highly recommend local credit unions for general savings and banking over the large national chains). Just think of the powerful signal we could send in the language of the greedy “few” if we all divested from the ugly stuff and threw our collective weight behind our beliefs.