As post-pandemic life begins to emerge, it’s worth thinking about how our economic recovery from COVID-19 can be a sustainable one.
“The consumer is going to be key because the consumer is 70% of the U.S. economy, so we’re not going to have a recovery if the consumer doesn’t come back and spend,” says Scott Anderson, Chief Economist for Bank of the West.
With that in mind, below are 8 simple things we can all do to help rebuild a healthier, more sustainable world.
#1 Shop local: Goods made locally can be more environmentally friendly than those made in big factories and shipped thousands of miles to retail outlets. At the same time, small local businesses – which often play essential social roles in towns and neighborhoods – have been hit especially hard by shelter-in-place orders. So by shopping local, you can help the planet and your hometown.
–Scott Anderson, Bank of the West, Chief Economist
#2 Support small businesses: Much like shopping local, supporting small businesses is a crucial element for creating a sustainable recovery that provides widespread equity and opportunity. Whether you shop at a brick-and-mortar store near your home or order from small business online, you’ll be supporting a sector of the economy that’s bigger than you might realize.
“Small businesses are going to be key to any sort of economic recovery,” Anderson says. “There’s about 30.2 million small businesses in America. They represent over 99% of businesses in the country and employ almost half of all employees in the U.S., so you’re not going to get an economic recovery without a strong recovery in small businesses.”
#3 Track your carbon footprint: You can’t manage what you can’t measure, as the axiom goes. But today it’s easier to measure your personal carbon footprint. One tool for doing so is Bank of the West’s 1% for the Planet checking account, which uses a product from the fin-tech company Doconomy to estimate the carbon footprint of the goods you buy. Once you have an idea of your carbon footprint, reducing it becomes easier.
#4 Review your finances: The money you put in the bank actually gets sent back out into the world to finance things. Whether your money finances Arctic drilling or funding sustainable energy depends on where you put it. So it’s worth asking: What on earth is my bank financing? The same goes for money in your 401(k) account or investment account. Once you know what your money is financing, you can move your money so it’s working in tandem with your personal values.
#5 Vote with your dollars for conscious companies: If a company’s values don’t match your own, are you sure you want to support them with your dollars? Here, a little research can go a long way. Look beyond marketing slogans to find companies that are certified B-corps, meaning their social and environmental practices have been vetted and approved by an impartial third-party.
During the COVID economic slowdown, photos have emerged showing crystal-clear air in places that are typically covered in a film of smog. Could this be a preview of a more sustainable economy to come? Perhaps.
–Scott Anderson, Bank of the West, Chief Economist
#6 Rethink how and where you travel: Travel is one of the most significant ways ordinary consumers support the economy. But as we strive for a sustainable recovery from COVID-19, it’s worth reconsidering how and where we travel. For example, a study by climatologists found that a single passenger’s share of emissions on a 2,500-mile flight is enough to melt 32 square feet of Arctic summer sea ice.
Vacationing to locations a closer to home means a lighter carbon footprint, whether that’s due to less driving distance or not taking an emission-heavy commercial flight.
#7 Ponder pre-owned products: From clothes to furniture to cars, new-to-you doesn’t have to mean new to the world. Saving items from the landfill or junkyard reduces waste and conserves resources. For example, producing a single pair of jeans can require about 3,800 liters of water. Saving money while saving the planet—what’s not to like?
#8 BYOB(ag): Single-use paper and plastic bags are so 20th century. Bringing along a backpack, tote, or other reusable bag when you shop might not seem like much—but if you do it regularly that will add up to thousands of single-use bags saved. As we begin to recover from COVID-19, changing all our bad habits will add up to a new normal that’s not only new, but better.
1) With 1% for the Planet with Any Deposit Checking the $10.00 monthly service charge is waived with one deposit of any amount each statement cycle. Deposits include direct deposit, mobile deposit, ATM deposit, or in-branch deposit of any amount. Does not include fund transfers between Bank of the West accounts or any credits from Bank of the West. Monthly service charge is also waived if any account owner is under age 25.
2) The carbon impact tool for 1% for the Planet with Any Deposit Checking account, uses the Åland Index, a cloud-based service for carbon impact calculations to provide a measurement of the potential carbon impact of purchases made with the debit card for your 1% for the Planet with Any Deposit Checking account. The calculation is based on the Merchant Category Code assigned to your debit card purchase and indicates the classification of goods or services a company provides, as well as the amount of the purchase. The actual carbon impact may be higher or lower than measurement provided. The Åland Index is the leading index solution for carbon emission calculations for payments and financial transactions. To learn more visit alandindexsolutions.com. Bank of the West does not control or guarantee the accuracy of the information provided by the Åland Index and makes no representation or warranties regarding the services.
3) The 1% for the Planet debit card is made from 100% compostable/biodegradable PVC, however, the EMV chip, magnetic strip, ink and hologram are not biodegradable
4) Net revenue is defined as fees charged directly to the account, plus interest income, minus losses. Net fees is gross fees charged less reversals. Interest income is defined as the lowest end of the target Fed Funds range during the time period being assessed, multiplied by the average balance of the account and the percent of days in the year during which balances were held. Debit card revenue is not included in the account revenue calculation.
Where You Put Your Money Matters
At Bank of the West, your deposits do not finance Arctic drilling, coal-fired power plants, fracking, or big tobacco. Instead, they are helping fund more than $1 billion in renewable energy projects.