Something has shifted in America. Kids are on strike, and a children's lawsuit on climate change is making its way through the court system. A Green New Deal is gaining traction. A candidate has stepped into the Democratic presidential primary lineup on a climate platform. 69% of Americans are concerned about climate change, according to a Yale University poll. Mayors and governors are stepping up to help the US try to keep its Paris commitment. Big banks are adjusting their investment strategies to look at climate risk. Companies are reporting on those risks and working to reduce emissions. Lyft offsets the carbon emissions caused by its rides, and now Etsy has announced it will offset emissions caused by shipping products sold on its e-commerce platform, by supporting forest conservation in Minnesota, and investing in renewable energy in India to replace coal, diesel, furnace oil and gas.
Everyone wants to do their part.
Here is a partial list of tools for entrepreneurs who want to act now on climate. Please add to this list in the comment section if you can suggest other tools.
1. Use video conferencing and virtual meeting options when possible. If you must travel, purchase carbon offsets to offset your emissions. Many major airlines allow you to purchase offsets when you purchase a ticket on their website.
2. Purchase offsets for company cars. Calculate your footprint and work to reduce it while purchasing carbon offsets that support actual emission reduction projects with an offsetter such as South Pole Group, Carbon Credit Capital, 3Degrees, or the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
3. Use Kickstarter's Environmental Resources Center, a first-of-its-kind guide aimed at people and teams in the early stages of creating a new product. It provides production-specific environmental tips and helps you consider the impact your products have, and will continue to have, on the environment.
4. Utilize the Environmental Defense Fund's Supply Chain Solutions Center. This online center provides a roadmap to help you work toward aligning your business and environmental goals. It helps you find sustainability resources to assist you in solving your specific challenges. The goal is "to make finding sustainability solutions as easy as finding a movie on Netflix or a song on Spotify" -Elizabeth Sturcken, managing director of EDF+Business.
5. Hire an EDF Climate Corps fellow. Using a fellow for a short-term project can help you achieve your sustainability goals. These trained young people are equipped with a fresh perspective and knowledge of best practices. They are prepared to support your organization on a variety of sustainability projects, including supply chain sustainability, renewable energy, setting greenhouse gas targets, and scaling energy efficiency.
6. Understand your supply chain. Look beyond simply the financial costs in your supply chain and understand the environmental impacts as well. Aim to reduce emissions in your supply chain.
7. Adopt an internal carbon price. Putting a price on carbon is becoming the new normal for many companies and is an essential part of a climate change or risk mitigation strategy. It also helps to ensure sustained economic competitiveness by preparing for a low-carbon economy.
8. Apply for a green office certification. In the process, you will guide your office towards healthier, more sustainable practices. If you work in or use buildings, you might want to look into the requirements for a LEED green building certification, WELL Certification, or Living Building Challenge.
9. Consider a 401K plan that includes an "ESG" (Environmental, Social and Governance") option. Surveys show growing millennial interest in aligning their investments with their values.
These are a few of the tools available to busy professionals wanting to green up. Remember that it's much more important to actually take these steps than to communicate about them too early on; critics will be quick to accuse you of "green washing" if there isn't strong substance underlying what you communicate.
But don't let fears of being criticized stop you from taking a step forward. Sustainability is a journey, and now might be a good time to start.
Alexandra Criscuolo, a former EDF Climate Corps fellow who developed Kickstarter's Environmental Resources Center, contributed to this post.