The world is filled with passionate, green-hearted, environmentally conscious people who recognize the immensity of our world’s problems, who see a world spinning out of control. They want to do something about it. They must do something about it. Some are driven to support educational institutions like Dream in Green or Everblue, to spread the word by teaching others how they can reduce their environmental footprints. We celebrate the well-deserved victories. They include greener schools and more informed citizens who save resources, produce less pollution and save money. It’s true, these worthy gains should continue, but it’s just not enough. Some seek policy-based approaches such as banning plastic bottles in places like Miami Beach, which I support. But that’s still not enough.
If you want to really move the needle, you need to move the markets!
And whether you know it or not, you’re already doing it every day. You carry a tremendously powerful tool in your wallet or purse. It’s green and it has dead presidents printed on it, and you wield it almost daily. With every purchase, you cast a vote. What’s more, this is the most powerful vote you can make all year, and you get to vote every day. But is your voting informed? Are you supporting companies you loathe without knowing it? Are you casting informed votes? Are you paying attention?
Every time you make a purchase you cast a vote. Whether AT&T or Verizon, Budweiser or Heineken, Publix or Whole Foods, you’re sending a message. I want this, not that. Are you voting for excess packaging (see photo 1 at left) or are you voting for no packaging (see photo 2 at left)? To underscore this point, that your purchasing decisions actually drive change, take 3 minutes to Follow the Frog. I assure you, you’ll be happy you did.
Simple, market-based solutions, on a larger scale, provide the most effective way to drive desired change. This is known as impact investing. Of course this demands informed fiscal decisions. Whether you’re choosing a brand of toilet paper or a mutual fund, we’re all impact investors. Do you know what impact you’re having on the markets and the world?
In this TED talk, The investment logic for sustainability, Chris McKnett provides a more thorough, academic argument to support my position. I urge you to watch it and take heed.
Vote wisely, my friends!
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” – DALAI LAMA
Greg Hamra is a Miami native and a lifelong educator specializing in corporate sustainability, communications skills, green building, and general environmental pursuits. Greg is a LEED AP and the Senior Educator at Everblue.edu. Follow Greg on Twitter @greghamra.