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Can You Work Out How To Spend Your Money To Slow Global Warming?

It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of climate change, but how you spend your money can make a difference.

Posted on April 26, 2019, at 3:04 p.m. ET

Federico Parra / AFP / Getty Images

Every time you open your wallet, the choices you make affect how quickly the world will warm.

Corporations are trying to limit their greenhouse emissions, but some are doing better than others. To test your credentials as a green consumer, BuzzFeed News obtained data from the environmental accounting firm Trucost, part of S&P Global, for the three top-performing US companies in each of six categories, judged by their emissions in metric tons of carbon dioxide per million dollars in revenue. This allowed us to award them gold, silver, or bronze status, based on their performance in 2017 — the most recent year in the data.

  1. You need to stock up on groceries and household supplies. Which store will you visit?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Costco is focused on energy efficiency in its warehouses, and has a goal of keeping the growth of its carbon footprint smaller than the growth in sales.

    Via Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News / Via Trucost
  2. What cosmetics will you buy?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Estée Lauder’s goal is to be carbon-neutral by 2020. Part of the company’s climate strategy includes purchasing carbon offsets to counter its emissions.

    Via Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News / Via Trucost
  3. Where will you shop for some new clothes?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    In 2014, Nordstrom said it would reduce the intensity of its energy use by 15% by 2020. It has already exceeded that goal.

    Via Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News / Via Trucost
  4. You need to grab lunch and coffee. Where will you go?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    McDonald’s set a goal to reduce the intensity of its greenhouse gas emissions by 31% across its supply chain by 2030 from 2015 levels. The latest Trucost data shows that the company is making progress.

    Via Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News / Via Trucost
  5. OK, flying is about the worst thing you can do for the climate. But you must get to your friend’s wedding, which is on the other side of the country. Which airline will you choose?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    There’s no ignoring the huge emissions numbers for any airline, but United has made some progress in improving the fuel efficiency of its fleet of aircraft.

    Via Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News / Via Trucost
  6. And where will you stay?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Providing home comforts, like air-conditioning and freshly laundered bed linens, uses energy, but Wyndham has managed to keep its greenhouse emissions low.

    Via Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News / Via Trucost

For more from this series, click here.

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