Monday, 17 May 2021

Congratulations! You are the engine that drives the American economy.

That's not an exaggeration. Economic data shows consumer spending currently makes up a whopping 70 percent of our gross domestic product.

You and your fellow consumers have a lot of power. Not just to drive sales, but to drive change. Now, more than ever, consumers understand they can wield that financial power to make a difference in the world.

According to numerous surveys, anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of consumers are deeply concerned about the environment. And while many of them are doing what they can at home — such as recycling, driving more fuel-efficient cars and avoiding single-use plastics — they're also “voting with their wallets." They're trying hard to do business with companies that are working to protect the environment and support sustainable lifestyles.

Research conducted by IBM found 57 percent of respondents said they would change their purchasing behaviors to support sustainability. Another survey found 30 percent of consumers currently make purchasing choices based on a company's sustainability efforts, and another 21 percent would like to start buying from environmentally friendly companies.

Guess what? It's working. Brands are stepping up their environmental stewardship in response to consumer demands. At the same time, many companies that have been quietly working on sustainability are now promoting their efforts to consumers.

And while consumers seem to understand what they put in their shopping carts can make a difference, they can also move the sustainability needle by strategically selecting what other companies they do business with. Here are some examples.

Green tech

Big tech companies consume huge amounts of electricity, and electricity production is the second largest generator of greenhouse gasses. That said, many tech companies are working to reduce their carbon footprint, mostly through renewable energy.

LinkedIn is working toward “zero waste" through its recycling and composting and the company's offices currently get 80 percent of their power from renewable sources.

Google relies 100 percent on renewable energy, and is one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable power.

Twitter plans to achieve 100 percent carbon-neutral power sourcing in its current data centers by the end of 2022. And by the end of 2020, the company aims to use 100 percent recycled paper products at all of its offices, in the U.S. and around the world.

Eco-friendly entertainment

Americans consume massive amounts of entertainment — think streaming services, movies and TV.  Creating and distributing that entertainment requires a lot of energy and water, and produces a lot of waste. The good news is that many of the world's top entertainment companies are taking steps to their industry's impact on the environment.

Netflix plans to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022. It is also investing in external projects around the world that remove carbon from the atmosphere and retain nature's ability to store CO2.

In 2018, Hulu migrated its data centers to a 100 percent renewable energy facility, a move it says eliminated 265,000 carbon tons of emissions from the environment.

Conscientious travel

Travel and tourism have a big impact on the environment. In fact, transportation is the top source of greenhouse gasses. But sustainable travel is a growing movement, and many companies in the travel industry are getting on board.

In 2018,  Airbnb launched its Global Office of Healthy Tourism, which aims to “drive local, authentic and sustainable tourism in countries and cities across the globe."

Delta Airlines has committed $1 billion to becoming carbon neutral over the next 10 years. And by 2025, Marriott Hotels aspired to reduce the environmental effect of their properties by 50 percent and commit to 100 percent of their properties being sustainability certified.

Better banking

You might not think banks play a role when it comes to supporting sustainability, but they do. A big role, in fact.

For example, BBVA, which was named the world's best investment bank for sustainable finance and the second most sustainable bank in the world, just announced a family of index funds specialized in sustainability. These indexes will drive investment into global companies aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2018, BBVA announced its Pledge 2025, which stated the company would mobilize 100 billion euros ($117 million) in sustainable lending by 2025. BBVA recently announced it had already achieved 50 percent of its goal and are ahead of schedule.

BBVA also has many other initiatives and strategic priorities, such as employee-wide sustainability training, that support a greener future.

All your dollars make a difference

Sustainability-driven consumers seem to have figured out what they purchase and who they buy from matters. But, truth is, consumers have the potential to make a difference and drive change not just through retail purchases, but with every dollar they spend.


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