Guest contributor Arielle Terry is a brand ambassador for Climatize, works for green banking startup Atmos, and is a longtime supporter of OneGreenThing. A regular attendee of our monthly workshops, she explains below her approach to climate action and greening personal finance.
Shame, guilt, anger, fear, and anxiety have deeply resonated with me in the face of the climate emergency. While I have always held an interest in climate change, for years I found myself immobilized by eco anxiety, convinced that my individual efforts would be insufficient to make a meaningful difference. The weight of this realization left me questioning, "Why should I even try to make changes?" It was far easier to distance myself from the crisis and remain in a state of denial.
Living in the scorching desert of Phoenix, Arizona, I have witnessed firsthand the escalating effects of climate change. The pressing issues of intense heat, water scarcity and air pollution plague the valley year after year.
2022 marked a turning point in my awareness of the climate crisis. When I read "Wallet Activism" by Tanja Hester at the beginning of the year, it ignited a fire within me to take immediate action. This incredible book prompted me to critically evaluate my purchasing decisions and recognize the power of my economic choices. It inspired me to align my values and beliefs with how I allocate my financial resources.
Rather than succumbing to eco anxiety or assuming that others would carry the burden, I channeled my frustrations into climate action. I recognized that climate change disproportionately affects marginalized communities, including individuals like myself as a black woman. This realization ignited a fervent passion for climate justice, compelling me to take an active stand. I refuse to remain a passive observer while people who look like me bear the brunt of climate change. I firmly believe that every person, regardless of their background, deserves a future characterized by livability and sustainability.
After immersing myself in climate literature, podcasts, and documents, I was shocked to learn that banks and retirement funds are actively investing in fossil fuels by financing pipeline projects, fracking operations, and oil extraction. I decided to divest my money from fossil fuels because I am determined not to contribute to practices that perpetuate inequality, environmental racism, private prisons, tobacco, fossil fuels, and deforestation.
I took action in the following ways:
Opened a bank account at a green banking institution, Atmos Financial. Atmos is a climate fintech company that is focused on financing the rapid transition to a clean economy for all through banking products and solar loans. Atmos uses 100% of its deposits to fund clean energy projects. (https://www.joinatmos.com)
Invested in solar and energy efficient projects through Climatize. Climatize is a climate fintech mobile app that empowers individuals to take climate action with as little as $5.
Moved my Roth IRA & brokerage accounts from a discount broker to a climate-friendly investment advisor, Carbon Collective (https://www.carboncollective.co)
Founded a Climate Employee Resource Group (Climate Crew) at my previous employer
Successfully advocated for my previous employer to add a climate friendly fund (SPFFX) to our 401(k) lineup (https://www.oursphere.org/)
Rounded up change to plant trees through my bank account
Donated to Climate Non-Profits
I want to acknowledge that the means, opportunities, and resources necessary to align financial decisions with personal values are not universally accessible. This realization fuels my passion for climate finance, as it highlights the urgent need for systemic change to address these inherent inequalities and strive for climate justice that leaves no one behind.
During my climate journey, I have come to recognize that even as an individual, my actions do matter. While my personal actions alone may not be the solution, I now understand the importance of collective effort. I have learned that change begins with individuals who are willing to challenge the status quo and demand transformative action.
Through taking action, I discovered the power I possess as both an individual and a consumer. We all have the power to create real change in the world with our money. Together, we can work towards a world that safeguards our environment, health, and the well-being of future generations.
What is one thing you can do today to make the world a better place?
Connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ariellenterry/
Arielle Terry, a dedicated climate champion, is on a mission to empower individuals and businesses to divest their retirement funds and cash from fossil fuels. Her unwavering passion for climate action has propelled her to create tangible change both in her personal life and within the workplace.
At her previous employer, Arielle initiated a climate employee resource group, demonstrating her commitment to fostering a sustainable workplace and inspiring others to take action. Her leadership and advocacy skills were further exemplified when she successfully lobbied for the addition of a climate-friendly fund to her company's 401(k) lineup, ensuring that employees had the opportunity to invest in climate solutions.
Arielle's remarkable contributions recently earned her recognition as one of the three inaugural winners of Consumer Coverage's Regenerative Futures Program. This accolade highlights her dedication to educating and inspiring individuals to channel their resources toward climate solutions.
With a resolute focus on empowering others to make financial decisions that align with sustainability, she continues to pave the way towards a greener, more sustainable future for all.