As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, people are looking for little ways to reduce their carbon footprint and live an eco-friendly lifestyle.
One great way to cut back on personal carbon emissions is to use a carbon zero credit card.
The Aspiration Zero helps you offset your household carbon emissions by planting trees in your name each time you swipe your credit card. What’s more, you can learn more about sustainable businesses – and even be rewarded each month you net carbon zero. Even the card itself is even made of biodegradable materials to reduce environmental waste.
What Does It Mean to Achieve Net Zero Carbon?
For an organization to become net zero-carbon emissions, they have to either:
- Not emit any carbon dioxide into the environment, or
- Remove the same amount of carbon dioxide that they emit.
A company can achieve carbon zero by a combination of relying on renewable energy sources, using sustainable manufacturing processes, and mitigating any emissions they do cause by planting trees to contribute to reforestation.
Carbon Zero, Carbon Negative, or Carbon Neutral?
With all the chat around how we can best combat climate change, the names can get a little confusing.
Carbon negative is the most ambitious of the three and is defined as “activity that goes beyond achieving net-zero carbon emissions to create an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere” (thanks to Plan A for the definition).
Carbon neutral, perhaps the most intuitive term, involves offsetting emissions by planting trees, which capture some CO2 from the atmosphere. This is the same thing as net zero-carbon emissions, discussed in the section above.
Net zero-carbon, on the other hand, refers to activity that doesn’t emit any carbon at all, and so no offset is needed.
Many policymakers aim to go carbon neutral because it requires less infrastructure and industry overhaul than cutting all greenhouse gas emissions. While planting trees is a step in the right direction, it will not solve the climate crisis and may incentivize people to overconsume.
However, at this time, humans cannot realistically halt all CO2 emissions and achieve true net zero-carbon, particularly in the agricultural industry.
We can aim to become virtually zero carbon by cutting 90% of carbon emissions through implementing renewable energy and sustainable manufacturing and transportation practices.
How Credit Cards and Banks Contribute to Climate Change
Financial institutions like banks and credit card agencies often support the fossil fuel industry.
Between 2016 and 2020 alone, 60 large world banks invested $3.8 trillion into fossil fuels. While fossil fuel financing decreased by 9% in 2020, climate organizations mainly attribute the drop to COVID-19 restrictions, and this 2020 value was still higher than it was back in 2016.
The top financiers of fossil fuels were JPMorgan Chase ($51.3 billion), Citi ($48.4 billion), and Bank of America ($42.1 billion). However, Bank of America has teamed with the World Wildlife Fund to distribute a sustainable credit card, despite contributing more to fossil fuels than WWF. Nonetheless, they wish to achieve net-zero emissions and rely on renewable energy.
Recent research shows that climate change could threaten the global economy, leading to instability and inflation. Some banks have taken action by donating to climate-friendly businesses, investing in sustainable projects, and reducing assets related to pollution.
Can Credit Cards Go Carbon Neutral?
In the past, nonprofit organizations have teamed with banks to create credit cards where a portion of your purchases goes to charity. However, these cards are not necessarily carbon neutral. Carbon neutral or carbon zero credit cards come from banks that actively work to eliminate environmental problems by not instigating them.
Standard credit cards contribute to pollution, and stacking each of them would result in a plastic mountain as tall as 13 Mount Everests. By replacing these destructive materials with biodegradable alternatives, we can reduce the amount of plastic pollution.
Eco-friendly institutions often strive to reduce the amount of mail sent to your home by offering digital and paperless services. Shipping goods via a modern truck could result in 60-150 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometer traveled and a metric ton of freight. Eco-friendly banks are more likely to only ship you a card if you have requested one, and are less likely to spam your address.
Ideally, credit card agencies can become more environmentally friendly by running on renewable energy and working to replant trees lost from deforestation. This can help to avoid the production of additional carbon emissions, and even mitigate those produced by other institutions.
A green credit card is manufactured sustainably by a company devoted to cutting back on climate change.
However, it is only carbon neutral if the institution releases little to no greenhouse gases and offsets any emissions that they do produce.
Many carbon zero credit cards offer fair interest rates due to their commitment to treating their customers ethically. They have transparent loan terms and conditions, so you know what you will spend on fees before getting charged. Also, many of them discourage overspending by teaching you how to cut back on your expenses through counseling and informational tools.
Some percentage of your proceeds may go to a charity, depending on the institution that provides the card. The company may also offer cashback reward tiers that increase when you spend more consciously, such as at eco-friendly companies or when you achieve carbon zero.
Enter the Aspiration Zero
The Aspiration Zero credit card can help you curb your carbon footprint. Every purchase you make results in a planted tree, even something as small as $1.50. Rounding up to the nearest dollar ($2.00 in this example) plants another tree.
Aspiration works with three reforestation partners: the Arbor Day Foundation, the Eden Reforestation Project, and One Tree Planted, and they are looking to expand this list. Each and every time you buy something over $1.50 with your credit card, one of the partners plants a tree in your honor.
Although plastic is a cost-effective material, it is not environmentally friendly. The Aspiration Zero card is biodegradable and compostable with a plant composition. Some other perks of the card include:
- An initial cashback rate of 0.5%
- A cashback rate of 1% after planting 60 trees in one month
- An annual fee of only $60
- An app that allows you to view your carbon footprint from purchases
While other credit cards may offer more money back, they do not work to offset your carbon footprint. Aspiration is a mission-focused financial institution, not profit-driven. Their goal is to help you reach net-zero carbon emissions each month.
How Aspiration Zero Helps You Go Carbon Neutral
Every year, the average American consumer emits 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide from their household, transportation, and food. Even the most eco-friendly communities release eight metric tons, compared to the global average of four metric tons per person.
One acre of most tree species removes 1.1 to 9.5 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.
Aspiration views you as carbon neutral if you plant 60 trees each month, equating to 720 trees each year. They plant various tree species, so you may want to view this number as more of a rough guide.
While your actual carbon footprint may vary from this number, it serves as a baseline for you to offset what you contribute. Even if you lead an eco-friendly lifestyle, you can help offset the emissions from other organizations and households.
The Aspiration app makes it easy to track your carbon footprint by ranking merchants based on their social and environmental ethics. You can see how well they care for their employees and how they impact the environment. This feature lets you track when you spend money on unsustainable goods and redirects you to eco-friendly resources.
By tracking each purchase and collecting data to show you the environmental impact of your spending history, Aspiration makes it easier for you to amend your habits to reduce your carbon footprint in addition to offsetting what you do emit.
Apply to Aspiration Zero Today!
The Aspiration Zero card is in its early access stage before its public release. If you want to invest in the environment now, you can sign up for the waitlist here. Simply entering your email address at this link will allow Aspiration to plant ten trees on your behalf.
If you’re interested in other ways you can spend more responsibly, you might want to consider some of the other services offered by Aspiration. Opening a checking account with us will help you plant trees as you shop, give you access to fee-free ATMs, earn your wages two days early, offset your gasoline emissions, get higher interest on your savings, get more money back, minimize fees, and more.
We refuse to lend your money to fossil fuel projects and instead invest in charitable organizations working to mitigate climate change. Transferring $1,000 to Aspiration is equivalent to driving your car 6,000 miles less in terms of the climate impact.
If you want to earn financial rewards for protecting the environment, get started with Aspiration today.