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    Frequently Asked Questions

    How does Oroeco calculate my climate change impacts?
    What is CO2e?
    Is climate change real?
    Why should I care about climate change?
    How accurate are Oroeco's climate change impact calculations?
    Where else can I go to calculate a detailed climate footprint for my lifestyle?
    How do I create a Mint.com account?
    How can I change the category and/or subcategory of my impacts in Oroeco?
    How can I change the category of my transactions in Mint.com?
    How does Oroeco securely handle my Mint login?
    How is my cash impact calculated?
    How does my diet affect my impacts?
    Can I exclude transactions from Oroeco calculations directly from Oroeco?
    Should I exclude impacts from transfers between different accounts I own?
    Why does Oroeco not include impacts for paying my credit card bills?


    For additional questions, please contact us.


    How does Oroeco calculate my climate change impacts?

    Oroeco uses environmental life-cycle assessment (LCA) data to calculate the climate impacts of products, services, and investments, with values converted to CO2e (see below). We use a combination of product-level "cradle to grave" LCA and economic input-output LCA modeling. Our LCA data is peer reviewed by leading academic and government institutions and comes primarily from UC Berkeley's CoolClimate Network and the US Environmental Protection Agency.


    What is CO2e?

    CO2e is an abbreviation for carbon dioxide equivalent and is the standard international metric for reporting greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the metric Oroeco uses to report climate impacts. CO2e converts all greenhouse gases to their equivalent weight of carbon dioxide based on the global warming potential (GWP) of each greenhouse gas relative to carbon dioxide. For example, the warming impact of 1 ton of methane is about 25 times greater than 1 ton of carbon dioxide (using the standard 100 year GWP time horizon), so 1 ton of methane = 25 tons CO2e in Oroeco calculations. You can change whether your impacts are reported in pounds or kilograms by visiting your Account > Settings page.


    Is climate change real?

    Yes, and it's primarily caused by human activities (particularly greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and deforestation). At least that's what the overwhelming majority of scientists now think. If you're still skeptical, check out SkepticalScience.com to answer specific questions based on the best available science.


    Why should I care about climate change?

    There's still plenty of healthy debate about exactly how fast climate change will occur and what lasting impacts it will have on societies and ecosystems, but the vast majority of academically credible scientists (including every scientific body of national or international standing, the IPCC, and the National Academy of Sciences) caution that we must rapidly act to stabilize climate or risk a host of negative consequences, including droughts, fires, floods, extreme weather, heat waves, crop failures, famines, disease, melting glaciers and ice caps, rising sea levels, loss of sea ice, ocean acidification, invasive species, loss of habitat, massive economic losses, refugees, armed conflict over resources, and potentially over a hundred of million people dead along with the extinction of over half of Earth's species.


    How accurate are Oroeco's climate change impact calculations?

    There are several key variables that go into Oroeco calculations:

    1. Your financial transaction information
    2. Information you give us about your lifestyle and actual spending habits
    3. Oroeco's databases that quantify impacts based on life-cycle assessment (LCA) data

    The first thing you can do to make your impact calculations as accurate as possible is to make sure that all your Impacts are properly categorized and/or excluded. All financial transfers between your accounts and credit card payments should be excluded from Oroeco calculations in Impacts, and anything that is Uncategorized should be recategorized appropriately within Mint.com. As for the LCA data used by Oroeco, we're working hard to use the best available peer reviewed scientific data and we're constantly updating our databases to refine our calculations. However, the LCA databases we use generally represent average values rather than product-specific data, so there will always be some degree of error. We're constantly working to minimize this error and we appreciate any suggestions you have for doing so. We're confident we give you the best available real-time tracking of your impacts, as long as you're honest about connecting and categorizing all your transaction data in Mint.com and Oroeco, and we'll keep working hard to make Oroeco even better in the future.


    Where else can I go to calculate a detailed climate footprint for my lifestyle?

    There are lots of great personal climate footprint calculators. Our favorite is UC Berkeley's CoolClimate Calculator, which is constantly improving, and allows you to not only calculate your climate footprint, but also pledge actions that will save both money and the planet.


    How do I create a Mint.com account?

    First, go to Mint.com and click "Sign Up" (upper right). Then follow Mint's prompts to create your free account and link your credit cards, bank accounts, and investment portfolios to Mint (almost any US or Canadian financial institution you bank with online can be linked to Mint, as well as some international banks). If you're having any trouble setting up your Mint account check out Mint's help page.


    How can I change the category and/or subcategory of my impacts in Oroeco?

    1. Log directly into your Mint account and change the category for each transaction you want recategorized in Oroeco
    2. Update your data within Oroeco to grab the new category information.


    How can I change the category of my transactions in Mint.com?

    Log into Mint.com, then go to Mint > Transactions. Next, go through all your transactions to make sure your "Category" column is correct. If you'd like to change the category for a transaction just click on the category name, then click the arrows to the right of the category name and select an appropriate category out of the options that Mint provides. If you'd like to recategorize all transactions with a specific description, you can first recategorize one of these transactions (following the steps above), then click "Edit Details" below the transaction description, then check the box next to "RULES" that says "Always rename... and categorize..." The more recategorization rules you set, the more Mint will learn to automatically categorize your transactions correctly, and the less time you'll need to spend checking your transaction categorizations. If you're having Mint issues, visit their "Get Help" support service.


    How does Oroeco securely handle my Mint login?

    Oroeco does not store your Mint email or password. We securely connect to Mint on your behalf over SSLv3, the same cryptographic protocol that is used when you connect to Mint directly.


    How is my cash impact calculated?

    We assume that money withdrawn from an ATM is spent as cash. We make default assumptions each month about how much of the cash is spent on each category besides Other (for example Move, Live, or Eat). The assumptions are based on your spending in the past year. In other words, if half of your budget from the previous 12 months was spent in the Eat category, then we assume half of your cash for that month will be spent in the Eat category. We then calculate the average emissions per dollar factor for that particular category and month based on your spending in that category in the previous 12 months. We exclude flying, housing, and tuition from all these calculations because we assume you will never use cash to pay for those kinds of things. If there aren't 12 full previous months, then assumptions are built around the available months. The only exception is that cash transactions in the first month of available financial data are categorized as "Other" and we use a default factor for ATM transactions.

    Example:
    footprint(Eatcash) = Cash x Eat spending Total spending x Eat emissions Eat spending

    How does my diet affect my impacts?

    To calculate your diet impacts, the amount you spend on Groceries is multiplied by the emissions per dollar for Groceries. The default factor for Groceries is based on assumptions about the average price of a calorie of Groceries. Each subcategory in Eat has its own emissions per dollar default factor and price per calorie assumption.

    default factor = emissions $ x calories $ x emissions calorie

    The default factors assume that you eat different kinds of foods (meat, vegetables, dairy, snacks, etc) in the same proportions as the average American adult. Some foods such as beef and lamb have higher emissions per calorie than other foods. The average emissions per calorie based on the typical diet is 3.0 g CO2e. If you don't eat meat, your average emissions per calorie will be much less than the average.

    On your diet profile, the proportions of the different food categories are represented by the number of days a week the food is consumed. Adjust the sliders in order to better represent your own diet. Your diet factors will then be adjusted by the change from the average.

    new factor = default factor x emissions / calorie (your diet) average emissions / calorie

    You can also adjust how much organic food you purchase and how much food you purchase that is produced within a 100 mile radius. Eating 100% local reduces your footprint by 5% compared to not eating local at all. Eating 100% organic foods reduces your footprint by 10% compared to always eating conventional foods. The default factors assume 10% of your diet is local and organic.

    Right now the average number of calories you consume daily does not affect your diet impacts.

    Can I exclude transactions from Oroeco calculations directly from Oroeco?

    Yes! Just log into Oroeco, then click on Impacts. You can then exclude individual transactions from the "Exclude" column. If you have a transaction that repeats multiple times that you want to always exclude from Oroeco (say, a recurring financial transfer from one of your accounts to another), then you should "Exclude By Description" next to one of those transactions, which will exclude all transactions with the same description in the past and future. You can undo these exclusions at any time and you can review and edit your exclusion rules by visiting your Account > Settings page.


    Should I exclude impacts from transfers between different accounts I own?

    Yes! Financial transfers between accounts you own should be excluded from Oroeco impact calculations, at least as long as both your sending and receiving accounts are already connected to Oroeco through Mint.com. To do this, simply click the Exclude this Entry "X" next to the transfer in Impacts, or click the Exclude by Description "⦸" if you want to exclude all past and future financial transfers between accounts you control. We currently try do this automatically for you, but we can't easily figure out if you're transferring money to yourself or someone else, so we need your help to keep us from automatically excluding a transfer that should be included (like paying a friend back for something they paid for like rent, a flight, or your contribution to a raging houseparty). Some transfers in Mint also don't automatically get labeled as "Transfer", so you should make sure to manually exclude any transfers between your accounts that we miss!


    Why does Oroeco not include impacts for paying my credit card bills?

    We assume that the credit card bills you pay are for cards already linked to Oroeco through Mint.com. If this is true, then you've already tracked your impacts when you made each purchase, so calculating an impact for paying your bill would be double counting.