MONEY AND SUSTAINABILITY
Whenever we engage with money in any way - spending, banking, saving, investing, giving, earning - we have an opportunity to encourage positive change and make the world a better place. This page is a growing guide of tips and resources that can help us to make more sustainable financial choices and manage our money in a way that is aligned with our values.
There is so much we can do. Take one category from your budget at a time and use the power of small steps to make lasting change.
Joe Biden is quoted as saying 'don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value'. Before making a purchase, ask yourself 'is this product/service/company aligned with my values?' and check for more sustainable alternatives before you commit. Read through last month's bank statement and highlight which transactions you're proud of from a sustainability perspective or mark the ones that don't reflect your values.
The five R's of zero waste are good for the planet as well as your bank balance: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.
RENTING/BUYING: Choose a home which provides only the size and space you need. Compare the Energy Performance Certificates of potential homes. Engage with landlords and property managers to make ethical energy and home improvements.
MORTGAGE: Ask providers or your mortgage broker for discounts available on energy-efficient homes. Ecology Building Society offers mortgages on properties and projects that have a positive environmental or social impact.
ENERGY SUPPLIERS: This is a great article from Which reviewing the options for green energy. Big Clean Switch only lists tariffs from suppliers who guarantee that 100% of the electricity sold is matched from renewables (e.g. sun, wind and water). Ask your energy providers or read their websites for tips/free tools on how to reduce usage. Compare ethical scores of different providers here.
INSURANCE: ETA sells travel, home, cycle and breakdown insurance. They are a carbon neutral company where you can also offset your own carbon footprint.
MOBILE PHONE BILL: Ecotalk by Ecotricity uses 'the money from our customers’ bills to give land back to nature, creating vital new habitats for Britain’s wildlife'.
INSURANCE: The Good Shopping Guide has a comprehensive table ranking a range of insurance providers, from home and car to pet insurance.
TRAVEL: Choose greener options where possible or offset your carbon footprint when sustainable alternatives aren't available.
BUDGETING: Feeling in control of your spending, and planning (where possible) how and where you will spend your money, will give you more headspace to make better spending decisions that are aligned to your values. Panic buys can sometimes mean compromising on your values and being broke can force you to base decisions solely on the cheapest option.
Don't assume that sustainable spending means 'more expensive'. Ethical choices can save you money at the same time and be competitively priced.
Follow sustainable fashion, zero waste and sustainability accounts on social for ethical CLOTHING, FOOD and HEALTH&BEAUTY choices.
Banks use the money we store and save in our accounts for investments and lending elsewhere. You can see how your bank ranks on a number of ethical issues on the Your Ethical Money website, so you can choose a provider that manages your money in a way that is aligned to your values.
Contact your current bank(s) and ask them for ethical account options on offer and for details on their sustainability policy.
Look for banks that have been awarded The Good Egg, 'a registered trademark that can only be used by financial services companies that are able to prove they make a positive impact, not just by improving the lives of customers, but by benefiting society and the environment, too.'
SAVING & INVESTING
SAVINGS ACCOUNTS: Review the savings accounts on offer from the providers in the 'BANKING' section above or research others online.
ISAs: Look for cash ISAs on offer from sustainable banking providers and research ethical investment options for your stocks and shares ISA.
INVESTING: Some sustainable investment funds screen out 'bad' companies. Others only invest in 'good' companies. Some invest to tackle climate change, others to address gender equality. There are no clear criteria to directly compare options, and there are hundreds of options out there! Boring Money explains ESG investing here and you can filter their fund providers table by ethical providers here.
INVESTMENT PLATFORMS: Many now provide sustainable/ethical/ESG funds. I've listed a few here, but there are lots of others too: Vanguard, Wealthify, Tickr, Nutmeg, Triodos, Abundance, Hargeaves Lansdown, Fidelity.
The Big Issue is launching The Big Exchange, which will be the UK's first ethical investments only platform. Join the movement here.
PENSIONS: Ask your employer if they offer ethical or sustainable investment funds as part of your pension offering. If you're self-employed, look for ethical/sustainable/ESG funds through your pension provider or online investment platform. Share Action found NEST to be the only major auto-enrolment pension provider that has targets to reduce exposure to climate-change-related risks and they offer ethical funds with high standards of positive impact.
FINANCIAL ADVICE: If you are seeking professional financial advice, always emphasise your sustainability values to potential advisers and seek comfort that they will be taken into account before committing to working with them. You can also check whether advisers are a member of the Ethical Investment Association, 'an association of financial advisers from around the UK, dedicated to the promotion of green and ethical investment'. EQ investors are well-known for their focus on positive impact investments.
GIVE & SUPPORT
Make space in your budget, however small, to donate to a cause(s) that really matters to you.
A guide on How to Buy Carbon Offsets from the New York Times.
Subscribe to offset.earth.
Donate to Share Action, the charity that campaigns for a more responsible investment system.
Encourage your employer to become a partner of Climate Perks that incentivise staff to take holidays without flying.
Have conversations with those you exchange gifts with about how to give and receive more sustainable gifts that are aligned to your values.
#TOGETHERBAND is a global movement aiming to raise awareness of, and build a shared commitment to, the Sustainable Development Goals. 'Each pack contains two #TOGETHERBANDs so... you can share your goal with someone important to you. When you buy your #TOGETHERBAND 100% of the proceeds from each sale are used to spread the word about the Global Goals and fund life-changing projects to build a better future for us all.'
Ethicalconsumer.org is a one-stop-shop for becoming a more ethical consumer.
The Green Providers Directory is the UK’s leading directory of eco-friendly, fair trade and ethical companies.
Arabesque S-Ray is a 'unique tool that allows anyone to monitor the sustainability of over 7,000 of the world’s largest corporations', taking into consideration the UN Global Compact, Human Rights, Labour Rights, and environmental, social and governance factors, amongst others. This can help you to make more informed consumer choices and investment decisions.
Choose to save and spend with companies that are registered B Corps
Look for investment funds that carry the 3D Investing rating.
Look out for the Ethical Consumer Best Buy logo on any websites/companies you transact with.
Ethical Consumer Podcast about personal ethical finance (16 minutes)
Kate Raworth is an economist and the author of Doughnut Economics, which offers a new sustainable economic model on how 'to meet the needs of all [people] within the means of the planet'. Her Ted Talk is excellent.
'Money: A User's Guide' has a great chapter on Ethical Finance: "the idea that taking an ethical view on your money means compromise on financial returns is outdated" - Laura Whateley.
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