10 ways your money can help protect the environment

All eyes are on the climate for this Friday’s Earth Day, focused this year on investing in our planet.

Making ethical choices as a consumer should be easy, but all too often it seems to mean jumping through more hoops or spending more money.

Here, we’ve picked out 10 easy ways your money can help protect the environment.

1. Switch to a green bank

It’s easy and quick to switch your current account but how do you find one that’s good for the planet? Triodos is one of the most well-known green banks while The Co-operative Bank says it doesn’t invest in the oil or coal industry. You can find out a bank’s green credentials at the SwitchIt website or at Yourethicalmoney.org.

By 2023, UK financial institutions will be required to publish details of how they plan to hit climate crisis targets, so it should become easier to find out exactly what banks are doing to help the planet

2. Green investing

Picking ethical investments couldn’t be easier but, as always, don’t forget to pay attention to risk levels and any fees attached. Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: “It’s important to take the time to think about your values ​​and how you can achieve them through your investments.

“Do you want to divest from areas such as fossil fuels or gambling, for instance, or are you looking to invest in companies that are developing green technologies? Everyone is different and there are so many different approaches you can take. It is important to do your research to make sure the investment approach you choose reflects your values.”

3. Ethical grocery shopping

This is easier said than done, as the big supermarkets often have the cheapest prices and can be a lot easier to shop with, thanks to online shopping and their dominance of the high street.

But if you don’t want to pay the greenwashers, there are other options.

Local markets and shops are worth visiting, especially those with local produce, while tools such as Olio and Too Good To Go actively encourage local food swaps and link people to those with excess food to give away.

4. Borrow, don’t buy

The fashion industry contributes between 2 and 10 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Instead of adding to this, spending your money on second-hand items or renting instead of buying can help the planet and your wallet.

You can choose monthly subscriptions of second-hand clothes, such as children’s clothes website Bundle, or scan your local charity shops, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Freecyle.

5. Look for the B-Corp logo

The B-Corp certification is one way of identifying companies that prioritize helping the environment.

There are more than 700 in the UK from food and drink suppliers to clothes and finance companies. To obtain the certification, companies need to pass five different steps and every aspect of their business is analyzed from the supply chain to employee benefits.

6. Always check who underwrites an insurance policy

Most people have insurance for their cars, homes, and holidays, but you might buy a policy from a comparison website, which is sold by a financial firm and underwritten by a completely different insurer. You should be told who underwrites the policy when you buy, and this is the firm you need to research if you want to find an ethical insurer.

7. Don’t forget retirement savings

The market value of UK pension funds reached £2.6 trillion in September 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), but do you know where your pension is invested?

Pensions opened through an employer are often automatic schemes which involve little input from the saver. If you’ve been put into a default fund, look at what it’s invested in. If you’re not happy, you should be able to switch your pension to make it more eco-friendly.

8. Pick a green mortgage

Mortgages which promote energy-efficient homes are becoming more popular. They’re often cheaper than standard mortgages or offer discounts for a limited period.

However, they may only be available on new-build homes.

Rob Peters, principal at mortgage brokers, Simple Fast Mortgage, says: “Green mortgages might not be exactly as expected.

“Often the term ‘green’ refers to the high level of energy efficiency the property must have in order to qualify, rather than an eco-friendly standard the mortgage lender complies with.”

9. Environmentally friendly savings

Choosing a savings account with a high rate of interest should always be your priority, but you can also pick a provider that actively helps the environment. Triodos bank, for example, has a suite of savings accounts while NS&I’s green bonds contribute towards public spending to finance green projects.

10. Renewable energy sources

We shell out hundreds each month to pay for gas and electricity, but with a government commitment to reach net zero by 2050, gas boilers will be banned from new build homes in 2025.

If you’re switching to a ground source heat pump, or biomass boiler, you can apply for up to £6,000 to help with installation costs from the government. Switching to a more environmentally friendly energy provider, such as OVO Energy, will also help – if your budget allows.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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