Green Money: Saving The Planet With Our Finances

Disclaimer: This post has not been produced by a financial advisor and does not constitute financial advice. We hope this is an introduction to the world of eco-conscious investments, but we recommend seeking professional, independent advice before taking any action.

Now more than ever, it has never been more important to reduce our impact on the planet. As we begin taking mindful steps to minimise our carbon footprint from ditching fast fashion for second-hand steals, using public transport and going vegan, we are considering more eco-conscious alternatives to our everyday living. While we become more aware of our environmental impact, we often overlook our money. Unfortunately, our cash has a carbon footprint too. This year make your money green and use your finances to help save the planet. Choosing sustainable investment funds and green banking is the next step on your eco-friendly journey.

Money has power and social influence that we can utilise to make positive steps to help decarbonise the planet. When discussing investments, whether that’s the latest investment piece for our wardrobes or investing in our homes, we often overlook the power of consumer choices. Putting money into positive social change is a great way to become more active in the fight against climate change. Celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio helped create the blueprint for sustainable investing. The climate activist has set up his namesake environmental charity, raising around $100 million to help drive environmental investments across all sectors.

So can your money really help save the planet? As American author, Anna Lappé says, “every time you spend money you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want”. Whether you are changing to a green energy provider or buying local, you are helping to shift the narrative on climate action. This year, make your money green, so you can invest, save or bank with a clear conscience.

Swap to an ethical bank

As our hard-earned cash stays snug in our bank, we never know where it’s going. Unfortunately, traditional banks are not very transparent, and it can be almost impossible to find out where your bank is investing your pennies. Between December 2015 and September 2019 £150 billion was invested in fossil fuels by UK banks. It comes as no surprise then that consumers are beginning to question where they keep their money. It’s time to make a swap and choose banks that are going green so you can rest easy knowing your everyday spending isn’t financing industries that are harming the planet.

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Discovering a new way to keep your money safe, Triodos is one of the UK’s most conscious banks. Putting the environment first, Triodos is committed to financing investments that make a positive impact on people and the planet. Leading the way for sustainable banking, this Bristol-based bank is part of a group founded in the Netherlands. Triodos focuses on transparency and green investments such as eco-tourism and social housing. This digital bank even includes recyclable, plant-based debit cards. This is the future of green investments in the UK.

The Co-operative is one of the only high-street banks to ban support for the fossil fuel industry and has recently reinstated its mission on ethical investing. Digital banks such as Starling have also committed to investing in companies that promote a positive impact on the planet, however, they are less transparent than Triodos. Another green investment group that’s leading the way is the Charity Bank, which has invested over £11 million in environmental projects since 2002. The Ecology Building Society also supports green and ethical initiatives.

Before switching banks, it’s best to do your research and see what’s right for you or speak to a qualified financial advisor. If switching current accounts to a more green bank means your salary is supporting eco-friendly initiatives, then we are all for it.

Make your pension green

Saving money for our future pensions is one of the most important parts when handling our money. Unfortunately, our hard-earned cash could be invested in the fossil fuel or weapons industry. It’s estimated that there is around £2.6 trillion invested in UK pensions, and a lot of it is financing industries that are harming our planet.

This doesn’t mean your retirement fund has to continue supporting negative investments. Moving your pension to a more ethical and sustainable fund is a great way to become more eco-friendly.

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According to the campaign group launched by Love Actually director Richard Curtis, Make My Money Matter, estimates that getting a green pension is 21 times more powerful at cutting your carbon footprint than giving up flying, going vegetarian and switching energy providers combined! Celebrities such as Stephen Fry have also joined the debate encouraging people to switch to green pensions. Inspired by the data that suggests that our pensions have a critical role to play in helping promote climate action, people are beginning to go green for retirement.

Luckily for us, it’s easier than we may think. Workplace pension schemes are beginning to offer ethical options you can switch to or are setting targets to reach net-zero carbon emissions for their holdings. If your workplace doesn’t have any ethical or sustainable funds to invest in then let them know it matters to you. Our pensions are a wealth of resources, and these pots of money can help build a better world for all.

What is sustainable investing?

With the rising awareness of the need to act on climate change, investing sustainably has become the latest eco-trend. It’s time to start paying attention to sustainable investment funds.

Investing ethically not only helps your money grow, but you can invest in projects that feel most aligned with you. From funds promoting biodiversity, green energy or social housing, sustainable investing is a great way to become more eco-friendly this year. Platforms such as Nutmeg and Wealthify are what you would call ‘robo-advisers’. They offer ready-made ethical investment accounts and select funds that are suited to your goals. These companies exclude investments in tobacco, mining, weapons and fossil fuels. Choosing investments that are on the right side of the climate transition and promote positive progress is the step in the right direction.

Save the planet

Investment apps such as The Big Exchange, Interactive Investor or Clim8 all focus on being platforms where you can fund your money on investments that support environmental, ethical and social change.

Be aware that greenwashing isn’t just found in the fashion world. Consider whether these investments have a genuine impact and do your research. There has been a flood of investments into Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) funds, yet InfluenceMap, a think tank, found fewer than half of the funds were focused on tackling climate change. Like all business transactions, being aware of the footfalls is important.

Investing in sustainability was high on the agenda at the COP26 meetings last November in Glasgow. Ensuring the future of green investments are more effective and carefully regulated will mean we can spend our money wisely and safely. Shifting our finances to help decarbonise the planet, whether that’s investing in green energy, changing to ethical banks or choosing conscious pensions, is how our savings can help save the planet.

We understand it can seem a little daunting when deciding your next sustainable investment, and of course, like any investment, sustainable investments carry risks. We recommend finding a financial advisor to help you choose the best investments for you. Also, check out our post here on ethical investing to discover more.

Remember if you decide to leave your bank or move your pension, don’t go quietly. As customers, we hold more power than we realise and let them know the reasons you’re leaving. It doesn’t matter how much you have, money can be your hidden power to help build a better future.

At Wearth, we are big believers of progress over perfection, so if making your money green is a little daunting, we suggest starting small. Whether that’s buying loose fruits and veg instead of those wrapped in plastic, renting clothes or donating to charities are all great ways to start using your money more consciously.