First published February 2021
If you’re reading this blog, the chances are high that you’re already an eco-warrior of one sort or another. You probably cycle instead of driving, recycle all your soya yoghurt pots or even make your own yoghurt from your pet goat’s milk. All of those things are great, of course - but individual actions like these can only go so far. And we can all feel helpless knowing our actions are just a drop in the bucket compared to those of the organisations and governments who continue to act as like ostriches, with their heads firmly stuck in the sand.
One way we can contribute towards making changes at a wider level is to think carefully about how we invest our money, whether we’re starving church mice with only £30 in a current account or fat cats with thousands in stocks and shares. As it happens, finances are also the topic of this month’s West Bristol Climate Action challenge, so this is a great time to think about how you can invest your money in a way that helps rather than harms the planet.
Photo by Clayton Robbins on Unsplash
(Also, since thinking about banks, money and investments hurts my head and might hurt yours too, I’ve inserted some references to cute animals throughout this blog. Points to anyone who can spot all 14 animal references.)
1. Change banks
Many banks invest in fossil fuels, with HSBC and Barclay’s being the biggest offenders. In 2019, it was found that Barclay’s bank remains Europe’s biggest funder of fracking and coal, having poured $85 billion into fossil fuels. HSBC funds coal plants in Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam.
The Co-Op Bank are one better option, as they have a fairly comprehensive ethical strategy and do not invest in fossil fuels. As one of their customers, I contacted the Co-Op Bank to ask about their investments.
They replied saying:
“We support small businesses and organisations whose activities promote a healthy environment and we seek to minimise our impact on the environment. We provided lending of £18,503,235 to renewable energy companies in 2020.”
However, the best bank for climate-change-combatting-coyotes like you and I is Triodos, which actively invests in renewable energy sources. You can switch to Triodos via their website. It will only take seven days to complete the switch and should be hassle free. If you have multiple accounts, you might want to consider switching them all to Triodos.
2. Pensions and investments
As with banks, there are many pension companies out there which will take your hard-earned money and put it to work destroying the planet. If you’re unsure about where your pension money is being placed, write to the company in question about ask them what their top 10 investments are. You might be in for a nasty surprise. Even if you can’t change your pension, you can let them know your opinion and ask them to consider looking for more ethical places to invest their money.
If you can switch your pension fund, you might want to consider looking at Nest, which isn’t a home for owls and eagles, but is instead a pension fund which only invests in companies with high ethical standards. I signed up for an account while writing this blog, which was quick and easy to do.
Photo by Stephen Phillips - Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash
There are also several climate-friendly investment companies you could consider investigating. Trine, who invest money into renewable energy in developing countries, are one. The Big Exchange are a new initiative from the brains behind the Big Issue. They invest money into projects which lower carbon emissions, protect wildlife (such as lions, tigers and bears, oh my!) and contribute to social housing. I’ve been investing via the Big Exchange for a while and have found the whole system simple and easy.
Personally, I find the topic of finances enough to make me want to hibernate (just like a hedgehog, bumblebee or fat-tailed lemur). But if you want to learn more about eco-friendly ways we can make money work for us, you might be interested to learn about Doughnut Economics. And no, that isn’t how you can make money by gorging yourself on vegan Krispy Kremes.
Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash
It fact, doughnut economics are, ‘regenerative, distributive economies that work within the planet’s ecological limits. Kate Raworth wrote a book on the topic and can also be seen giving a 15 minute TED talk on her ideas here.
4. Contribute to West Bristol Climate Action!
If you enjoy these blogs or our monthly talks on how to live a more sustainable life, please consider donating to our group. We need contributions to keep going - all are gratefully received! You can donate via our PayPal page here or contact us to find out how to make a direct bank transfer. Monthly contributions are as welcome as a pony at a six year old’s birthday party, so please don’t hold back.
If you have any tips for ways to boost your bucks without harming our home, please post them in the comments box below.