The beginning of February is typically when you start to put into action all those plans you made but didn’t quite get round to at the new year, like servicing the boiler, or finally switching to cheaper deals on everything from energy to life insurance.
Add to the mix the pressure of making the most ethical purchasing decision we can, whether that is by buying renewable energy, using reusable coffee cups, or investing in companies that only make a positive contribution to the environment, and it’s no wonder it’s taking longer to get around to it.
Here are some quick wins for your money and the planet:
Switch your daily habit to disposable coffee cups
Each year, the UK throws away 2.5 billion coffee cups which contributes to the UK’s growing landfill problem. As recently highlighted on Blue Planet, this is a particular problem for marine life.
500,000 tonnes of plastic are sent to China every year for recycling but this trade has now stopped. Less than 1 in 400 coffee cups are recycled due to the difficulty in separating their plastic and paper parts.
Pret a Manger is trying to change this behaviour by introducing a 50p discount to people who use their own reusable cups when buying coffee from them. Taking part in Pret’s new scheme can help save the environment as well as cash.
On average, people in the UK visit a coffee shop 152 times a year. So changing behaviour to use reusable coffee cups could save just under £100; this saving could increase further if the Government follows through on the policy idea of a 25p levy on disposable coffee cups.
Go green with Bulb
Switching your energy can help you save the environment as well as cash. On average, households save over £300 a year by switching their energy provider annually. Doing so also creates a great opportunity to consider the environmental impact that your energy consumption is having.
Using a green energy supplier will reduce your carbon footprint as you will not be reliant on fossil fuels. Instead of using fossil fuels, green energy is made from renewable energy supplies such as wind, solar, and wave power.
Bulb, a London based green energy supplier startup, provides 100% green electricity, with 10% of its gas coming from renewable sources. The company frequently performs well in the cheapest deals on price comparison sites.
Invest ethically by using the Innovative Finance ISA
The ISA savings allowance limit in 2017/18 is £20,000. This means that it is possible to invest funds up to this threshold, and for them to grow, tax free. Due to the interest rate being set at 0.5 per cent, the returns offered by traditional cash ISA products are pitifully low, with those in the best performing table returning just over 1 per cent.
Inflation recently reached 3 per cent — its highest level since 2012— cash ISAs are not even retaining their value in real terms, meaning that the funds of investors have diminishing purchasing power (can buy you less and less over time) if they are kept in this vehicle.
The Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) is a relatively new ISA product; first introduced in April 2016, which allows investment into P2P loans and for them to grow, tax free, inside a wrapper. Crowd2Fund, one of the few platforms to be IFISA approved, offers an average APR return of 8.7 per cent to investors before fees and bad debts. To date there have been no formal defaults.
The platform offers a range of ethical investment opportunities. Historically, this has included Silo (the UKs first zero waste restaurant) and Tosh Products (creators of the reusable biodegradable Ecoffee Cup). Engreen Environmental Consultancy Ltd , the environmental consultancy firm, is currently listed on the platform, seeking a £100k loan. Established for 40 years, it is an engineering company that helps businesses operate in the most efficient and environmentally friendly manner.
Whilst the platform offers many new ethical opportunities, it is also possible for investors to buy and sell loan parts on a secondary market called The Exchange.
Investors can also transfer historic cash ISAs to Crowd2Fund’s IFISA to allow for associated funds to remain within the tax wrapper.