If the pledges and commitments at COP27 have inspired you to act with your money, check out our list below of the 10 best ways to make your money count.
1. Switch to a bank that is kinder to the planet
Most people in the UK bank with one of the Big Five – banks that, sadly, don’t have the best record when it comes to the environment. By switching to a green bank or building society your money can have a more positive environmental or social impact. We like Good Egg Triodos Bank, The Co-operative, Nationwide (which is currently offering £200 for new customers opening accounts), Cumberland Building Society and digital banks Starling and Monzo.
2. Choose a payment card that won’t harm the planet
If you’re a regular user of payment cards and apps like Revolut or Wise, you might not realise there are much greener card providers like Treecard, which offers a wooden physical payment card and plants trees via Ecosia whenever you spend on the card, and Tred, which offers a recycled plastic physical card, allows users to track the carbon footprint of their spending and also plants trees as you spend.
3. Put your savings with an ethical bank, building society or Sharia bank
By putting your savings with an ethical specialist you know you are using the power of your money for good. Providers like Good Eggs Ecology Building Society and Triodos Bank as well as Charity Bank say they use their customers’ deposits to fund only those organisations delivering positive environmental or social impacts.
4. Look at the carbon impact of your investments
New apps and websites like MotherTree, Sugi, Greengrowth and Etcho allow you to see the carbon emissions of your investment portfolio. MotherTree calculates the carbon impact of your money and also helps you switch to greener, FSCS-protected providers.
Sugi compares carbon data across more than 15,000 companies and a selection of investment funds and ETFs and also offers a ‘temperature check’ on your portfolio, to see how your investments are contributing to global warming.
GreenGrowth offers a short carbon footprint survey to show you where your daily life is having the biggest environmental impact, then uses this data to allocate portions of your investment portfolio to the sustainability theme(s) where it will make the biggest difference. Etcho allows you to learn the impact of your investments and discover opportunities matching your impact goals.
5. Choose sustainable investments and ISAs
Now you’ve assessed the carbon footprint of your investments, you might be inspired to move to more environmentally-friendly alternatives. This is not as tricky as you might think. A good place to start is our Good Investment Review which looks at a growing universe of impact funds.
Platforms like The Big Exchange (A Good Egg) and Interactive Investor, as well as wealth managers like EQ Investors (a Good Egg), all offer sustainable portfolios and are a really good place to start.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently announced a raft of proposed measures aimed at clamping down on greenwashing. This includes sustainable investment labels, disclosure requirements and restrictions on the use of sustainability-related terms in product naming and marketing.’ The consultation ends in January 2023 – watch this space!
6. Invest in the UK’s renewable energy revolution
With the Ukraine war increasing pressure on access to gas, possible reintroduction of fracking, and massive oil company profits, it’s no wonder the more sustainably-minded among us are increasingly inspired to look for more natural energy sources.
Investment platforms such as Good Egg companies Abundance Investment and Thrive Renewables, as well as crowdfunding platforms Ethex and Triodos Crowd all offer various options to access investment in renewable energy including onshore and offshore wind, solar, hydro and more.
7. Is your pension green?
Check out our Good Guide to Pensions, produced in partnership with PensionBee. This includes insights on some of the greener pension providers like Nest, Penfold and the Sustainable Pension Company. PensionBee also offers the FossilFree pension plan. MotherTree looks at the carbon impact of your pension (or your current account) and offers links to a range of greener alternatives. And you’ll find heaps of useful information on the campaign site Make My Money Matter.
8. If you need help to get your finances in order, choose an ethical IFA
A growing number of IFA firms and wealth managers offer advice on ethical and sustainable investments and can help you put your money to work for the planet. Path Financial, Bluesphere, Pennine Wealth Solutions and EQ Investors all hold the Good Egg accreditation, and Ethical Futures is listed in our Good Directory. For higher net worth investors, Castlefield offers a range of advisory services.
9. Find help to make your home green
Reading our Good Guide to Going Green at Home is a great place to start. The C-Change mortgage from guide sponsor and Good Egg company Ecology Building Society offers borrowers savings of up to 1.50 per cent on the standard variable rate. The discounts reward borrowers for creating an energy-efficient home, bringing reduced energy bills and a lower mortgage rate at the same time.
Naturesave offers green home and travel insurance by allocating 10 per cent of customers’ premiums to environmental projects. Tandem Bank, through its Allium home lending arm, offers green home improvement loans. Charity Bank is offering £1000 or £2000 cashback when you buy or build an energy-efficient building with its Sustainable Buildings Loan.
10. Consider a green energy provider
While the choice is not as broad as it was a few years ago, there are still a number of green energy providers to choose from. Bulb is being taken over by another green provider, Octopus, and you could also consider Ecotricity, Good Energy and GEUK. Also, OVO Energy has just launched a new Zero Emission Boiler trial, where its customers can receive a free boiler worth up to £7,500 including installation.
These suppliers strive to source as much of their electricity and gas as possible from sustainable sources and GEUK is the UK’s only supplier of 100 per cent green gas and renewable electricity.
For your complete guide to the best ethical and sustainable investment funds available to UK investors, see the latest Good Investment Review, produced in partnership with Square Mile Research and The Big Exchange.