September is a time of change – a new school term, new season.. and it could also be a fresh start for your money.
It can be easy to forget (or not even realise) that the money we spend, save and invest has an impact on the world around us, for good or for bad.
So before the leaves turn brown this Autumn, consider going green with your finances. It’s the single most powerful action you can take to help tackle major challenges like climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss and inequality.
It doesn’t have to be difficult, or even cost you anything. Here are eight easy ways to make your money as good as you are.
1. Switch to a bank that’s kinder to the planet
Moving the account you use for everyday spending is one of the easiest – and quickest – ways to make sure your money is planet-friendly. With some providers, like Triodos Bank, it can even make a positive impact.
The vast majority of people in the UK bank with one of the Big Five – banks that, sadly, have a very poor record when it comes to the environment. If you want to be sure your cash isn’t going towards financing industries or projects harming our world (such as fossil fuels, arms and tobacco), look for providers that are committed to not investing in them or who are explicitly backing green projects.
As well as ‘Good Egg’ Triodos Bank (which only invests in companies and projects making a positive impact), we like The Co-operative, Nationwide, Cumberland Building Society and digital banks Starling and Monzo.
2. Sort out your savings
By putting your savings with an ethical specialist you know you are using the power of your money for good. Providers like Good Egg mark firms Ecology Building Society and Triodos Bank as well as Charity Bank use their customers’ deposits to fund only those organisations delivering positive environmental or social impacts.
Ethical banks are also more likely to be passing on rises in the Bank of England interest rate to their customers – so your pocket will benefit, as well as the planet. See our top-paying sustainable savings accounts here.
3. Consider the carbon impact of your investments
You might think you’re keeping your carbon footprint low by recycling, cutting down on flights, and eating less meat – but what about your money?
Good Egg firm Sugi allows you to see the carbon emissions of your investment portfolio. It 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.
MotherTree calculates the carbon impact of your money and also helps you switch to greener, FSCS-protected providers.
4. 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.
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 first two have a minimum monthly investment of £25, while for Simply EQ it’s £100. Another useful resource is our free Good Investment Review – the latest edition is out soon – which looks at a growing universe of impact funds.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is set to bring in 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. Updated proposals are expected by the end of this year – watch this space!
5. Invest in the UK’s renewable energy revolution
With the Ukraine war restricting 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 company Thrive Renewables, as well as crowdfunding platforms Ethex and Triodos Crowd all offer options to invest in renewable energy in the UK including onshore and offshore wind, solar, hydro and more.
6. Green your pension!
The biggest pot of money you are likely to have (aside perhaps from your house) is your pension. So it can make a HUGE impact on the planet to make it 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. As well as an Impact Plan, PensionBee also offers the FossilFree Pension Plan. You’ll also find heaps of useful information on the campaign site Make My Money Matter.
7. Choose an ethical financial adviser
A growing number of independent financial adviser (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.
8. Find help to make your home green
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.
As well as the above, you might also find some of our Good Guides useful: check out our Good Guide to Net Zero, the Good Guide to Going Green at Home, The Good Guide to Pensions and our Good Investment Review.