One New Year’s resolution some people will have in 2021 is to be become more environmentally friendly.
While this will no doubt include recycling more and using tote bags instead of plastic alternatives, consumers can also make a huge difference to the planet by going green with their money, according to consumer group Which?
How you spend your cash and where you keep it often has a direct impact on the environment whether you’re paying your monthly bills or paying into your pension.
There are a number of steps consumers can follow to be more green with their money in 2021
This could be due to unwittingly funding everything from the development of renewable energy to the extraction of fossil fuels.
To help, This is Money and Which?, have put together a list of steps you can follow to become greener in 2021.
1. Switch to a greener bank
Many people may not question whether their bank account is ethical. However, big banks are some of the biggest funders of fossil fuel, a major cause of damage to the environment.
It can be hard to find what your bank’s climate change policy is as the information can be hidden away – three quarters of Which? members saying in November they don’t know what their bank’s policy is.
Try and find out by speaking to your bank and doing some research – and if you’re not happy with it, switch to a greener option.
You could try an ‘ethical bank’ such as Triodos or simply pick a high street brand whose climate standards better align with yours.
Co-op Bank, Nationwide Building Society and Starling Bank have all said they don’t lend to fossil fuel companies.
Whilst some banks are greener than others, some consider ethics as their main selling point.
Triodos, as mentioned above, is perhaps the most well-known of these – its business model is based around sustainability and it is completely transparent about where it invests customers’ money.
Newcomer, TreeCard, is also the first firm to have a wooden debit card. It is due to launch in 2021 with 80 per cent of profits pledged to go towards reforestation.
A possible downside of these banks is that they are often online only, meaning they only fit those who don’t mind not visiting branches.
Opening an ethical bank account could help you lower your carbon footprint in the new year
2. Make ethical investments
There are now more than 2,500 ethical investment funds on the market, with many showing encouraging returns.
Ethical investing essentially means backing companies that are focused on reducing the use of fossil fuels, cutting carbon and improving healthcare.
Investing enables you to have far more choice over what your money goes to, with the possibility of far higher returns than on savings accounts – though also the possibility of losing it all.
Those interesting in becoming more environmentally friendly can speak to investment management firms to find out what are the best ethical funds.
However, investors are advised to use caution and check that what they are investing in is actually environmentally friendly as greenwashing is prevalent in the sector.
To find out more about investing more ethically, click here.
3. Take control of your pension
For those who think they have no investments, think again. If you have a pension, that is your investment – and it might not be green.
Nest, the UK’s biggest pension fund, began divesting from fossil fuels in July this year.
However, many pension funds still back the oil and gas industry.
To help combat this, in June this year, British film director Richard Curtis started a new campaign, Make My Money Matter, encouraging British people to put their pensions into investments they feel matter.
If you are concerned that your pension could be damaging the environment, do what you can to take control of it.
This could be by talking to your employer about your workplace pension and where it’s being paid in to.
You could also set up a Self Invested Pension Plan, which can give you more control over where your pension is invested.
Purchasing more sustainable products when shopping can help protect the environment
4. Buy sustainable products
One of the easier goals to achieve a more environmentally friendly lifestyle is to buy more sustainable products.
This includes items that have a lower carbon footprint as well as avoiding fast fashion sites.
Before purchasing clothes, furniture or any other item, see if you can find out from the retailer how sustainable the product is.
When it comes to fashion, look for brands with GOTS certification which certifies that a firm limits the use of toxic bleaches, dyes and other chemical inputs during the production process of textiles.
Shopping at second hand shops, charity stores or even vintage firms can help cut down waste as well.
Meanwhile, Which? recently launched its Eco Buy label for products that will have a lower carbon footprint over their lifetime, alongside doing their main job well.
Its current Eco Buys are all energy efficient, water efficient and easily repairable meaning if you buy them you won’t just be keeping your carbon footprint to a minimum, you’ll also be saving money in the long run through not having to buy frequent replacements.
Moving to a green energy tariff is an easy to way to help the environment in the coming year
Similarly, purchasing refurbished or second hand electronics is a good way to help the environment.
It is far more sustainable and cheaper than buying new and is a form of recycling in a way.
Which’s? research on buying second-hand laptops found that the same MacBook Pro could cost £1,249 new, £1,049 refurbished or £850 second hand which means you could save £400 just by not buying new.
5. Switch to a green energy deal
Another very easy change to make is to switch to a renewable energy supplier.
Using a price comparison website, you can find a renewable tariff that may be cheaper than your current deal, especially if you haven’t switched in a while.
There are more green deals on the market than ever before with many making the best deals.
Currently the best on the market is with Green Energy on their Aspen plan at an average cost of £851.12 a year.
This is a variable tariff, however, so for those looking for a fixed deal, the next best offer is with Utility Point on its Just Join UP 12M Fixed Wk52 v2 tariff.
This is fixed for a year with an average yearly price of £891.60.
|Supplier||Plan||Type||End date||Exit fee||Average price|
|Utility Point||Just Join UP 12M Fixed Wk52 v2||fixed||12m||72||891.6|
|Green Network Energy||GNE Essential Green V3||fixed||12m||50||915.42|
|Outfox the Market||Fix’d 20 20.0||fixed||12m||0||916.64|
|Gulf Gas and Power||Gulf Home Renewable 12 January 22 v1||fixed||31/01/2022||60||926.15|
|Pure Planet||100% Green||variable||0||936.47|
|GOTO.Energy||In Control Green Dec 2021 V5||fixed||12m||80||945.76|
|E.ON||Fix Online Exclusive v57||fixed||12m||60||948.11|
|British Gas||Energy Plus Protection Feb 2022v3||fixed||28/02/2022||40||950.01|
|Co-op Energy||Co-op 12M Fixed September 2020 v2||fixed||12m||0||952.99|
|Source: Uswitch (correct as of 29 December 2020)|
6. Use the Green Homes Grant
Under the Green Homes Grant, the Government has made available 600,000 vouchers for energy efficiency improvements to homes and has set aside a budget of £2billion that households can apply for.
The scheme will allow homeowners and landlords to fund at least two thirds of the cost of hiring tradespeople to upgrade the energy performance of their homes.
This is because heating buildings accounts for almost a fifth of UK greenhouse gas emissions and reducing carbon dioxide from homes will be essential to reaching net zero by 2050.
Whilst the grant was initially only available for six months, it has now been extended to carry on until March 2022.
More information about the scheme can be found here.
7. Switch to a green broadband deal
You’ll likely be needing a strong connection for Zoom calls well into the new year and switching to a greener broadband provider is one way to do good with your monthly bill.
GreenNet and Green ISP are two non-profit internet service providers which run on 100 per cent renewable energy.
It is worth checking which providers cover your area to see if these, or other options from green companies, are available.
8. Get a green mortgage
Whether you’re buying a new home or switching away from your current lender, consider a ‘green mortgage’ in 2021.
A green mortgage will get you a lower interest rate or an increased loan amount for buying a more energy-efficient home and are currently available from Barclays, NatWest and Nationwide.
With Barclays and NatWest, you can get a discount on their usual interest rate if you buy a home with a better EPC rating.
Nationwide’s green mortgage is for additional borrowing, and you have to spend at least 50 per cent of it on efficiency improvements to qualify.
Could you cut your energy bills… or help the planet and go green?
Millions of people could be needlessly overpaying for their energy as they fail to switch to providers who offer cheaper deal.
They may also be missing out on the opportunity to help the planet and fight climate change, by switching to green deals that offer electricity from renewable sources and more environmentally-friendly gas.
With our partner, Compare the Market, you can compare energy tariffs and exclusive deals.
Why not find out if you could save hundreds of pounds a year on your energy or go green?
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk