We’ve heard a lot, lot, LOT about how to be more eco this past year. As I mentioned in my own A-Z, there are many ways to move towards more sustainable living. Unfortunately, the stone cold truth is, no amount of zero waste small steps will add up to taking our money away from the companies doing the most damage to our planet. When we divest in fossil fuels we are hitting those dirty firms where it really counts: their bottom line.
This fascinating article explains how 100 people (heads of large companies) are murdering our earth and it’s time we all took action against them. Divestment is the opposite of investment, but I’m not writing this piece for people with lots of money in the bank. Those guys (a) don’t read my blog and (b) will have IFA’s to tell them what to do. I’m hoping to reach those who simply want to ensure they’re spending the money they do have as ethically as possible. GoFossilFree.org have tons of useful info if you are looking to move your investments.
Next to moving money, switching to renewable energy is the most impactful thing we can do right now
Depending on who your current supplier is, you might even save some cash in the process. When I switched to Good Energy from British Gas, my monthly bill went down by £12. They also have an affiliate scheme, which is open to everyone. If you sign up with my link (click here) you will receive £50 credit off your first bill and I will receive £50 credit in my account. Please note that I DO NOT work with them in an official capacity. Everyone gets a refer my friends url when they set up an account.
Check out this recent Which? article for all the green details. It explains where and how the gas and electricity is produced and there’s plenty of myth busting too. Which? did a compare and contrast for all the providers who claim to be green. As you’ll see, Good Energy come out on top as they also do in the Good Shopping Guide.
The Good Shopping Guide website makes choosing ethical companies super easy
“Most of us are now aware of our carbon footprint, but we should also know that we leave an ethical footprint every time we shop. Each purchase supports activities throughout the supply chain and beyond; activities that may include animal testing, unfair trade in developing countries, human rights abuses, or investment in weapons and fossil fuels. The Good Shopping Guide exposes many of these connections, listing the level of corporate social responsibility of the companies behind hundreds of everyday products. It reveals which brands are implicated in abuses such as child labour, human rights violations, green-washing and environmental destruction in the UK and worldwide – and also shows which companies are deserving of your support.”
(from the Good Shopping Guide Website)
In laymen’s terms: the more ethical the company, the less chance of them investing in fossil fuels and us needing to divest in them.
How ethical is your bank?
After I went bankrupt in 2008, the only bank who would give me a basic account was the Co-Operative. By sheer good fortune, for a long time, they also topped the ethical league table. Sadly that changed in 2019, when a series of bad decisions made by the ex-CEO led to the Co-Op Group having to sell their banking side of the business. Even now, they are nowhere near the worst offenders, but there are certainly better choices open to us.
Charity Bank, Triodos Bank and Ecology Building Society top the charts in The Good Shopping Guide for assessing ethical status. (Above is a snapshot of how being ethical is defined.) While Charity Bank gets full marks for everything, Triodos and Ecology do not have official ethical accreditation, but they tick all the other boxes.
After the top three, there’s a significant drop down into the next tier of banks. None of them fare up great when it comes to their ethical investment policy. However, the further down the list you get, you realise how shady the big banks are. I’m quite horrified to think that our mortgage was originally with Santander, who score a measly 39/100. Check out the very bottom of the charts: HSBC, Barclays, NatWest and RBS. When I was a kid there wasn’t many banking options. Nowadays we don’t have that excuse.
Five other ways to shop ethically and divest in fossil fuels, without it costing a fortune
CLEANING PRODUCTS. This might come as a genuine shock to a lot of people, but Ecover and Method come in at the bottom of the ethical charts. Why? Because they were bought by S. C. Johnson – who are notorious for testing on animals and destroying the environment. Never get too confident in a brand. Always do your research. I’m a fan of making toiletries, but my faves for household cleaners are Bio D and Ecozone. Both currently independently owned and British – and score a whopping 95/100 for their ethical status.
CLOTHES. Buying secondhand is the absolute best way to avoid being a part of the fashion car crash. It’s not just the Primarks of the world who are doing bad things to the planet, either. By ditching new clothes and buying secondhand, your conscience will be clean. Charity shops, vintage stores, boot sales, clothes swap parties, borrowing libraries, the options are endless.
SHOES. Whilst it’s simple to switch to secondhand for almost all clothes (not undies, obvs), footwear is a different beast. Barefoot shoes, vegan brands and handmade independent cobblers offer a much more sustainable alternative to the Nikes and Converse of the world.
FOOD. Although Waitrose, M&S and Sainsbury’s fare up decently, they could all do better. Iceland, Asda, Aldi and Tesco come in at the bottom of the charts. As I’ve said a million times already, sourcing good food means putting in a bit more effort. Deliveries from butchers selling farm reared meat, British grown, organic veg boxes, farmers markets. Plenty of options. Independent companies, selling organic food care about more than just the bottom line. It’s as simple as that.
PHONES, TABLETS & LAPTOPS. Rethinking tech preferences is an absolute must. Whilst we all love an Apple product, they are most definitely not flying the flag for the ethical cause.