The Naturesave Trust made its first ever donation in November 1995. The recipient was the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust who were awarded £400 for a project to protect Otter habitats in the river Kennet. Jump forward 25 years and the Naturesave Trust has donated over £800,000 to almost 500 environmental projects across the UK.
The work of the Trust is entirely funded by the commercial activities of Naturesave Insurance, the UK’s leading green and ethical insurance provider. Naturesave Insurance itself was founded in 1993 by Matt Criddle who set out to marry the concept of sustainable development with insurance.
Much of the work of the Trust involves smaller projects and start-ups, the kind of projects that may not be able to secure funding from larger charities. The areas of funding awarded, fall into the following categories; renewable energy, nature conservation, science and education, sustainable buildings, sustainable food and recycling and repair. In addition to these charitable donations, the Trust also funds a Tree Planting program and free Environmental Performance Reviews for SMEs.
Supporting wildlife conservation
In the 25 years of funding, the Trust has supported a diverse range of projects that protect some of our wonderful wildlife; including Puffins, Owls, Bats, Lobsters, Dolphins, Adders, Bees, Bumblebees, Swifts, Dormice, Water Voles and Red Squirrels. The organisations we have supported to complete this work range from Wildlife Trusts to specialist charities and research institutions who play a vital role in protecting Britain’s wildlife.
Creating more sustainable spaces
Our work has taken us into schools, many of them in inner cities, to create wildlife areas, ponds and vegetable gardens. These projects educate children on environmental matters, encourage craft skills, knowledge of food production as well create spaces that benefit well-being. The Trust has helped communities to create woodlands and orchards and other projects that improve local biodiversity. Many of our recipients are charities, who work with vulnerable or disabled people who have benefitted greatly from spaces that help individuals reconnect with nature.
Igniting the green technology revolution
Our funding has helped the take up of a raft of sustainable technologies such as solar PV installations, LED lighting, hydropower, biomass boilers, rainwater harvesting and eco-house building. The Trust has supported some groundbreaking new sustainable solutions. From innovative flywheel technology used in light rail transport to a peddle powered zero emission waste business that could change the face of urban commercial waste collection. For the latter project, the Trust is working with Hereford Pedicabs and has funded an innovative electric cargo bike that will offer businesses a zero carbon recycling solution at the same price as sending the same materials to landfill.
Amplifying our actions through education
Many of our projects have an environmental educational purpose, on the basis that the environmental movement will only succeed if we can spread understanding of the issues involved. It is this belief that led us to support organisations such as the Centre For Alternative Technology and the Transition Town movement. In a recent project with Bright Green Hydrogen the Trust funded tools to enable workshops to be run to educate children on a variety of renewable energies, including wind, solar, water power and also hydrogen storage. On a similar vein the Trust provided funding for Science 4 Society to develop a set of Food Top Trumps. A novel way to compare carbon footprints, water footprints and nutritional information about everyday foods.
Working with organisations that make a difference
The Trust tends to focus its efforts on smaller organisations and or projects that may struggle to obtain funding from some of the larger charities. As a result, the Naturesave Trust often works with small voluntary organisations, charities, schools and community groups. Despite that, over the years we have been fortunate enough to work with fantastic organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage, Canopy and Stars, Transition Towns, such as Totnes and Lewes, the majority of Wildlife Trusts and organisations like Sustrans, Fareshare and the RSPB. We have helped Ashton Hayes become the UK’s first carbon neutral village and supported the market town of Steyning become plastic bag free, way back in 2009.
Helping SME’s become more sustainable
In 1996 the Trust set out to assist SMEs make changes that would not only make them more sustainable, but also saved them money. Most businesses of this size are run by individuals or small teams who do not have the time or resources to review all their business practices and adopt more sustainable solutions. Working in accordance with Bioregional’s 10 One Planet Principles, the Trust began to offer free Environmental Performance Reviews (EPR’s), conducted by an independent environmental consultant. The reviews were offered for free to Naturesave’s SME clients, who were encouraged to take up the EPR recommendations, with a 10% discount on their insurance premium, once they had implemented the recommendations. To date the Trust has helped nearly 200 businesses analyse their operations and discover ways to become more sustainable.
Dedicated to tree planting
The Trust began supporting a tree planting program in recognition of Naturesave’s loyal home insurance customers by planting a tree for every customer that remained with the business for over ten years. With tree planting recognised as a key response to the climate emergency, in April of this year, the Trust provided funding to expand the program and now Naturesave plants a tree for every new insurance policy issued. We have named the campaign Buy One Get One Tree and is something Naturesave hopes other organisations take up.
Champion for Community Energy
Over the past 20 years, the Trust has supported the growing concpet of community renewable energy, primarily through grants to assist with start-up costs. This early stage financial assistance has helped these organisations in realising their objectives. To date, the Trust has provided in excess of £275,000 which has, directly and indirectly, helped community renewable energy organisations achieve their aspirations. Our work in this area was recognised in 2016 when Community Energy England awarded us the Community Energy Funding Award. We are also currently running a project to introduce bees, housed in thermosolar beehives, to solar farms across the country. The aim of the project is to demonstrate that solar farms, in addition to producing green energy, can also play a vital role in biodiversity protection. Read more about the Solar Bee Project
The Next 25 Years
With increasing interest in ethical consumption, the future looks bright for the Naturesave Trust. Growing numbers of consumers are seeking to source their banking, finance, energy, food and, hopefully, insurance from organisations that put sustainability at the forefront of their business objectives. Since the Naturesave Trust is 100% funded by the commercial activities of Naturesave Insurance, this should ensure the Trust continues to receive healthy financial contributions.
We look forward to funding more projects that make a material difference, not just to the environment, but also to people and communities. We would also like to thank all of those Naturesave Insurnace customers who have helped make this possible.
The Naturesave Trust