Welcome to the latest Naturesave guide to being green. We have researched the practical things you can do as an individual that will make the biggest difference. We’ve scoured the web and asked a few friends (we know some very green ones), in an effort to come up with the definitive list of the changes you can make that will have the most impact.
Being green with your energy – Switch electricity tariff
A major source of greenhouse gasses comes from electricity generation. This is because two-thirds of the UK’s electricity is currently fuelled by coal and gas, which releases millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. This makes the energy sector the single biggest source of CO2 emissions in the country.
What can I do?
Switch to Green Electricity – Its quick and easy to do and it will probably SAVE you money. Here are a couple of websites that will help you switch and find the best green tariff – Our favourite by far is Big Clean Switch (who claim the average home could save 100’s of pounds a year). You could also try www.greenelectricity.org and www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/guides/green-energy-plans/
You can also
Change your boiler – Heating your home accounts for around 60 percent of what you spend in a year on energy bills, so an efficient boiler makes a big difference. If your boiler is more than 20 years old it is worth replacing with a condensing boiler that is 15-20% more efficient
Reduce your energy consumption – try: – Setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter, not leaving appliances on standby and washing clothes in cold water. For more of this check out this comprehensive list on the U Switch website. www.uswitch.com/energy-saving/guides/free-energy-saving-tips/
Home Battery – If you own solar panels, you probably know that you are using less than 50% of the energy they generate. A home battery will allow you to store this energy for use in the evenings. For more advice check out www.powervault.co.uk
Being green with your transport – Part 1: Re-think your car
When it comes to the environment, vehicle emissions are a double whammy. The total CO2 emitted from transport in the UK is second only to the energy sector. In addition to contributing to climate change, vehicle emissions also contribute to an incredible 40,000 premature deaths each year as a result of the harmful chemicals emitted from exhaust pipes. What is worrying is that just a few days into 2017, and the UK broke its air pollution limit for the entire year.
What can I do?
If you cant make more use of public transport or take up cycling, you have three options. Buy a more efficient car, buy a low emission electric car or take part in the growing trend of car sharing.
A more fuel-efficient car – For advice on a more efficient car check out these stats on fuel economy www.fuel-economy.co.uk/stats.html
Go electric – If you fancy an electric car try this guide which has everything you need to know to make the switch to electric. Don’t forget, to get the benefit of the CO2 reduction, you really need to charge the car from a green electricity Tariff. Without green electricity, you essentially just get the benefit of reducing exhaust pollution.
Being green with your transport – Part 2: The aviation problem
When you think of flying, it usually relates to holidays and sunshine. So it’s tough to hear that it is worse than most other forms of transport in terms of the impact of greenhouse gases per passenger mile. This is then further exacerbated by the distances involved. If aviation was a country, it would be the 7th worst polluter globally. Unfortunately, we can’t blame the rest of the world as it’s us Brits who fly way more than anyone else (blame the weather!). Whilst there are great technological solutions to many of our fossil fuel-driven industries, from electric cars to home batteries, air travel has no such magic bullet. Planes are powered by Kerosene, although there is some talk of electric options in the future there is no real sign of a low carbon replacement on the near horizon.
What can I do?
So, if you want to make a difference, the only option is to fly less. Train travel may take a little longer, but it when compared to today’s airports it can actually be far more relaxing. Often one obstacle is planning the route, particularly when it comes to travelling abroad. Fortunately, there are some great websites that can assist – www.seat61.com/index.html and www.loco2.com
You can also
Try taking greener holidays. Cut down the impact of travel, and holiday in the UK… or, why not book your holiday through environmentally-minded operators like Sawdays and Green Traveller – Green traveller & Sawdays
What else can I do?
Get help from the boss – Cutting down on flying is feasible, but it takes more travel time. Employers, therefore, play a major part in making this possible through their HR policies. SO, why not campaign for your employer to change their holiday policy. Here at Naturesave, we award extra travel time to employees who choose to take the train instead of flying.
Campaign for a policy change – Kerosene is the only fuel that is not taxed. Check out this campaign by A Free Ride, for a tax system that is focused on those that fly regularly. This seems to make sense when you discover that 15% of us take 70% of all flights in the UK. The proposed tax system would hit these frequent flyers and not the majority who either don’t fly or just fly once a year. www.afreeride.org
Campaigners argue that such a tax would render airport expansion unnecessary. Read more here www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/20/frequent-flyer-tax-leisure-airfares?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
If you want more details on the environmental problems associated with air travel – here’s some full-blown stone cold hard science from leading climate scientist kevinanderson.info/blog/hypocrites-in-the-air-should-climate-change-academics-lead-by-example/
Being green with your food – Change your diet
Where your food comes from and how it is produced can have a significant environmental impact. Judging food from an environmental and ethical perspective can be complicated. For instance, local is not always best, tomatoes trucked from Spain are actually less impactful than heating a greenhouse in the UK in February. Conversely, eating seasonally is better still.
What can I do?
Eat less red meat – One clear difference you can make is reducing your red meat consumption. Beef uses 28 times more land and 11 times more water than pork or chicken. Rearing this meat produces so much CO2 that giving it up is believed to have more benefit than abandoning your car! Read more here – www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/21/giving-up-beef-reduce-carbon-footprint-more-than-cars
Life on the Veg – The next best thing you can do is get your veg from a box scheme like Riverford. Headed by Guy Watson this a food business the clearly does not put profit before doing the right thing. They have worked with Exeter University to ensure they minimise their environmental impact. www.riverford.co.uk/aboutus/environment-ethics/how-green-are-we
Go Full Vegan – A useful general guide on the benefits of giving up meat and dairy comes courtesy of the Happy Happy Vegan, 9 Environmental Reasons To Go Vegan
A Green Grocer – For general groceries, we also love the ethics of Planet Organic – A one-stop shop health food haven with great organic and sustainable options – www.planetorganic.com
If you are London based another Naturesave favourite are the green and ethical salad champions –Growing Underground.com. Also along the same lines are; Grownup urban farms – growup.org.uk and Farmshop London – farmlondon.weebly.com
You can also
If you want to get involved in growing food, why not try the Community Supported Agriculture network www.communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk
Being green with your shopping – Be a more conscious consumer
Making your general consumption greener is a hard one, as it can be difficult to determine the impact of a product or brand, particularly as so many claim to be green.
What can I do
Ethical Consumer – Well considered advice can be found at Ethical Consumer…. And yes, Naturesave is recommended under insurance! Ethical Consumer Ethical Shopping Directory
Eco Shopper – Historically our preferred option for eco-friendly products was Nigel’s Eco Store, however, they are unfortunately no longer trading. As an alternative, if you want beautiful British made things with a sustainable edge, check out www.bluepatch.org. Another great resource is the ethical comparison site The Good Shopping Guide which provides reviews of which brands to support and which to ignore in just about every sector. (oh and Naturesave is the joint #1 brand in insurance)
You can also
Buy less – fix more. It might sound obvious but buying less obviously helps. One way to achieve this is to fix rather than throw away. There are some great advice sites out there that include fixing guidance on just about anything. These sites are American in origin but still applicable for the UK www.ifixit.com/Guide & www.ifixit.com
The Ultimate Fixer – best product we have found for fixing things is a cross between Blue tac and super glue – check out Sugru – sugru.com
Being green with your money – Greening your money
As our green guide shows, lots of things can be green. When it comes to the area of finance (and insurance) there is a common misconception that green and ethical options are not relevant or simply do not exist. This is certainly not the case.
What can I do
Try an ethical bank. Over 80% of current accounts sit with one of the big five banks. None of these organisations has much to boast about when it comes to ethics and the environment. There are better options, check out this review by Ethical Consumer ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/money/bankingcurrentaccounts
One that stands out for us is Triodos bank. Naturesave has worked with them on commercial projects so we are pleased they are stepping into personal banking for the first time this April. www.triodos.co.uk
Good Money Advice – For general advice on being greener and more ethical with your money it’s hard to better the team at Good With Money – good-with-money.com
You can also
Choose a green insurance company – If you care about the environment, we think this can make a big difference. www.naturesave.co.uk!!
The insurance industry is the second largest institutional investor in fossil fuels. It is also the industry that exists to protect us from adverse future events. Since burning fossil fuels will lead to more climate disruption this would appear to be counterproductive. It is for this reason that Naturesave campaigns for the industry to divest itself of investments in coal, oil and gas. www.naturesave.co.uk/about-us/campaign-for-insurance-divestment/
That concludes our Guide To Being Green 2018. If you found this useful please remember to share. This is a work in progress. If you have any of your own ideas please tweet them to us @WeAreNaturesave or find us on Facebook @NaturesaveInsurance