I sit here writing this article on a very long train journey to the Isles of Scilly from Hertfordshire. The total journey time is six hours by train plus three hours by boat. I have chosen to get the train and the boat rather than drive and fly to do my bit for the environment. But this comes at a cost. The train ticket was £139 plus £130 for the boat, both return tickets. Ouch.
Compare this to had I have driven. I drive a hybrid car, I’ll come back to that environmental decision later. Even with high fuel costs currently it would have cost me around £100 to get to Penzance and back. Add on another £6 for pay as you go car insurance costs. Time wise is probably the same, traffic and coffee break stops.
My options to get to the Isles of Scilly are either boat, plane (around £200 return) or helicopter (around £300 return). The boat wins in terms of CO2 emissions and costs, but not time!
Sometimes it feels like being more environmentally friendly can cost more and take up far more time and hassle!
But I persevere, here are a few of the things I have tried or changed in my life to be more environmentally friendly.
I have given this a try a few times and have found it incredibly hard. A 100% vegan diet takes a lot of planning and education. And this inevitably means higher cost and time to prepare food. Many of the vegan substitute foods are more expensive, think mayonnaise, nut butter, oat milk, vegan cheese etc.
An easier solution for me was to eat vegetarian food some of the week. More so during the time when I don’t have my children with me. But let’s face it, there isn’t a vegan cheese that can compare to an incredible Brie or Epoisses. Sorry Vegan readers.
Buying a Hybrid or Electric Car
I have taken a step towards a more environmentally friendly car and traded in my big heavy unleaded fuel S-Max four years ago for a Toyota Hybrid CHR. A hybrid car runs off self-generated electricity for low-speed driving and then switches to unleaded fuel for higher speeds. My hybrid car is around twice as efficient for fuel consumption compared to my old car with an average MPG of around 55 MPG. A full fuel tank costs around £50 and lasts for 400 miles.
I am yet to take the full step to an electric car. I want to wait until the batteries have longer mileage lives, I am happy with my well looked after hybrid car I will be keeping it for a few years yet.
Electric cars are much cheaper to run and are much better for the environment, but they do cost significantly more to buy. I got to try out a Tesla Model 3 for a week, and absolutely loved it, but these cars are expensive and second-hand models are in such demand that they cost the same as a brand-new car.
Fast Fashion and Buying Second Hand
Another environmental aspect of my life is to avoid buying fast fashion from places like Primark and only buying clothes to last a long time. I also love to shop pre-loved and vintage clothes from places like Circle of Style and Vinted.
My boys have always enjoyed hand-me down clothes (one huge benefit of having three boys) and we love a delivery of clothes from a friend with an older boy who passes on their outgrown/unwanted clothes every year!
We also then pass on the love and donate to charity, pass on to friends or occasionally sell on Vinted and eBay.
This is the way forward for fashion and saves both money and the environment.
Using Less Plastic Packaging
This is a hard one, especially hard after trying plastic free July once. It is near-on impossible to shop in your regular supermarket without plastic packaging.
I have successfully moved over to plastic free shampoo (Garnier do a good one) and try to buy as much of my produce loose as possible.
After much time of getting used to a new routine, reusable bags are now the norm, and I get very annoyed if I don’t have a reusable bag with me. My metal water bottle comes everywhere with me, I wouldn’t dream of buying a plastic drinks bottle. This also saves a lot of money!
And of course, everything goes into the recycling at home.
But what about Your Savings and Your Pension?
Your pension is likely/possibly one of the biggest financial assets you might have saved. And a very powerful way of doing a huge thing for the environment is to consider moving your money into an ethical pension pot. You may have heard the term ESG, which stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. The fossil fuel free fund with PensionBee comes under the E of ethical pensions.
Not only is this a powerful statement in support of the environment but it’s also a very simple and quick process to move your money to the fossil fuel free fund. A simple process that done once with no more effort required, unlike veganism, recycling, and all the other lifestyle decisions we might take to protect the environment.
I have done exactly this; my pension is now invested in the Fossil Fuel Free fund with PensionBee. This plan completely excludes fossil fuel producers, tobacco companies, manufacturers of controversial weapons and persistent violators of the UN Global Compact
I switched my pension over to Fossil Fuel Free in January of 2021, moving from the PensionBee Tracker plan. For me it was simple, five minutes of my time and no on-going time/maintenance. Just give permission for the transfer and PensionBee do all the rest. I make regular contributions into my pension, check in on my plan performance every few months via the handy app.
You can also move your existing pensions with other providers and consolidate them with PensionBee or you can set up a pension from scratch, particularly useful for self-employed folk who don’t have an employer contribution pension scheme.
The Simplest Way to Save the Environment
I feel happy and reassured that I have made this ethical decision to move my pension money. It is a large sum of money and my decision has made a big difference to the future of this world. I will carry on with all the other things I do but take pleasure in knowing my pension is working hard for the environment with no further effort from me required!
Please be aware that any form of investment can go up and down. You may want to consider advice from a qualified IFA. Just make sure they come recommended by a trusted friend and check their investment levels. Some will only work with clients with an investment level of at least £150k. This post was written in collaboration with PensionBee.