We’ve learned by now that by making small changes, we can make a big impact. And this goes for our personal lives as well as the lives of those around us.
This is true in terms of both the little things we can do for the environment, like cycling to work instead of jumping in the car, as well as for the small financial boosts we can give ourselves. Understanding this link helps you to look at positive changes that you might be able to make.
Interested in the connection between your carbon footprint and the numbers in your bank account? Here are some simple ideas for saving cash that will also help the planet, so that each time you turn the dial on your thermostat, you could be better investing in your future.
Start to understand your impact
A good way to take stock of your environmental impact is to measure the effects of your actions - but who has the time or patience to tabulate those calculations each day? Well, now you don’t have to as there’s a nifty new app for that.
CoGo* is a free mobile app that connects customers with businesses that share the same ethical stance. CoGo makes it easier for people to make ethical choices daily so they can lower their carbon footprint and uses Open Banking Technology to operate: each transaction gets matched to a specific industry, then multiplied by an emissions factor for that industry to get the carbon footprint of each transaction. Monthly totals of kilograms of carbon are calculated into equivalents of trees cut down or miles travelled in a car to make it easy for us to visualise what we’re using - or saving.
“Where we choose to spend our money has an environmental price, too. Every time we spend, from our morning coffee to our Netflix subscription, we are having an impact when we consume, says Ele Ward, CoGo’s UK market manager.
“Our real-time carbon footprint tracker makes climate impact tangible for users and enables a seamless understanding of carbon consumption for the everyday person... we hope to increase education on how individual spending habits impact the climate and will lead to the necessary empowerment to change habits. CoGo hopes to promote the mentality that people can vote with their spending.”
NatWest have partnered with CoGo* to make it easy for you to track your real-time emissions in their app as you spend. Whilst their carbon foot tracking pilot is currently full, keep an eye out in 2021 for more updates.
Adopt some green behaviours around the house
If you’re in the market for a house, there are perks for choosing an energy-efficient one, like NatWest’s Green Mortgage** scheme, which offers discounted 2 or 5-year fixed rate mortgages to anyone looking at purchasing properties with an energy rating of A or B.
At home, it’s not enough to turn off your gadgets, but unplug them from the mains, too (this will help you save energy and lower the energy bill). Energy-saving monitors like Loop are smart devices that let you track your electricity use, switching suppliers regularly for the best-value option. Smart thermostats like the Nest Learning Thermostat adapt to your preferences and can be controlled from anywhere to save you cash on heating bills.
Also, make sure the lightbulbs in your house are LEDs - they are up to 80% more energy efficient - and minimise household waste by investing in reusable items where possible (beeswax wraps, reusable cotton rounds, etc).
Using fruit and veg box services like Oddbox, which saves veg destined for the waste heap, is another idea - you can also start experimenting with different recipes to minimise food waste, like using banana peels in your next baking recipe.
Green ideas for your wardrobe and phone
Starting a revolution in your wardrobe is another dramatic way to rehaul your life towards a greener future.
As Ward notes, “the most sustainable piece of clothing you have is already in your wardrobe,” however you could make huge reductions in your carbon emissions by buying second-hand or renting clothes from places like HURR Collective, where you can borrow designer gear for a fraction of its retail price.
Look at your e-waste, too - all those old phones you’ve chucked in a drawer could be given a new lease on life.
“While there is much progress within the tech industry around sustainable software solutions, there is a lack of awareness around sustainable hardware - smartphones and laptops are an example,” Ward tells us. “Currently, e-waste is the world’s fastest-growing and most toxic waste stream and only 20% is recycled. For every phone in use in the UK right now, there are four working phones that are not in use.”
Check out Reconomy for ideas on recycling e-waste and addressing this issue, and look out for a refurbished phone from giffgaff when you next need a tech update - you’ll save hundreds of pounds in the process.
NatWest’s sustainability hub has tips on how to reduce your energy bills and other ideas to help your wallet and the planet, at the same time.
To participate, you will need to sign up as a CoGo customer (including agreeing to CoGo’s Terms and Conditions) and connecting your NatWest bank accounts. You’ll need to be 18+, have a NatWest debit or credit card and use the NatWest Mobile App.
NatWest Green Mortgages are available to over 18s purchasing a home with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of A or B. Product fees may apply. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.