In 2013, we’ve published a number of guides on various aspects of sustainability. From tourism, to fair trade, to corporate social responsibility, to our flagship investment report, our aim is our aim is that you have the information to make more informed decisions about your finances, purchases and lifestyle.
For a round-up of all seven guides we published in 2012, see here. Otherwise, here are the latest publications from this year.
February 2013 – The Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2013
Over a billion people now cross international borders every year – 4,000% higher than the 25 million annual tourists in the 1950s. But all this comes at a cost. How we travel and where we travel to have lasting impacts – and not just in the form of photo albums and postcards.
But sustainable tourism isn’t about sacrificing the quality of your holiday. Far from it. It’s about ensuring all parties – yourself, the local community and the planet – reap the most benefits possible, environmentally, socially and financially.
But most importantly, it’s about ensuring future generations – your children, their children and so on – have the opportunity and privilege to visit these places for themselves.
March 2013 – The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2013
Inside, you’ll find exclusive interviews with some of the sustainable investment industry’s key players – not just from the UK, but across Europe – as well as insight into some of the most popular investment strategies and funds and testimonies from a number of ethical investors.
After speaking to the likes of Penny Shepherd at UKSIF and James Gifford at the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the thing that becomes abundantly clear is the fact sustainable investment really is becoming a mainstream consideration for investors.
While there was a time when ethical, sustainable and responsible investment were very much niche areas, in the 21st century, investors want much more than just a decent financial return from the money they’ve invested. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are now seen as paramount to a large proportion.
This shift is being led by some brilliant organisations, and is placing sustainable investment at the forefront of a really significant change in the investment industry.
March 2013 – The Guide to Ownership 2013
The UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) says over £800 billion of assets are invested in this way in the UK, adding that there is “clear evidence that it encourages more long-term sustainable behaviour by companies, which in turn leads to better value for investors”.
While not overtly related to sustainable, responsible or ethical investment – it’s relevant across the whole investment universe – active ownership chimes very well among investors who look to use their money for social or environmental gains, as well as a financial return. The long-term benefits reaped from adopting the technique are a natural fit with the long-termism attached to investing responsibly.
We’d like to pass on our congratulations to UKSIF for a fantastic event, which we hope will be a fixture in the financial calendar for years to come. Ownership Day might have only lasted for 24 hours, but adopting active ownership strategies will benefit investors no end.
April 2013 – The Guide to Ethical Financial Advice 2013
Profiling members of the Ethical Investment Association (EIA), as well as looking into the history of financial advice more generally, after reading the guide you will be able to make a more informed decision about whether such an ethical adviser is most appropriate for you.
But when making this decision, consider the words of the Ancient Greek statesman Solon: “In giving advice, seek to help, not please, your friend.”
We think this phrase exemplifies why opting for a financial adviser that specialises in ethical investment is undoubtedly the wisest path to take when it comes to planning your finances.
April 2013 – The Guide to Fair Trade 2013
The guide looks at farmers’ markets and the benefits of buying locally (page 26), and includes polarising answers to the question, “What’s so fair about fair trade?”
Nick Slawicz’s analysis of the fair trade movement on page 6 analyses the origins, practices and future of an industry that now accounts for billions of pounds in sales every year. Meanwhile, Ben Willers’ stunning infographic makes for welcome viewing for readers in the UK, Ireland and Switzerland, particularly.
April 2013 – The Guide to Ethical Funds 2013
With help from YourEthicalMoney.org (an EIRIS Foundation initiative), we’ve given you details on a wide selection of regulated investment funds that have a green, ethical, sustainable or responsible stance in the UK.
Whether your strategy is to exclude stocks that do harm (negative screening) or focus on reaping the greatest societal and environmental benefit (positive screening) through your investments, there is a fund for you.
There are funds that focus exclusively on clean energy; funds that look to tackle some of the most urgent sustainability challenges; funds that abide by Sharia law – the moral code and religious law of Islam; funds with an environmental focus; and funds that invest in forestry across the globe. Among many others.
April 2013 – The Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility 2013
In these pages, we outline why CSR, responsible business, sustainability – whatever you wish to call it – cannot simply be an obligatory side-project that comes to the fore every 12 months in the form of a glossy report.
This isn’t corporate social responsibility; this is public relations and greenwash.
CSR reporting often gets ridiculed as an inadequate response to unsustainable business – an issue that was debated at a recent event in London (which is reviewed on page 6 of this guide).
Michael Solomon, whose Responsible 100 project led the event, goes into detail on the subject on pages 8-11, describing how business must go from the bad outweighing the good, to the good outweighing the bad.
It’s interesting reading the eight different responses to the five CSR questions on pages 14-15 (which go into more detail on pages 16-29). While opinions diverge on whether CSR has indeed reached its sell-by date, one thing all parties could agree on was the need for good business.
May 2013 – The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013
There’s a quote by Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb, the motion picture camera and many other things, about renewable energy. Speaking in 1931, he said, “We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
While we have undoubtedly made great strides in developing cleaner sources of energy in the 82 years since Edison said this, it could be argued that as a global community, we’re being a bit slow.
Fossil fuels still dominate the global energy mix, and though they haven’t run out yet, our continued use is ramping up the possibility of runaway climate change (something that was, incidentally, not a major issue in Edison’s era). But there are alternatives.
This guide – the second Guide to Limitless Clean Energy that we’ve done – is a sales pitch – but not in the traditional advertising sense. It’s a sales pitch for better energy; for domestic energy; for safer energy; for more secure energy; for limitless clean energy.
June 2013 – The Guide to Climate Change 2013
Sitting down to plan the report, we didn’t want to simply look at the science behind it. There are plenty of excellent publications that outline the fundamentals. Furthermore, the scientific consensus that humans contribute to global warming – over 97% agree, since you ask – means arguing over the science is pointless. We may as well do a Guide to Tobacco with the subheading, ‘Does it really cause cancer?’ The scientific consensus among scientists exploring each issue is almost identical.
No, we wanted to go a step further and give practical action. And that’s why we’re focusing on investment and divestment.
The all-powerful investment world can and must be used as a force that benefits society and the environment upon which we all depend. We could be investing in technologies that help mitigate the worst effects of climate change: from cleantech to bluetech; sustainable transport to responsible agriculture. Similarly, we should put pressure on investors to ditch the fossil fuel stocks that have got us into this mess.
As Bill McKibben said in 350.org’s Do the Math documentary film, “If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.” There are countless ways you can help heal the climate, and profit from that healing process.
You’d have to question the morality, ethics and financial nous of the investor who chooses to wreck our climate instead.
July 2013 – The Guide to Philanthropy & Giving 2013
Philanthropy, in its ancient Greek meaning, means the ‘love of mankind’. Some of the world’s grandest museums, arts buildings and monuments wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for generous philanthropists. Similarly, some of the gravest threats to humanity and the environment would be a whole lot worse without years of charitable giving.
In these pages, you’ll hear from environmental philanthropists like Ben Goldsmith, who calls the environmental crisis the biggest challenge facing our generation, and read about the Environmental Funders Network. You’ll hear from the Charity Finance Group and the CCLA – two of the leading organisations in the UK charitable sector – about how charities should be investing responsibly so as to not contradict their central missions. You’ll hear from Scorpio Partnership, which, through its research of ultra-high net-worths, perhaps has a better understanding of what makes the wealthy tick than any other organisation in the world. Plus background, trends and statistics on philanthropy and charity more generally.
The quote on the front cover of this guide, by 19th century American journalist Gamaliel Bailey, reads, “Never respect men merely for their riches, but rather for their philanthropy; we do not value the sun for its height, but for its use.”
It’s an interesting suggestion, and one that would really shake up the way we think about money if it happened.
October 2013 – The Guide to Sustainable Homes 2013
Exploring such issues as low-carbon homes, the green deal, self-build, different ownership models, empty homes and the overall sustainability of the housing market, Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Homes 2013 is here to help you through the process of making your home fit for the 21st century.
Produced with the help of Ecology Building Society, we have contributions from and interviews with some of the sustainable building industry’s leading names, including HAB Housing, the Passivhaus Trust, Superhomes, YouGen, the UK Cohousing Network and more.
There is also testimonials from homeowners who have been there, done that and got the T-shirt, with pictures of their now-completed sustainable properties and advice they’ve garnered along the way.
The threat of climate change, and even more basically, the dual threat of pollution and waste, says we all need to do our bit to help move to a more sustainable society, economy and environment. And with domestic housing accounting for around 40% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions, there’s no better place to start than your own home.
But by reducing your energy usage, cutting back your emissions and avoiding wasting precious resources, you will see dramatic improvements not only in your environmental footprint and energy bills, but in the overall comfortableness of your property.
We hope that after reading the guide, you’ll do to your home what’s necessary for you, your family, your wallet, your community and your environment.
October 2013 – The Guide to Sustainable Banking 2013
Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Banking 2013 hopes to provide you with some of the best options in the alternative space, covering banks, building societies and credit unions.
The guide is effectively split into two parts. The first is a brief outline of what’s gone wrong in mainstream banking, which many readers will have read in newspapers and the pages of Blue & Green Tomorrow.
Meanwhile, for others, their reasons for considering the alternative sector are more personal, having been on the receiving end of some of the irresponsible behaviour themselves.
The second section is an in-depth look into some of the leading alternative players for both individual and business needs: Triodos, Charity Bank, Unity Trust Bank, Ecology Building Society and Handelsbanken.
Diversification, transparency and sustainability: the three pillars of the banking system of the future. Given that many of the alternative institutions have these values embedded into their very core today, the message is surely, “Switch today, for tomorrow.”
October 2013 – The Guide to National Ethical Investment Week 2013
Now into its sixth year, National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW) has developed from a newborn event, into an infant, a toddler and finally into a healthy annual week in the calendar. The underlying message has never been more important and relevant.
The overall mission remains the same; make money and make a difference. All of the players in sustainable investment, UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) members, advisers, charities, foundations, NGOs, faith and community groups and trade bodies, are being called upon to engage with this year’s event.
Raj Singh, UKSIF’s programme director and NEIW co-ordinator, has issued a rallying call to “deepen the conversation and grow the market”.
It is clear to all but the most unenlightened individuals that some assets will lose value as a result of environmental and social change. Oil and gas, mining, unsustainable agriculture and transport all carry increasing risk. This risk needs to be considered by owners, advisers and managers. Investors need to factor it into consumption and investment choices.
Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to National Ethical Investment Week 2013 contains everything you need to know about the week itself, as hundreds of people up and down the country prepare to gather for events and conferences.
We salute those who will put on events and write stuff during the week, but also those who invest, advise and promote this sector 52 weeks a year.
October 2013 – The Guide to Ethical & Sustainable Financial Advice 2013
There is a big gap between investor demand for ethical and sustainable investment and adviser knowledge on the subject. Because it’s not a requirement to do so, too few financial advisers offer clients such options.
This is despite many of them getting requests for such investment strategies from clients (74% of advisers in a Blue & Green Tomorrow survey said their clients had at some point asked about ethical investment) and investors wanting to be offered them by their financial planners (63% of British investors in a recent YouGov poll said they wanted to be offered such options).
Sustainable investment is investment for 21st century investors. But those investors need 21st century advisers to help deal with and benefit from the many environmental and social challenges the world faces today.
The Guide to Ethical & Sustainable Financial Advice 2013 and the many (but not enough) advisers who currently give advice in these areas are vital parts of the jigsaw. The big challenge will be encouraging a new wave of finance professionals to step up to the plate.
October 2013 – The Guide to Sustainable Funds 2013
Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Funds 2013 looks at 134 ethical and sustainable investment funds. If you want to invest in a vehicle that offers wider benefits – either to society, the environment or both – as well as generating a healthy financial return, you’re in the right place.
Data by the ethical investment research firm EIRIS, released in the run-up to this year’s National Ethical Investment Week, suggested there was a record £12 billion invested in UK green and ethical retail funds, as of June 2013. This represented a rise of around £1.2 billion from 2012, and a dramatic increase from the £4 billion that EIRIS said was invested in such funds in 2001.
However, the 134 investment funds in this guide – taken from Blue & Green Tomorrow’s sister site Blue & Green Investor (which in turn gets its information from Financial Express) – were worth over £22 billion as of October.
Both sets of data suggest ethical and sustainable investment is on the rise, and recent excellent return statistics bust the age-old myth of underperformance by such funds. Blue & Green analysis shows that 19 out of 21 UK ethical equity funds had outperformed the FTSE 100 over the past year. Meanwhile, the overall top performing fund – Guinness Alternative Energy – returned 85% in the year until October 16, compared to the FTSE 100’s 12%.
Whether it’s a themed fund – investing in clean energy, agriculture, forestry, water and so on; a negatively screened fund – avoiding harmful or unethical industries; or simply a fund that seeks to tackle key sustainability challenges, the Blue & Green database has something to match your criteria.
December 2013 – The Guide to Sustainable Spending 2013
What if we could continue to live comfortable lives and buy interesting and exciting products without damaging something or someone somewhere along the value chain? What if the ethical, sustainable or responsible were the default options?
Covering the five pillars of consumer spending – food and drink, fashion, household, technology and transport – Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Spending 2013 looks at how you can do just that.
We look at: food waste and some of the retailers leading the way in sourcing, producing and selling sustainably; how the Bangladeshi factory collapse in April brought to light a number of supply chain risks in the global fashion industry; what you can do to make your home more efficient – both financially and environmentally through your energy and water usage; some of the technological innovations available on the consumer market that aim to make your life better, cleaner and more comfortable; and what you can do to make your daily commute to work more sustainable – through car sharing, cycling or electrically-powered vehicles.
So this Christmas, consider the sustainable option when buying for family and friends. Gift-giving is a part of the festive experience, and we’re not saying don’t buy your loved ones anything at all. We’re suggesting you do it sustainably.
How Going Green Can Save A Company Money
What is going green?
Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.
The first step in going green
There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.
Making needed changes within the company
After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.
Reducing the common paper waste
Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.
Make money by spreading the word
Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.
1. Weather stripping
If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.
Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.
Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.
2. Programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.
Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!
3. Low-flow water hardware
With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.
Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.
Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.
4. Energy efficient light bulbs
An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.
New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.
5. Installing solar panels
Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.
Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.
From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!
These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.