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Earth Saver: part seven



In this chapter of Earth Saver, Ben gets a part-time job, so the family goes to pick a bank where he can open his own account, and Clare discovers eco-banking and charity credit cards.

Hooray! Daisy’s party was a success! Well, except for the drizzle. Good thing those solar fairy-lights turned out to be water-proof. Shame about my paper lanterns, though. Nonetheless, she thought the decorations were really stylish and she liked my present too. I gave her a daisy flower brooch and a pair of flower earrings. It took her a moment to realise the jewellery was not glass, but plastic, and she was very surprised when I told her that Mum and I had also made the flowers ourselves – out of plastic bottles!

We’d found a video online that showed you how to make them, with just some used plastic pop bottles and some permanent marker pens. We even reused an old badge pin and a pair of plain earrings Mum had managed to find, which we stuck the finished flowers to.

So that’s good news. There turned out to be even more a couple of days later when Ben announced that he had found himself a part-time job. He’s been looking for one for a while, and he’s finally been hired by a local organic fruit, flower and vegetable shop. However, they want to pay him through the bank, so Dad is taking Ben into town next week to open a current account. Dad should know what he’s doing. It’s his job to advise people on how to save money – though he did make a joke about current accounts not having dried fruit in them. No one laughed except me.

Anyway, Dad and Ben got back this evening with a whole load of leaflets about accounts from different banks, and are now sitting at the kitchen table trying to decide. I think Dad’s more interested in picking the right bank than Ben is. I take a quick peek at one of the glossy leaflets, and it all seems very complicated.

I am about to leave them to it when I notice a leaflet with the words ‘sustainable banking’ on it. Surely that doesn’t mean green sustainable does it? Then I spot another with the words ‘ethical banking’. Hmmm? I decide to ask Dad about the leaflets.

Dad, what’re these ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ banking leaflets about? Is it anything to do with being green?

Dad picks up the leaflets.

Ah, yes”, Dad nods, “I’ve come across this before. This is where banks are trying to be more socially responsible and green. Though there are differences between what banks call ‘ethical’ and ‘green’ banking.”

Which are?” I ask.

Well… ‘green’ banking usually means that the bank tries to uses its resources better, day to day. For example giving people the option to stop being sent paper statements through the post to cut down on the use of paper and get them online instead. ‘Ethical’ banking is about where the banks invest their money. Some invest them in companies that aren’t very green, that destroy wildlife and that sort thing. Ethical banks invest in companies that don’t do that. They actively invest in ones that are doing good things, such as setting up solar power projects. ‘Sustainable’ means green or ethical, or both.”

So, Ben should apply to one of those banks then!” I cry, “If it’s green!

Huh?” Ben pulls out his earphones. He’d started listening to music whilst we were talking.

That’s true, but we also have to decide on the right account for his needs”, Dad says.

What’s this?” Ben asks.

Ben, would you go for one of these green or ethical banks? They invest in good companies.”

Err…it’s not quite that simple”, Dad says. “There’s the rate of interest Ben will get…

Can I put money in these accounts?” Ben says, interrupting Dad and taking the leaflets.

Of course…” Dad starts.

Then sure. Whatever. As long as my pay check can go in there, I can save a bit and I can get money out, that’ll be fine”, Ben says casually.

I suppose you’re right”, Dad sighs, “You’re not exactly at the stage where you’ll be wanting to get a mortgage or a credit card.

So what do these ethical banks invest in then? Panda reserves? Wildlife gardens?” Ben asks flipping through a leaflet.

Well”, Dad says, taking the leaflet off him, “This one invests in environmental schemes and organic businesses. Apparently they invested in a hydro-electricity scheme that a community wanted to set up.”

Wow! I wish our community would set up a hydro-electricity scheme”, I sigh.

A brilliant plan”, Ben says, “Now all we need is a river.”

I hear a click of keys. Dad has brought the bank’s website up onto his laptop screen.

Look at this, they invested in a wind farm too”, he says, “You know, it’s kind of refreshing to see banks investing in communities and eco-projects. Normally they just invest in whatever they think will make the biggest profit. And then you’ve got all those bonuses they pay themselves…

Oh no. Not another rant about the banks. Dad may be a financial advisor, but his aim, according to him, has been to make money for his client, not for the banks.

The rate of interest isn’t bad either. You know, Ben”, Dad says, scrolling down the site, “If you just want a basic standard bank account for now, perhaps going for one of these would be a good idea. Oh, look at this – charity credit cards! Each time you use their credit card some money is donated to a charity, at no cost to you…

Five minutes later Dad’s dragged Mum into the kitchen and they are discussing the idea of ethical banking, not just for Ben, but for themselves. Which is good, I think. I try and keep track but it’s really hard as I don’t know anything about banking. Dad’s discovered a bank with a saving account which lets you choose a charity to benefit from your savings. I’m not quite sure how, but it sounds like a nice idea.

By the end of the evening Mum and Dad are agreeing to open an ethical  bank account for Ben, and switch to the same bank themselves. So I suppose that’s another thing we’ve managed to go green with. Wish I could’ve have helped more. Never mind, there’s still plenty yet to do!

Next Sunday:

Clare breaks her old MP3 player, and looks at buying a wind-up or solar replacement.

Part one // Part two // Part three // Part four // Part five // Part six.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy



Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands



Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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