December 29, 2016

6 Things Your Money Can Do To Save The Planet

Last we heard, fossil fuel is running out, a nuclear station blew up, more than a billion people go hungry, population growth is unprecedented, more people are living in poverty than ever, there is a mass extinction of species going on, most of us eat foods laced with pesticides, farm animals are mistreated (and injected with hormones), the world is warming and people are polluting the environment like never before. 

And I’m sure there are dozens of other things I missed out.

Sorry to paint such a bleak picture, but I think most of you are already aware of all those things, especially is you’re a regular reader of My Green Australia.  And it’s thanks to websites like this that the Green Movement can grow in time.

Today, some 61% of Americans favor the Green Movement. I haven’t found similar data for Australia but you can imagine it’s pretty high – after all, we introduced one of the first carbon tax in the world. But what if you want to do more? “Vote with your dollars”, environmentalists always say. So let’s start with that.

1. Microlending

This is one of the easiest way to get started. Microlending is the act of lending a small amount of loan (starting from just $25) to people who live in poverty. If you think it’s charity, think again. Microlending has a surprisingly high repayment rate. For Kiva, one of the leading microlending platforms out there, the repayment rate is a whopping 98.79%.

To be sure, not all third-world entrepreneurs on Kiva are part of the green movement, but many of them do present such opportunity. People in the third-world country, despite their low levels of consumption, are also responsible for a high amount of pollution because of poverty. Stove soot, for example, is a major source of third-world pollution.

To break out of this cycle, they need a loan – and a small one at that. A simple solar cooker could cut down black soot in no time, and they won’t even have to cut down trees for wood. Imagine what slightly bigger loans can help the poor with?

2. Support The Green Movement

If you prefer to donate instead of lend, then support the various environmental groups out there. People like Greenpeace and ClimateWorks Australia are always looking for more funding.

But you needn’t stop there. There are more people who need help than just big organizations. You can donate organic seeds to farmers around the world. Seeds, unfortunately, is a huge expense for poor farmers – a fact companies like Monsanto take advantage of when they sell genetically modified ones. Or help make building materials environmentally friendly through the Healthy Building Network.

3. Invest In Green Banks

You may not know this, but where you put your money matters to the environment. A high majority of Australians bank with the Big Four for various reasons, but what they don’t know is that their money is being used to fund the expansion of the coal industry – making Australia the highest carbon emitter per capita.

Instead, why not bank with people like MCUSB (Maleny Credit Union Sustainable Banking) or Bendigo?

Whether you intend it or not, your money WILL be used for or against the environment. So unfortunately while activists are out there protesting against coal, their money is in one of the Big Four working against their efforts.

4. Invest Against The Environment?

And it’s not just where you bank that matters to the environment either. Some people even unintentionally invest in companies that destroy the eco-system through their superannuation fund. This is the next most common “leak” – people just don’t know what their superannuation money is used for.

And while some companies claim to back the protection of the environment, the reality is not that clear. Trusting the marketing material of a super fund is like believing the “all natural” claims that seems to be on the package of every processed food in Woolworth’s. What exactly did they mean when they say “all natural” and “eco-friendly fund”?

Instead, look for companies that specializes in ethical investments, like the Australian Ethical Investment & Superannuation.

5. Invest In Better Technology

The people of the third world pollute because they couldn’t afford better technology? Can you? If you can, then invest in better technology. Australia is one of the sunniest country in the world so it’s a wonder why not more people have a solar panel installed. Can you afford an electric car? How about a more electric efficient refrigerator and heater, seeing how refrigerator, heating and cooling and water heating are responsible for 55% of your electric use?

Psychologically speaking, people tend to despise a large initial outlay but save over time – instead preferring to buy something cheap upfront but costs more in the long run. Are you being irrational in these things?

6. Watch Where Your Tourist Dollars Go

I love to travel the world, and I am sure you do too. But the next time you leave the country for a holiday, watch where your tourist dollars go. Do you spend the bulk of your money on branded hotels or one that’s carbon-neutral? Do you spend buy your food in McDonald’s (because it’s familiar) or opt for one that’s local-made?

When people go overseas for a holiday, they tend to ditch everything that they are back at home. If they didn’t drink, they would in Bali. If they are married, suddenly they are not in Bangkok (aka vacation flings). Do you ditch the environment when you’re overseas?

How you spend your tourist dollars matter in shaping the priorities of the host country. If you prefer to ride taxis instead of biking through the countryside, they will commission more taxis. Make sense right?

This guest blog is written by Andrianes Pinantoan, a personal finance enthusiast hailing from personal finance sites that provide tips on ways to save money. He finds it weird to write in third person so he’s going to stop now.

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