Following the release of the IPCC report 2021, which showed a troubling look into our future on this planet, it's normal to feel helpless. But, if we're going to win this fight, we need to mobilise and work together, now more than ever. We hear a lot that the top 100 biggest companies in the world are responsible for more carbon emissions than the rest of us put together. It's true. Just 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
But that doesn't mean we should give up. It doesn't mean there aren't things we can do to change our reality. We are not absolved of personal responsibility. We all need to act in a way that, if everyone acted like us, we'd fix the problems.
Part of the reason that these big companies are able to continue to pollute is because people spend money with them. One of the most powerful things you can do in the fight for our planet is stop spending, buying and affiliating yourself with brands doing the wrong thing. Money talks.
We've written before about growing your own vegetables, reducing your intake of animal products, shopping plastic-free and reducing your footprint where possible. Which are all great moves. After all, every piece of plastic you don't buy is one less that could potentially end up in the ocean and hurt our marine life. But, if you're looking to make a powerful change and hold big business accountable, here are some other things you can do. And the good news is, most of these tasks you can do in 20 minutes with a little internet research.
Move your electricity to a green power provider
Send a message to unethical energy suppliers by switching your electricity provider to one that prioritises renewable energy. Try using The Green Power Guide, an independent ranking of energy providers. It's an unbiased way to see which providers are doing their bit for the environment
Stop buying fast fashion, unethical beauty and homewares - give your dollars to the right brands instead
Yes, clothing options that operate outside of fast fashion will be a little bit more expensive. But I would argue that a $3-$5 top should have never been an option in the first place - and the social cost is simply too high, one that none of us can afford. And, there are enough ethical brands charging reasonable prices that we have choices.
If you're looking to find better brands to shop with, The Inspired Co. is a great resource for smaller Australian brands, most of whom are ethically produced. Also, I like to use Baptist World Aid's sustainability report which gives fashion brands an ethics rating. B-Corp is another great place to find sustainable companies - you'll find brands like Sunday Riley, Aesop and Koala Mattresses on the list.
Remember to also pay attention to the materials you buy. Look for furniture made from sustainably-sourced wood. And try to avoid polyester in clothes. Polyester is made from fossil fuels - the biggest source of global carbon emissions.
Consider moving to an environmentally-friendly bank
Banks use the money we store with them to make investments of their own. So finding one with an ethical and sustainable mindset can help to make sure your money isn't used for thing you don't agree with. I found this to be a helpful guide.
Vote for our climate
When your local, state or federal election rolls around, use your vote and vote in the interest of preserving our planet.
Find out where your superannuation is
Many of us don't think too much about what our super is doing. But many of us have a significant sum building up, and it might be invested with companies that are not working in the best interest of our planet.
The best thing you can do here is talk to a professional. Your superannuation is very important to you being able to have a financially secure future, so you need to invest it wisely. Speak to a financial advisor or other investment professional and ask for advice on how to choose the best super fund to align with your sustainability ethics - and that will also provide you with financial security into the future.
If you're investing on your own, consider putting your money into environmentally-friendly companies or funds
Yes, there are many big business that are doing the wrong thing. But there are so many companies that are actually doing it right. And when you invest with the good guys, you're sending a powerful message to the market - that being environmentally-friendly pays. And when you do put your money in climate-friendly companies, they then have more resources to develop and grow.
As an example, I am invested in an eco-friendly ETF called ERTH. This is just one example of many eco-friendly funds you could consider. Speak to a professional who will be able to give you advice on eco-friendly investment options that could suit your financial situation best.
If you need a car, make your next one an EV
Despite what some poorly-researched documentaries may tell you, the biggest source of carbon emissions is the fossil fuel industry. And much of that is to do with petrol and cars.
If you are someone that needs a car, make your next one an electric vehicle. You can get a brand new Toyota Prius for as low as $27,000. If you're shopping used, they're much cheaper than this too. I've seen some on Car Sales for just $7000 or $8000.
I bought an electric/petrol hybrid car recently and it's not uncommon for me to get 2000 kilometres from one tank of fuel. In addition to being much better for the environment, the running costs are a lot cheaper too.
Get your parents and the people in your network to do the same
Convincing your parents, who likely have more money and more investments than you, to make these monetary shifts can make an even bigger impact. Talking to your network about how easy it is to switch to a green energy provider or swapping to an environmentally-friendly bank amplifies the impact of your positive actions.
Get the word out and help your family and friends do their bit.
More resources for further reading