Investing in our planet has never been so important. That’s why it’s the theme of this year’s Earth Day. A green economy would help people and communities worldwide live sustainably and equitably. It would protect our natural environment. And, it would safeguard our future here on Planet Earth.
But we have a long way to go.
Throughout April, activists have been marking the run-up to Earth Day with marches, community events, volunteer actions, and more. Earth Day culminates Saturday 22 April, coinciding with The Big One—a huge demonstration organised by climate group Extinction Rebellion. You can learn more on our recent blog here.
To celebrate Earth Day, Bagmaya have chosen to focus on a crucial aspect in creating a better world: the green economy.
Why? Well, because there is so much we can do as individuals and households to invest in a greener, fairer system. From putting pressure on governments and big businesses to making eco-friendly consumer choices in our everyday lives, we all can make a difference.
Below, you will find some powerful ways to help the green economy. That way, you can turn Earth Day into Earth Year!
1. Take control of your emissions with low-carbon transport
The UK government has pledged to decarbonise private vehicles by 2030. Of course, sooner would be better. So, in the meantime, we need to take responsibility for the emissions we create. Cars are a major culprit.
You might believe big businesses create most carbon emissions. Actually, the proportion of UK emissions created by households is significant: 40%, according to the Committee on Climate Change. And, while average CO2 emissions decreased by 4.7 tonnes per household between 1990-2014, the proportion caused by cars increased. What’s more, UK road traffic has grown each year since 1990 (other than during the pandemic).
So, to reduce emissions, try maximising the number of journeys you make on foot, by bike, or by public transport. That includes the bus! The UK-wide £2 fare cap has reduced public transport costs for millions for a few months now, bringing the cost in line with fares in London. All the more reason to take the bus if you can.
Finally, why not lobby your local councillor for a better public transport services in your area, not to mention cycle lanes, bike share schemes, or bike lockers? Speaking up can really make a difference.
2. Create a greener economy by switching bank accounts
Greener banking is certainly a trend in 2023—one we welcome.
Recently, Springwatch presenter and wildlife expert Chris Packham has been encouraging consumers to switch to a greener bank account. He’s promoting Triodos, who claim to be the world’s most sustainable bank. After all, investing in our planet has to involve re-examining our personal financial decisions.
Triodos Bank publish details of who they lend to, notably companies that aim to change people’s lives for the better, to protect our natural world, or to construct stronger communities. For individual customers, Triodos offers current accounts, savings accounts, and investment options.
Meanwhile, the startup nonprofit organisation SwitchIt Green are busy building a green banking platform. You can sign up for updates on Instagram or via their website.
3. Join the movement for energy-efficient homes
The UK energy crisis hit us all hard this winter. However, the poorest are affected more than anyone. So, if you can spare the time, it’s important to speak out. Why not join the campaign for better-insulated, greener homes?
Investing in our planet has to include using cleaner, more sustainable energy sources, as well as decarbonising our homes. Of course, most of us are not policymakers! But, there is more we can do, especially raising awareness. The Chancellor’s recent Spring Budget has been criticised by LSE policy analysts for failing to address the lack of public knowledge of solutions to the energy crisis.
Because when you look at the facts, the situation is bleak. After all, the average energy bill has more than doubled in the last two years. It stood at £1,138 in April 2021. Taking into account the Government’s Energy Price Guarantee, it is now £2,500. Even worse, the number of households in fuel poverty has increased by 3 million in the past 18 months. It stands at 7.5 million in April 2023. We have to improve our energy efficiency at all levels of the economy.
So, what action can we take as individuals?
First, we can educate ourselves. There are schemes to help us make our homes warmer and greener. The Warmer Homes Programme operates in more than twenty UK Local Authorities, improving the energy efficiency of qualifying homes for free. The Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme incentivises homeowners to install cleaner heating systems, yet uptake has not been high. We need more awareness and more campaigning.
Armed with this knowledge, you will be able share it. Make sure that the older and more vulnerable members of your community know where to turn. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau is always a good first port of call.
4. Become a greener, more conscious consumer
Finally, to help the green economy, you can become more conscious of how you spend your money (and your time). In the light of the rising cost of living, being a more conscious consumer resonates with many of us.
According to Deloitte, in the fourth quarter of 2022, UK households resorted to a number of “coping mechanisms” to deal with rising costs. After reducing energy consumption, the second most popular measure was spending less on clothes and shoes. So, fast fashion is definitely on the decline. That’s great news… for our bank balances, and for a greener economy too!
To put pressure on big businesses, you could re-evaluate your spending choices: think green, not cheap. Perhaps you can support the local economy by buying from businesses in your community. Or, you can try to buy more consumer items secondhand. Don’t forget to check goods for Fair Trade Certified or Rainforest Alliance Certified labels — that will help you to buy greener, too. In the long run, the circular economy is more sustainable and less costly for us all.
What’s more, remember that investing in our planet is not just a question of money. Time is a precious resource, too. So, maybe think about how you spend it. Perhaps you can increase the time you dedicate to actions that promote a greener, fairer world. Even your use of social media is worth re-examining. You might consider unfollowing big businesses, as they depend on your attention as well as your money.
Investing in our planet = investing in people
For too long, we have divorced the Earth from its inhabitants and the climate emergency from the economy. Yet in 2023, the world really is waking up to the need for change.
In essence, if money makes the world go round, we have to build a greener economy to ensure a greener future.
So, if you are doing your bit to create the sustainable, equitable world we need, please tell people. You can share this article below. Let them know which action listed above you will be taking to mark Earth Day 2023.