In 2020, we saw ethical lifestyles take off in a big way. For some people, this is the way they’ve always lived, while for others it was encouraged by necessity or circumstance. Sustainability has become a common topic of conversation over the past few years and it’s something that a lot of people now factor into their day-to-day purchases and decisions.
So, with this in mind, what could you do to maintain an ethical lifestyle once we return to whatever the ‘new normal’ looks like? Here are some sustainable habits that you could keep to:
Carry on Saving
You may think that saving the money doesn’t necessarily mean saving the planet, but that could depend on where you’d be spending your money otherwise – for example, on single-use plastics from ready-meals, to fast fashion items that you’ll likely only wear once. During the first lockdown in 2020, household savings (aka coronasavings) skyrocketed from 8.9% in January-March to 25.9% in April-July!
Much of this was forced savings – with no pubs, restaurants, cinemas, or shops open, the only way to spend money was at online retailers or on essential services. This wasn’t great for the economy, but it helped millions of households increase their emergency savings and put even more money in their ISAs.
If you fell into this category, then it could be worth stopping to think about what you were spending your money on before lockdown and consider if that benefits a sustainable lifestyle or not.
Research what you’re buying
Online shopping is great for so many reasons – and not only because you can do it at home with your slippers on! For a start, you can quickly check prices across thousands of stores, dive through customer reviews, and even look at what independent experts say to ensure you make the best purchasing decisions.
This level of research means that it’s much easier to find options that meet your ethical standards – whether that’s toothpaste in a biodegradable tube or clothes made with sustainable and organic materials. Before you make a purchase, spend some time to find companies or services that meet your ethical criteria.
Whatever you may have thought of the various taglines the government dished out during the pandemic, ‘stay local’ is definitely a good thing. Not only do you help to boost your local economy but staying local means that you tend to support smaller independent businesses. It can even work to reduce your carbon footprint, as you won’t be driving as far – you could even opt to cycle or take public transport instead.
You could even take “staying local” to the kitchen and start growing your own veg – not only could this help to save you money in the long run, but you’ll know exactly what went into growing it (and what’s more local than your own house?).
Think about your travel
While we’re talking about staying local, it’s worth thinking about how you’re travelling. After a year of being locked in the UK, chances are you’re looking for a sunny and relaxing escape somewhere other than here. But if you want to stay ethical – and by that, we mean environmentally friendly – it could be worth looking at how you will need to travel to get there.
For example, instead of jumping on a plane and flying to somewhere in Europe, why not hop on a train instead? Chances are it could be cheaper, not much slower from start to finish, and it will be a lot more environmentally friendly too. If you’re interested to see just how much difference any trip across Europe would be in a car, plane or train then simply punch in your journey on eco passenger.
Do you remember at the start of lockdown when suddenly everything was impossible to get hold of? Toilet paper was rarer than unicorn dust, and pasta was off the menu for most of us. We have changed our approach to food and this massively cut down on waste during the covid-19 pandemic. Whether you were in the 63% of people who went shopping less often, or the 41% of people who started doing pre-shop planning, this behaviour helped reduce food waste.
With seven out of ten of us already looking to maintain these habits, we’re heading in the right direction to reduce our waste. But is this really an ethical issue? Yes! By reducing your waste, you can reduce the pressure on land and water resources, deliver a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and even increase the availability of food to those who are more vulnerable.
Expect more from businesses
During the pandemic, a spotlight was thrown on companies – not just looking at how they operate, but how they treated their staff and customers. For many of us, a business’s approach to how they’ve operated during this time may have fundamentally changed our perception– for better or worse.
The companies who have arguably done best are those who’ve gone out of their way to look after their staff. For example, the supermarket Morrisons, increased their front-line employees’ bonuses three-fold.
In a post-lockdown world, to maintain an ethical lifestyle we should continue to expect more from businesses. That means actively searching and supporting businesses that are engaging in all aspects of their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).
The Greener Good
The Greener Good is a rather selfless approach to ethical living. It’s a lifestyle change where you put the environmental impact of your actions and decisions before yourself. With 57% of people willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce their negative environmental impact, this lifestyle is already taking off.
It doesn’t have to factor into everything you buy, because for many of us, the research required would be a mammoth task. However, factoring it in to your bigger purchases or your regular everyday ones could make a significant difference to your environmental impact.
In the world we’re living in, money speaks louder than words. But that doesn’t always mean that you have to spend your money to make a difference. With Ethical Investing, your money can have a very real impact while potentially increasing in value – having a good impact on your pocket as well as the world.
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How does this happen? By investing in companies that are committed to having a positive impact on society and the environment. Essentially, you’re using your money to show that these are the things that matter to you. This then helps support businesses who are having a positive impact on the world or are actively working to improve their practices.
By shifting the sustainability focus from individuals to businesses you’re likely to see greater positive impact and more development or progression. For example, over the last decade, the public has demanded more renewable energy which has caused this generation to skyrocket – delivering 18 times more generation between 2003 and 2019!
This hasn’t just increased generation, though. It’s also added more jobs, increased research and development, and delivered a positive environmental impact. And you can bet that increased investment in renewables was brought on by ethical investing!
Not sure where to start? We can help! Being an ethical investor requires a whole heap of research, and we have people in our team who spend days going through and checking that what we’re invested in is ethical and continues to meet our standards. If you want to invest ethically, but don’t know where to begin, then why not open an Ethical Stocks and Shares ISA with Wealthify? You can start from as little as £1 and will be able to see exactly what you’re invested in using our app or online dashboard.
With investing, your capital is at risk, so the value of your investments can go down as well as up, which means you could get back less than you initially invested.