Saving for a bright green future

22 August 2019

As younger people are raising their voice in defence of the environment, Bright Green Future graduate and new Ecology employee, Kristi Bergman, explains why she wants to see her generation take control of their money.

Kristi Bergman

What will our planet look like by the time I’m 40? Why does it feel like we’re so slow to respond to the escalating ecological crisis? How can I contribute towards a greener future? It was questions like these that spurred me to sign up for Bright Green Future – an environmental programme aimed at equipping 14- to 17-year-olds with the skills we need to create change. Via the programme’s work experience scheme, I landed a full-time role at Ecology Building Society, where I’m now busy learning about the day-to-day work behind one of the UK’s most ethical financial organisations.

So, what’s the relevance of a building society like Ecology to a ‘generation Z-er’ like me? Although there’s been a huge surge in young people’s passion to build an ethical and sustainable future, it seems to me that many people of my generation don’t consider the role that our money can play in doing this.

As a young person, I understand that saving money can be difficult and that it’s not always easy to use our money to support sustainable and ethical causes. For example, I find that many sustainable products are more expensive than disposable or less eco-friendly alternatives. This can lead to us feeling frustrated because we wish that we had more money to enable us to make more ethical choices.

However, it’s important to remember that we can make a huge impact without spending any money at all. For example, we can consciously make the decision to buy less, repair what we’ve already got and campaign for systems change so that the environmental cost of something is more accurately reflected in its pricing. Plus, it’s not just how we spend our money, but how we save it, too. That’s where organisations like Ecology can help.

When I save, I want to know that my bank is using my money in a way which aligns with my values and by choosing an ethically sound bank (or building society), I’m reassured that this is the case. Ecology, for example, has supported over 3000 sustainable development projects and in 2018 alone they lent £38.4 million to 255 properties and projects, allowing individuals, businesses and families to make their eco-friendly dreams become a reality.

So, setting up a savings account with an ethical bank or building society can empower young people to take a step towards the change we so desperately want to see. That way, not only can we gain interest on our money and begin to build our personal savings, we can also support our values and contribute towards a brighter future.

With over a million adolescents across the world attending climate strikes every month, I am confident that as a generation we are passionate about making change happen. That’s why I want to encourage young people to give more thought to where they save their money, so that we know it’s positively impacting on the planet.  Don’t just save wherever your friends and family do; take a hard look at the institution that you’re thinking of opening an account with and decide whether the things that they invest in – the things that your savings will be supporting – reflect the world that you want to live in. After all, this is our future and we can invest our money to make a positive change!

Image courtesy of Bright Green Future.