Budget 2018. Purposeful.Money's Key Notes

In his third Budget Phillip Hammond has heralded that the era of austerity is now finally coming to an end – Note the careful language that he has used here, he has not said that austerity is over but ‘coming to an end’! He has also discovered that he had more money to play with than he had expected.


The Overview

The dramatic improvement in the outlook for the UK’s public finances gave the chancellor enough leeway to fund previous government pledges of extra money on the National Health Service and housing without big increases in taxes.

Borrowing has persistently come in under forecast. The OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) expects borrowing to be £11.6bn lower than forecast at the Spring Statement.

But, with so much uncertainty in the air, economic growth remains anaemic by both historic and international comparison. The OBR now expects the economy to grow by 1.6% next year, 1.4% in 2020 and 2021, before picking up to 1.5% in 2022 and 1.6% in 2023.

The proposed digital tax is a political statement but won’t be the sales tax that might have affected UK internet businesses. Duty was frozen on beer and spirits (instead of increasing as it did for wine) which is good news for pubs.”

Aside from an increase in the tax-free personal allowance and higher-rate tax threshold there were no major tax announcements for individuals. This makes it an opportune time to make the most of valuable tax allowances, reliefs and exemptions that already exist – especially as this could be a short-term window of opportunity, with just five months to go to Brexit.

What are the key Purposeful notes from the budget


Plastics tax

A missed opportunity!

The Government will impose a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging that contains less than 30% of recycled plastic.

Disappointingly there will be no special levy on disposable plastic cups.

The Chancellor has reiterated previous comments that the UK must become a world leader in tackling ‘the scourge of plastic littering our planet and our oceans’. Mr Hammond stated that there are ‘billions of disposable plastic drink cups, cartons, bags, and other items are used every year in Britain. Convenient for users but deadly for our wildlife and our oceans’. These are sentiments that we at Purposeful.Money fully endorse.

It is sad that this commitment did not extend to a so called Latte Levy which had previously been suggested as a means of dealing with the country’s disposable cup waste. 

2.5 Billion cups are being thrown away every year. (Image Source: Acre)

2.5 Billion cups are being thrown away every year. (Image Source: Acre)

The latte levy which was first floated by the Environmental Audit Committee would constitute 25p being added to the price of each coffee to encourage the use of reusable alternatives and also provide a fund for proper waste management.

Mr Hammond stated however that ‘I have concluded that a tax in isolation would not at this point deliver a decisive shift from disposable to reusable cups’.

It is important to note however that in 2015 the government added a 5p charge to plastic bags, a move that appears to have cut the sales of these bags by 86% and therefore seen fewer entering the environment.

There have been many calls therefore for the government to repeat this success with coffee cups and plastic bottles.

Greenpeace Executive director John Sauven said ‘Three weeks since the world’s leading climate scientists said government have just 12 years to turn the tide on the catastrophic and irreversible consequences of climate change the Chancellor has delivered a budget that reads as though he has missed the memo’

It does look as though when we are currently in the middle of a plastics pollution crisis the Chancellor has failed to take even a small step towards reducing the usage of single use plastics by not introducing a tax on disposable coffee cups.



Pension tax breaks are safe…. for now!

This is despite the Chancellors recent gripes that the bill for pension’s tax relief is ‘eye wateringly expensive’.

This statement prompted many to think that he could be about to do something radical with pensions. So, it will have been a good news for many savers that he had little to say on this subject.  It has been a relief that the popular ‘perk’ which allows everyone to save into a pension from untaxed earnings  has remained untouched despite the bill being £39billion a year to the Government.

Specifically Mr Hammond did not cut the tax-free annual savings limit, or introduce a flat-rate of tax relief as had been feared.

The annual allowance – the maximum that most savers can put in pension pots each year and enjoy tax relief has also been left intact despite fears it could be reduced from £40,000 to £30,000.

The Lifetime allowance however for pensions will rise in line with inflation from the current £1,030,000 ceiling to £1,055,000 in April 2019.

The Chancellor’s comments on how expensive the current system is could however mean that the current pension tax reliefs are on borrowed time.

Inheritance tax

Earlier this year, the chancellor asked the Office of Tax Simplification to review the level of complexity in the current inheritance tax system. Its report is due this autumn, and Mr Hammond had nothing to say on it in the Budget.

Once again, given the interest the chancellor has expressed in the subject, and the possibility that there could be changes ahead, it makes sense to make the most of the existing allowances while you still can.

You don’t have to wait until death to pass on wealth – as most people do. Transferring wealth while you are alive can have a transformative effect on your family’s life and reduce an inheritance tax (IHT) liability.

There are a number of annual gift allowances which you lose if you don’t make use of them before the tax year end. For example, you can give away £3,000 each year and this will not be subject to IHT. You can give as many gifts of up to £250 per person as you want during a tax year, as long as you haven’t used another exemption on the same person.

If a gift is regular, comes out of your income and does not affect your standard of living, any amount of money can be given away and ignored for IHT. It is also possible to make further tax-free gifts – potentially exempt transfers – but you have to survive for seven years after making the gift to get the full benefit of it being outside of your estate for IHT purposes.

Income tax and ISAs

The Chancellor announced that from next April people will be able to earn £12,500 a year tax free and furthermore not pay 40 per cent tax until they have reached earnings of £50,000.  This increase has taken place a year earlier than planned.

This makes the tax-advantaged savings available in an ISA even more valuable. Investment returns are tax-free in an ISA. That means there is no income tax or capital gains tax (CGT) to pay – whether those returns come in the form of interest, dividends, or shares going up in value.

This tax year adults can put up to £20,000 a year into ISAs (so for a couple that is £40,000) and up to £4,260 a year into a Junior ISA for a child. The adult ISA annual subscription limit for 2019-20 will remain unchanged at £20,000. The annual subscription limit for Junior ISAs for 2019-20 will be increased in line with CPI to £4,3685.


When you look to utilise your allowance in a stocks and shares ISA consider whether the investment also meets with your ethical values and concerns. 

Purposeful.Money can offer you advice to ensure that your ISA or pension is invested in funds where these important considerations are taken into account.

(Image Source: Which?)

(Image Source: Which?)

Other Key Points from the Budget

  • Stamp Duty abolished for all first time buyers of shared ownership properties valued up to £500,000, applied
    retrospectively to the date of the last budget.

  • A freeze on beer and cider duty for the next year and a freeze on spirits duty, saving 2p on a pint of beer, 1p on a pint of cider and 30p on a bottle of scotch or gin.

  • National Living Wage will rise in April from £7.83 to £8.21

  • New Millennial railcard available by end of year

  • Income tax personal allowance threshold to rise to £12,500 at the same time from April 2019

  • Higher rate tax threshold to rise to £50,000 at the same time

  • Counter terrorism police to get an extra £160 Million fund 2019/20

  • A one off £400 million payment to schools to allow them to ‘buy kit’.

  • An extra £1 billion for the MOD

  • Business rates bills curt by one third for the next two years for all retailers in England with a rate able value of £51,000 or less, delivering an annual saving of up to £8,000 for up to 90% of all independent shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants.

  • Start-up loans funding to be extended to 2021.

  • The Private Finance Initiative PFI and its successor PF2 abolished for future government projects

  • UK Digital Services Tac to be introduced in April 2020 targeting On-Line giants with more than £500 Million in global revenues.

  • Freeze of fuel duties for ninth consecutive year

  • An immediate £420 million payment to tackle potholes, bridge repairs and other minor road works – Good news for cyclists!

  • An extra £1 billion over 5 years for the Universal Credit benefit programme.


Planet Meat: What is your steak doing to the environment

When we think about Planet Earth and humanity damaging it the first thoughts to come to mind are the heavy consumption of fossil fuels for energy, our crippling dependence on plastic and possibly the quality of air falling due to high usage of petrol fuelled vehicles. What one wouldn’t expect is that the amount of environmental damage from the animal agriculture industry is slowly poisoning our planet, quite literally. In 2006 the UN described the livestock sector as ‘one of the most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems’.

Intensive farming is the use of highly intensive practices to produce livestock; poultry, pigs and cattle are confined and crammed in huge numbers into tight cages and sheds where they are reared to their biggest size to yield the best profits for their producer. Producers say this process is supposedly driven by the demand of cheap food. Intensive farming not only meets but facilitates this need providing a product efficiently and competitively. Almost every aspect of the environment is being damaged by this cheap and efficient farming process.

Intensive farming puts a heavy strain on our resources, an example of the extent is that if all grain currently fed to livestock in the US was to be consumed directly by people, then those who could be fed would almost reach 800 million. There are some 795 million people on the planet (Food Aid Foundation) that do not have enough food to be considered that they have a healthy, reasonable quality of life. If resources were allocated more efficiently then world hunger could practically be eradicated. But that’s just one of many, in this blog I will be exploring in more detail the environmental effects that intensive farming has on the planet.


Continual ploughing of fields to grow endless amounts of grain to feed livestock, means soil is more exposed to oxygen and its carbon is released into the air, making it bind less effectively. Not only does the soil lose its elasticity, it’s also less able at storing water – which diminishes its role as a barrier to floods and a nutrient rich base for plants. These weak soils are also being washed away by harsher weather events caused by climate change. Combined with heavy use of fertilisers, this has degraded soils all around the world to their bare mineral components, erosion happening at a pace of up to 100 times greater than the rate of soil formation.

Soybean farming (Image Source: PETA)

Soybean farming (Image Source: PETA)

Over 90% if the world’s soy crops are grown and used to feel animals, in order to cope with the projected world demand for meat, the production of soy would have to increase by 80% by the year 2050 (PETA).

It can take around 500 years for just 2.5cm of top soil to be created amid unrestricted ecological changes, with the extent of the damage caused it would take centuries to replace the same quality of lost soil.

A 2009 study found that four-fifths of the deforestation across the Amazon rain forest could be linked to cattle ranching. And the water pollution from factory farms where animals can produce as much sewage waste as a small city, according to the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC).

In the UK The Environment Agency and its counterparts in Scotland and Wales have recorded 536 of the most severe incidents between 2010 and 2016, the worst instances among more than 5,300 cases of agricultural pollution in the period across Britain. These figures relate to pig, poultry and dairy farms in the UK whereas in Scotland they refer to all livestock farms. While there is not official estimate of the cost of the damage caused, or future cost of the damage being fixed/cleaned up will present, but many farmers appear to be struggling with the price of pollution – under investment in equipment such as slurry stores is likely the reason behind breach cases. Moreover, the investigation also found evidence that some farmers are possibly ignoring the pollution risks and are regarding the fines incurred if caught as if a cost of doing regular business. The financial pressures farmers are facing that is making them be ‘careless’ about waste disposal methods, these pressures are likely to only get tougher under Brexit and there is little knowledge so far on what subsidies will be operating in 2022.


Just to initially put things in perspective, around 3.8tn cubic metres of water is used by humans annually with 70% being consumed by the global agriculture sector. Livestock production accounts for around 23% of all water used in agriculture - equivalent to more than 1,150 litres per person per day (WWF). With the world population growing this value is more than certain to increase. The impacts of augmented water scarcity are already being felt. About half of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed since 1900 (WWF), water sources provide a habitat for a high concentration of animals – mammals and fish and even birds. Wetlands also provide a range of services as an ecosystem such as storm protection, flood and climate control, water filtration and recreation. Also effected are the natural landscape


Most food grown does not end up in our plates. Crops and grains grown that could be feeding us are used to feed animals being reared – these animals will generate around 500 million tons of waste each year, just in the US (Environmental Health Perspectives). Waste such as manure and fertilizer are rich in nitrogen, a primary polluter of (US) coastal rivers and bays, which in conjunction with phosphorous increases algae growth. The algae growth is harmful as it leads to surrounding areas to be depleted of oxygen, causing marine life to either flee or die – this process has already massively depleted two-thirds of our coastal waters oxygen supply. In the States, a vast number of agriculture waste is dumped into the Mississippi, the longest river of North America, which eventually feeds into the Atlantic where dead zones peak in the summer, every year. The Gulf of Mexico sits in the Atlantic Ocean just under where the Mississippi feeds out and the damage stretches out close to 8,185 square miles.

Oxygen depleted zones of the Gulf of Mexico via satellite (Image Source: Clean Technica)

Oxygen depleted zones of the Gulf of Mexico via satellite (Image Source: Clean Technica)

Curbing the discharges that are let into the lake will alleviate the effects but once a water source enters the state of “hypoxia” there is no turning the effects back, especially keeping in mind the current standard of living that people are expected to.

The number of ocean dead-zones have increased by four-fold in size in the last 50 years and this increase has been linked to the animal agriculture industry and its practices. This brings environmental risks such as increased temperatures reducing the capacity of the ocean to hold oxygen in the future, habitat loss worsening and leading to horizontal and vertical migration of aquatic species, lower oxygen concentrations resulting in a decrease in the reproductive capacity and biodiversity loss. One of the most impactful risk is microbes that multiply at very low oxygen levels produce lots of nitrous oxide, the greenhouse gas that is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

What can you do

Reducing your meat intake is a step you’ve heard everywhere before, but instead of turning a full-fledged vegan right away you could gradually decrease your meat consumption over time. This is particularly directed to you if you have an addiction to bacon! ‘Meat-free Mondays’ is global movement where a person will give up meat for a whole day. For one day a week you can explore amazing different meat-free foods, of which recipes are widely available online. Of course, for those who feel more strongly and believe that they could take the plunge, there is always the route of becoming vegetarian or vegan. Eating a balanced vegetarian or plant-based diet can bring many health benefits such as lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, better blood sugar levels- all while making sure animals aren’t being treated cruelly.

Contact Purposeful.Money to find out if your money is invested in companies that support Intensive farming.

Good Money Week: Why our portfolios are now divested

In light of Good Money Week we wanted to explain why our portfolios are now fully divested.

It is a fact that there are a growing number of people who are aware of, and want to fight against, man made climate change. It is also a fact, that most pensions and Stocks and Shares ISAs contain funds which invest in fossil fuel extraction or exploration companies due to the simple fact that they historically have provided excellent returns. I’ve spoken to clients who donate money each month to charities such as Greenpeace, and at the same time hold money (without realising it) through their pensions, in Shell and BP!

We’ve been wanting to provide a solution to this problem for some time. The problem for us wasn’t necessarily a lack of time, knowledge or inclination, but more a lack of choice! For example, winding the clock back only a few years, I could only find one fund which had a clear, checkable policy on excluding fossil fuel stock. One fund of course is not enough to make a portfolio! Our aim as wealth managers is to ensure that client money is diversified, can be tweaked according to changes in performance, cost, the emergence of new funds, risk and so forth. We have been checking the market place continually since that point, and, happily for clients and for the world in general, there seems to have been a rather swift change of direction in the market. We’ve seen numerous new funds launch, matched by clearer exclusion policies for existing funds.

Image Source: Finance Matters

Image Source: Finance Matters

We now offer portfolios which are 100% free of fossil fuel extraction and exploration companies to suit every category of investment risk. A divested range of portfolios such as this is something we believe to be unique in our sector and has taken years of ongoing research and gradual improvements to work towards, with continued effort required to maintain and develop the proposition.

You might ask yourself why we believe that fossil fuel investment should be avoided?

Firstly, we consider the overwhelming scientific consensus that man-made climate change is real, and is a result of our carbon emissions to be a compelling reason not to support the industry on ethical grounds. Climate change is causing problems in a range of areas where it is not yet perhaps given full credit. A warmer climate is leading to more extreme weather events and destabilized seasons which can lead to turmoil for farmers and our food resources. As well as the humanitarian issues; we are losing land- with trillions of dollars of real estate around the world is on coastlines and directly at risk from a rising sea level, and animals such as polar bears, coral and turtles.

Image Source: Forbes

Image Source: Forbes

Secondly, and removing any ethical, moral or political arguments, we have the risk of the ‘Carbon Bubble’. At the recent Paris Climate Agreement (COP21), 195 nations agreed to various measures to ensure that global temperatures did not exceed 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial temperatures, as it has been accepted that we will experience an environmental catastrophe if we go much beyond this. We now have a legal obligation to reduce the level of carbon emissions at a national level. This means that significant assets currently making up the balance sheets and therefore the valuations of fossil fuel companies, can never be extracted and turned into money. This means that right now, many of the world’s largest companies, whose shares are owned by most of the worlds investment and pension funds, are significantly overvalued. We do not consider this a worthwhile risk to take, especially when you factor in the growth, and potential growth available through their competitor industries in the clean energy generation sectors.

If you also believe in avoiding fossil fuels we can check your pension or ISA for them, and if necessary help you ensure that your money is no longer supporting the fossil fuel industry, or indeed at risk from it!

We're now 100% divested from fossil fuel extraction and exploration

I’ve always thought that ‘bubble’ was quite an inadequate word for describing a market force with the power to destabilise the global economy. However, the imagery attached to the word works, we can picture the bubble getting larger and then bursting, then… the comparisons end. When a soapy bubble bursts, it just simply ceases to be, but the other kind? Well, you will probably remember the sub-prime mortgage bubble bursting? The immediate aftermath saw the collapse of Lehman Brothers bank, panic in most financial markets, job losses, central banks and governments in chaos and vast sums of money effectively being sprung out of nowhere, generated into the system through quantitative easing in order to stave off the end of the world. We’ve had years of austerity in the UK, impacting millions of people who had never held an investment or mortgage or product which had directly supported the sub-prime mortgage market. The Bank of England alone created £435 Billion through its QE programme as a response to this bubble bursting. For context, that is £435,000,000,000, enough money to build over a thousand new hospitals!

Economists justifiably refer to it as the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Quite a bubble. 

And all of this happened due to a breakdown in regulation and oversight combined with the natural phenomenon of human greed playing out in a relatively small sector of the market. Since it happened, measures have been taken to prevent it ever happening again. Banks can no longer hurl money at people who would never be able to prove they were capable of making the repayments. Levels of cash being held by banks has risen to ensure that central banks will not need to bail them out. The mortgage process from start to finish came under intense scrutiny for years. And yet… As is so often the case, we learn a hard lesson and fail to apply that learning more broadly. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and usually very badly applied. We want the good times to continue, so we carry on doing specific things which ‘work’, until those specific things stop working.

Which leads us to carbon.

Oil pumps (Image Source: Museo Fisogni)

Oil pumps (Image Source: Museo Fisogni)

One way of looking at this is that ‘everything is fine’. Most pension funds invest in gas or oil or other forms of fossil fuel and it makes sense as to why they are - it costs much less to extract than what it sells for, and there's profit to be made at every step along the supply chain. This is how it’s always been. You could go so far as to say that our entire economy would grind to a complete halt without a supply of oil. Not only are we dependent on it, we’ve been heavily dependent on it for decades. It’s an ingredient in plastic. Its energy helps us produce everything. It helps us transport everything. 

It is a very much larger part of our lives, our economies and our investments than the sub-prime mortgage market ever was. 

And yet there is now a scientific consensus that our use of fossil fuels will destroy the ecosystems which support our existence on this planet. Unless we make swift, large scale changes in how we go about our lives, we are possibly not going to have a future as a species. This is a very uncomfortable thought and since we are not seeing the consequences (or not enough of us are) yet, because things have not actually broken down and because the bubble has not yet burst, we are ignoring the problem. The problem is even more difficult to deal with because it is still providing heating but also profit for us. We are addicted to fossil fuels on one hand, and inert, either through our laissez faire nature or fearful avoidance of contemplating the sheer scale of the problem on the other.

This, however, does not mean the problem is going away, or that the bubble will not burst.

Perhaps now would be a good time to explain why we are referring to a ‘carbon bubble’, and why in some ways this offers a glimmer of hope.

As we’ve alluded to, the investment world is welded to the world of fossil fuel exploitation in a way which is incomparable to most other asset classes. If you look ‘under the bonnet’ of almost any pension in the UK for example, you will find shares in more than one oil company. Your own pension, wherever it is held, is unlikely to be an exception. It would be fair to say that there are thousands of people in this country alone, who’s professional lives are spent watching, analysing and commenting on the price or movement of fossil fuel assets. People in the financial services industry, like us, know very well what sort of factors have what effect on what asset. It’s not rocket science, you do not need to be an economist to predict what will happen to the price of a product if, for example, a rival company comes up with a demonstrably better equivalent product. 

We refer to a carbon bubble because we know that our use of fossil fuel cannot continue as it has done in the past, yet it continues. We understand that if the assets (oil fields, coal mines etc) which currently exist on the balance sheets of fossil fuel companies are monetised, the global climate will be pushed above a threshold where our survival is possible. We know that clean energy sources are becoming cheaper and more efficient with each passing week. In other words, we know that change must happen. 

An off shore oil rig (Image Source: Steve Ringman/ The Seattle Times)

An off shore oil rig (Image Source: Steve Ringman/ The Seattle Times)

We see three potential outcomes. Firstly, no change in our behaviour, we carry on exactly as we are until it is too late, at which point the value of investments will no longer be a priority for anyone. We’ve seen tiny examples of how powerful a small change in global climate can be. It has resulted in floods, fires, hurricanes, water and food shortages which has displaced millions of people, led to conflict between nations and shaken the insurance industry. Larger changes will be cataclysmic. The second potential outcome is that the bubble bursts. Potentially we have enough time to address the climate problem, but the realisation of this and action comes too late, and much too swiftly to stop a huge economic collapse. It is estimated that $20 Trillion of fossil assets which we already know about, need to stay in the ground for human life on the planet to continue. If this is accepted by the markets in a sudden, panicked reaction to a final admittance that man-made climate change is real, the infamous bubble will burst. The recent sub-prime mortgage bubble will be a picnic by comparison. When credit dried up, we were able to replace it with money from nowhere, despite the ensuing problems.  The same rules do not apply to a tangible asset which is present in almost every good and service we consume.

The third way is to begin a global move away from a reliance on fossil fuels, as swiftly and smoothly as possible. This move will need to take many forms. From switching to renewable energy for our cars, homes and businesses, to cutting our reliance on plastic, to sourcing more of our food and goods at a local level. Every part of our modernised way of life will need to move within the parameters of the natural world, and we have to admit this. Clearly, this is the preferable option, and even more so clearly, we are not ready for it yet. One way of beginning to speed up the transition to a sustainable, carbon neutral economy/existence is to move money directly away from damaging areas such as fossil fuel exploration and extraction. This will have two immediate positive impacts for the planet. Firstly, less ‘bad stuff’, secondly, more chance of the money being used to find and improve alternative solutions which will speed up the positive change. From an investors perspective (and anyone with a pension is an investor), you can safeguard your money from the potential bursting of the carbon bubble, and help bring about positive change, simply by ensuring that your pension is not still deeply involved in fossil fuel exploration and extraction.

Our portfolios are now fully divested, ensuring that our clients’ pensions and ISAs benefit from all of the research and attention you would expect from a wealth manager, whilst helping the transition to a sustainable economy and relationship with the world.

Divestment protest in Oxford (Image source: Climate Change News)

Divestment protest in Oxford (Image source: Climate Change News)

For more than one reason, now might be a good time to check where your pension or ISA money is actually invested. You can contact us today for a no obligation conversation about how we might be able to help you, and you might be able to help the wider world.

How to Help Turn the Tide on Plastic Pollution

As a global economy we have become addicted to plastic since its emergence in the 1960s. Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century. (Eurostat, 2015) It is ever present, and covers almost everything we buy. Unfortunately, it’s almost ever present even after we’ve used it, and is beginning to cover and choke the systems which sustain us. It is said that one garbage truck of plastic ends up in the oceans, every minute. (World Economic Forum) More and more people are aware that there is a problem, and that they are contributing to it. What can we all actually do about it? In the absence of leadership at government level the rest of us must step up and begin to turn the tide on plastic.

Laysan Albatrosses, “A chick can have an ounce of plastic in its belly and remain healthy; the dead chicks have twice as much.” (Image Source: Chris Jordan, Ocean)

Laysan Albatrosses, “A chick can have an ounce of plastic in its belly and remain healthy; the dead chicks have twice as much.” (Image Source: Chris Jordan, Ocean)

Due to the fact that plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose we can all try using less whenever this is an available option (Recycling Guide). Think of your day-to-day life, where can you cut back on plastic? A reusable coffee mug and water bottle? Bring your own bags to the supermarket? If permitting, instead of shopping at multinational supermarkets that cover everything in plastic, why not try your local fruit and vegetable market- not only is their produce not suffocated in plastic and probably organic, but you’re also contributing to your local economy. To try and look at it in perspective, think of the difference even a small change like this will make… For example, one cup used over and over instead of hundreds throughout a year... If society begins and maintains acting collectively with each person doing their little bit, then the effort will be multiplied and this results in a bigger change!

Landfill filled with plastic waste (Image Source: Shuttershock)

Landfill filled with plastic waste (Image Source: Shuttershock)

If you want to be more proactive, there are numerous lobbying groups and campaigns which you can join, being part of a team that are like-minded will help keeping the positive messages going and inspire others. Greenpeace, Avaaz, Friends of the Earth to name but a few are always looking for more people to help spread the word on using less plastic and other green ways of living.

Another problem with plastic is that it is not just about pollution, and the fact that we are strangling the environment with our discarded single use plastics… It’s also that we use huge amounts of fossil fuels to make them in the first place. Why we find it acceptable or normal to act in such a wasteful fashion is probably a topic for another blog, however, at this point we would like to shed some light on another way that you personally could help turn the tide.

Grey whale in net, “Marine mammals like whales often mistake marine debris for a potential food source.” (Image Source: Environmental Impact Assessment)

Grey whale in net, “Marine mammals like whales often mistake marine debris for a potential food source.” (Image Source: Environmental Impact Assessment)

If you own a type of financial instrument, for example an ISA or a pension, there is a very good chance that within the investment hidden behind the name of the fund- you own all sorts of stocks and shares in companies that you might have wanted to avoid. Oil and gas companies, tobacco companies, weapons manufacturers make up disproportionately large chunks of the investment world as they have always generated money for the owners, the shareholders. However, there are many other ways to increase your wealth, and lots of these can actually have a positive impact on society and the environment! If you have made the effort to buy reusable coffee mugs and water bottles, take your own bags to the supermarket, perhaps even helped with a litter pick-up, why not take a closer look at what the money in your pension is supporting?

We are here to help shed light on how investments and pensions work, and how yours could become a real force for good with considerably less exertion on your part than a day picking up litter in the park!

Here are some more scary facts about plastic use!

  • Each EU citizen creates an average of 31kg of plastic waste per year (Source: Eurostat, 2015)

  •  The European country creating the most plastic waste per citizen is Ireland, with an average of 61kg thrown away each year (Source: Eurostat)

  •  A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes, however its estimated that 4 trillion plastic bags are used annually worldwide (Source: Plastic Ocean)