As a society, we have never been more aware of the impact of our actions.
From the food we eat to the cars we drive, our sense of social conscience has never been stronger.
In 2016, data from The Vegan Society showed there has been a 360 per cent increase in the number of vegans over the last decade. More people than ever are now finding out what really goes on in the meat and dairy industries, and deciding they do not want to contribute to the pain and suffering of animals.
Similar behavioural shifts can be seen in how we get ourselves from A to B. Just 3,500 electric vehicles were registered in the UK in 2013, yet by November 2017 than number had risen to more than 125,000.
Even our sense of fashion is changing. London-based sustainable clothing company Reformation now has 640,000 followers on Instagram – almost two and a half times as large as the following of Jack Wills, the student-orientated British heritage fashion brand.
As 2017 comes to a close and we start to think about new year’s resolutions, it is worth asking: why stop here? What about the pounds in our pocket?
Last year, we conducted a survey into impact investing in the UK and discovered that, while 90 per cent of the population were interested in making their money do good, the vast majority of those surveyed felt they did not have enough information to make these choices.
In recent years, a light has been shone on food production, fashion, and the automotive industry, exposing the harmful practices that, for generations, have negatively impacted the world around us.
We can now shine a similar light onto the world of finance, making everyone aware of the power of their pound and help them to save and invest in businesses they believe in, while still offering the opportunity for financial growth.
This is often called impact or ethical investing. And it’s easier than you might think.
Ethical finance products do not need to be complex – your money can be working to help causes and industries you believe in. Select bank accounts enable you to apply your values to your everyday banking, by putting your money to work in a range of ways that support ethical enterprises and initiatives and promote social, cultural and environmental change for the better.
At Ethex, for example, we list positive businesses or individuals you can invest in through savings accounts, enabling you to support them indirectly, funding their ongoing good work and offering you a lower-risk way of getting a return on your money.
In addition, there are forms of shares that offer you the chance to have a positive impact with your investment (transferable shares, withdrawable community shares, and depository receipts). These allow you to invest while supporting the types of businesses working to make the world a better place.
Taking an interest is the first step to making a difference – and knowing about your options is the second.
Whether it be investment in social projects for local communities, helping businesses provide solar energy to health clinics in rural Africa, or simply knowing that your everyday spend is supporting a bank that holds the same beliefs that you do, there are always ways to do good with money.
Read more: A busy professional's guide to investing