Can you cut 1 Tonne of carbon pollution out of your life?Take the challenge
Australia has one of the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the world, coming in after countries like Saudi Arabia, and we're the world's largest coal exporter. It doesn't look as though the government is going to do anything about changing this, even though we desperately need to. Luckily, it's not totally up to them, and we can flex our consumer power muscle here just as much as we can in the supermarket.
You can send a strong message to big companies and institutions like our banks, super funds and power companies that we don't stand for them supporting the fossil fuel industry - because yes, they either are the fossil fuel industry in the case of energy companies, or they're investing your money in it (banks and super funds). It tends to be really easy to show them you're not happy about this, and once you've done it, you don't have to worry about it anymore at all!
Here's what you can switch and how.
Despite a lot of heat from climate action groups over the last couple of years, the Big 4 Banks in Australia aren't doing much for the climate. Coming off the back of COP 25 in Paris in 2015, all four made big promises to haul their money out of fossil fuels to be put towards renewables. But they never delivered, looking very sad and sorry when their efforts are compared to those of large international banks. Luckily, there are alternatives out there who actually walk the talk. Market Forces is our go-to when comparing the bank you're currently with to a better option. Over here we love Bank Australia, because they don't invest in fossil fuels, but they're also owned by their customers, instead of shareholders, so it's not all about profit, it's about what we want. And on top of that they have their own nature conservation park that protects a whole lot of beautiful, but threatened species like the red tailed black cockatoo! Once you've taken a look at Market Forces and worked out which bank is right for you, you're up to the next step - switching!
Switching banks isn't as easy as some other switches we cover in this article, a lot of the time your bank will pull out every stop to keep you around. But I can say from experience that you'll feel like a superhero every time you have to whip out your bank card and people look at it curiously and you get to give them a bit of a spiel. Put your bank on notice that you're leaving, and really make sure they know why. When you try to close your account, make sure you've already redirected your direct debits and don't make any payments that will sit in that shady area that isn't your 'available balance' for a few days. Your old bank will definitely be on the lookout for this, they want to keep you any way they can. But this shouldn't stop you from making a positive impact with your choice of bank, and once you've done it,tell the world you made the switch why you did it, and how the process was for you so that other people are inspired to follow.
Your power company:
We don't have to wait for the world to transition to power our houses with a planet strong option. There are power companies you can go with who will either allow you to have renewable or at least carbon offset power. Enter The Green Electricity Guide. This website allows you to compare power companies based on which state you're in, so you can pick the right one depending on your budget and how green you'd like to go. The best part about those companies with higher ratings is that you know exactly where your power is coming from, including whether it's local or not, and if it's fully renewable.
Making (or flicking) the switch:
Picking who to switch to is the hardest part, this is easy. If you're usually the person who needs to get your house connected to a new energy provider when you move in, you'll know how quick this is, and if you're not - you're going to find out that this takes less time than buying something online, or drinking a full cup of tea. (Don't be the person who forgets about the tea or forgets about switching energy providers!)
You'll just need to provide a couple of details to the new company and they'll let your ex-provider know that you're switching. If you do end up having to deal with your old provider, don't pass up the opportunity to tell them exactly why you're switching to make your message all the more powerful.
Need more convincing? Here are five reasons to move away from dirty energy
Super fund the future:
For something that's set up to ensure that the future's looking bright, a lot of superfunds don't do a very good job. We know clean energy is the future, and it's going to happen eventually (whether it's in time or not) so it makes sense to have our money invested in it. A couple of websites will complete a package that can help you decide which fund to switch to. We primarily look for super funds that don't invest any of your money into fossil fuels, and then you can also look at what other unethical industries are cut out during their screening process, such as tobacco or weapons. This list will tell you exactly how much each Australian fund invests in fossil fuels, and then you can head over to Choice.com to compare annual return rates on funds they deem ethical, along with more comprehensive listings of which industries each fund screens out. If your superfund isn't on that list, or you're having trouble understanding anything, one of the best things you can do for yourself is pick up the phone and give your superfund a call. It's worth it.
Once you've decided, you can 'switch in three minutes'. They'll contact your previous fund as well as your employer and move all your super over for you. Easy as that!
Read this next: Three things every climate activist should be doing
Written by Grace Liley
Grace Liley is the former Head of Social Media at 1 Million Women. She convinces people to do life admin for the sake of the planet. (Hey, have you switched your banking and energy over yet?) Check out more of her work here.
[Article updated: May 2018]