TL;DR: you will be shocked by where you sit on the Global Rich List; ethical choices cost less than you think; get excited about your power and use it to avert climate disaster (otherwise we won't care that we saved money, we'll just wish we saved the world); 3 x 5-minute actions at the end.
If you're too overwhelmed by bills and budgets to even think about buying a bamboo toothbrush, much less switching banks...
If you want to live lightly in theory but you find it hard to shake the desire for the new iPhone, fancy skin serum, perfect jeans, electric car or bigger family home...
If you're hesitant to move your money to a more ethical super fund or bank because the Barefoot Investor recommended some other institution for the best financial returns...
If you feel poor and wonder how your friends afford their lifestyle...
If you've ever assumed renewable electricity or ethical banking must be more expensive...
If you think rich people have the power to save the climate, and that's not you...
...I'm super happy for you. Because you're about to find out the truth about your wealth. It takes 5 seconds and it's going to change your life. You ready? (OHMYGOSH YOU GUYS THIS IS THE BEST I AM TOO EXCITED.)
Global Rich List will show you exactly where you sit financially in relation to the rest of the world's population.
Go on, check it out. Now sit and stare at that for a minute. Test how it feels. Then come back to me.
Amazing, right? Does that make you feel as excited as I do?
Here are a few more truths:
You are incredibly privileged. If you have utility bills, a budget and the need for a bank account, you're way ahead of most people. Use your privilege to put your money in places where it will do good.
You already have everything you need, and then some. If you're reading this you almost certainly have stable accommodation, abundant food to eat, hot water, electricity, a warm bed at night, clean clothes, access to medical care, the internet and a phone, books to read, green space to relax in, the freedom to travel and the time to have fun. Revel in the astonishing luxury of that. Imagine your life through the eyes of the people below you on the global rich list, and allow it to elevate your appreciation of your amazing lot in life.
Money isn't the only factor in your choices. If you have all the things I listed above, what more can you need? Now that your basics are taken care of, you have the astonishing freedom to choose how you use the rest of your money. It might be tempting to close your eyes to where your money goes, but if you haven't been intentional about where you keep your money, you are likely actively paying for the destruction of the environment (and for other practises that go against your values.) If global temperatures continue rising and we live to see mass devastation, you won't care that you cut a few dollars from your utility bills, saved on bank fees or got a few decimal points' extra return on your investments. You'll be wishing you'd fought for climate safety when you still had the chance.
You are almost certainly not poor. Stop comparing yourself to other rich Australians, because that's only going to hurt your heart and breed discontent. Start comparing yourself to everybody else in the world. We are frickin' rich. Let's start celebrating it!
Climate-safe choices don't cost as much as you think they do. What's the difference between a renewable energy provider and a climate-damaging one, a clean money bank and one that lends to dirty industries, and an ethical super fund versus one that invests your money in activities that hurt people and the planet? I've done the research, and financially it's pretty negligible. When you consider the cost of paying for corporations to hurt people, animals and the earth, there's no comparison.
We are the rich people. Nobody is going to save the climate except us. (Yes, that's YOU.) We have power over so much money! Consider the impact of your personal cash, plus the funds of friends and family you influence, plus businesses and organisations you're involved in, plus the power of our government globally. That's a shed-load of financial influence.
What you can do about it in the next five minutes:
1. Find out how your bank is using their lending power. Does it look anything like this? If your bank doesn't stack up, or if you can't find out who they're lending to, ask them why.
2. Find out where your super is being invested. Here's an easy-to navigate example of what it looks like for a fund to explain their position. Does your fund tell you exactly what your money is being invested in? If not, why the hell not?
3. See where your power company stacks up in this quick-view ranking of electricity providers by how green they are. (You don't have to sign up if you don't want; just click "I don't want to sign up yet" at the bottom of the pop-up.)
Remember, every time you put money somewhere (as payment or just for an institution to hold onto), that money is actively paying for stuff. Like fossil fuels, pornography, and live animal exports. Or affordable housing, clean energy and education for women and girls.
Get indignant! It's your money they're using!
Enjoy life! You are so rich! Yay!
Feel powerful! Because you're one of the "few"!
P.S. Here's my take on just switching to a climate-friendly power company.