Let’s build a sustainable, non-corporate system. In fact, there are already people building it, and the easiest thing you can do to help is to invest in it. Do you have money in a bank savings account? We’d like to persuade you to move it – note, not part with it, but move it to somewhere that can help take back land, energy, food, housing, the financial system, employment and all the other necessities of life from the corporate sector. And even better – it will almost definitely give you a better return than a bank. It really is a no-brainer if you’d like to see society move in a more sustainable and less corporate direction. You might also consider leaving money to any of the organisations below in your will.
Here are some sectors that you can invest in right now.
We badly need land reform, if ordinary people are going to have access to it. Land ownership is extremely concentrated. Let’s help change that. There are wonderful land trusts and land co-ops buying pockets of land to re-distribute it to people wanting to work the land and build their own home. For example, the Ecological Land Co-op have built their first settlement of 3 smallholdings, for which they provided planning permission for a home (as long as it adheres to the sustainability criteria in their management plan), a stone track, rainwater tanks and off-grid solar power. They now have plans for a further 22 settlements, for which they require investors. Their projected return is 3%, so better than a bank savings account.
Our partners at Sharenergy will help you set up a community energy project, or you can take your money out of the bank and put it into an existing project, and you’ll get a better rate of return on your money – their projected return is up to 7%, plus you can claim tax back!
…or get solar installed (also a profitable thing to do) – here’s a step-by-step guide
Community-supported agriculture is about investing in farms and smallholdings and receiving a share of the produce. Cut out the middle-man, give farmers a better deal than supermarkets and receive really healthy food. There is much more information on the community-supported agriculture website, and you can find your nearest scheme.
Housing & employment
Housing co-ops and workers’ co-ops are owned by their members, with no landlords or shareholders taking profit out of them. By making a socially responsible, ethical investment in Rootstock you will be helping to provide capital for people starting up housing and workers’ co-ops and social centres in the UK.
Telecoms & broadband
Invest in the only non-corporate telecoms provider – the Phone Co-op, and while you’re at it, you can get your landline, mobile and broadband services provided by them too. This just involves switching from your current provider. The Phone Co-op, aka the Co-operative Phone & Broadband, is a consumer co-op 100% owned by its 20,000 customers.
And then there’s your mobile. A sustainable, non-corporate alternative is Fairphone, produced by a social enterprise and available from the Phone Co-op. The first edition of 60,000 sold out, but you can register for the next model.
Credit unions (owned by their members) offer savings accounts and an alternative to loan sharks for local people – often to start small businesses. Obviously, they need savers if they’re going to be able to offer loans. Why not find your local credit union and transfer some money from your bank account? You’ll almost definitely get a better return, and because they weren’t involved in any dodgy deals, credit unions weren’t at all affected by the crash of 2008.
Alternatively, you can move your money to a fully-mutual building society. The Ecology Building Society is one fully-mutual society that operates just like a bank, apart from the fact that it’s owned by its members. They specialise in lending for less conventional ideas, such as housing co-ops and communities. Remember, the Co-op Bank / Smile is now corporate.
Here’s an adventurous one if you’re up for it. How about investing in Bitcoin? It’s a cryptocurrency that’s secure, international, and best of all, can’t be controlled by banks, governments or any central authority – in fact it does away with the need for banks altogether. As Max Keiser says, “the bankers’ model of doing business is 100 years out of date, and we need to get rid of it”. Bitcoin is by far the biggest cryptocurrency, and is accepted in more and more places (online and real-world), including eBay.
This one’s definitely a money-saver, because it’s free. Open source software is better than corporate software in so many ways – apart from being free, it’s more secure, you can customise it more easily and you don’t need to buy new operating systems or possibly new hardware when there’s an upgrade.
There are plenty of sustainable, independent holiday destinations to choose from. There’s been a trend towards ‘glamping’ recently – holidays under canvas (perhaps in a yurt) in a beautiful, natural location, so that you can commune with nature in accommodation that has a very low eco-footprint. We have several partners offering sustainable holidays. We’ll be adding lots more venues to the link below soon – and we’ll be going international (although the point is to book a holiday that doesn’t involve flying, which is environmentally-damaging and always corporate).
Loan directly to people in poor countries who want to start a small business. Help them to avoid loan sharks and look after their families. Again, this is a loan that will be repaid, rather than a donation.
Fairtade means better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in poor countries.
Let’s develop and support the independent sector when it comes to all the other things that we consume. If you’ve got yourself a low-impact skill, how about becoming self-employed and using it to provide products & services for your community? You could even offer apprenticeships to help young people find alternatives to corporate jobs. And of course, you can support people who take this step by buying what they’re offering. Often, independent goods and services are more expensive than their corporate equivalents, but at the moment, it has to be that way, because independent business don’t have sweat shops in poor countries, don’t avoid their tax, don’t have economies of scale, don’t have multi-million pound advertising budgets and don’t have the ear of politicians. Take a loaf of bread for example – it’s easy to criticise the £3 artisan loaf, but that’s how much a loaf should cost. If you want to pay £1 for a loaf of bread, it will undoubtedly be corporate, bad for the environment and not very nutritious. So instead of criticising the price of local products & services, set up a business or join an existing co-op and help provide those products & services.
Shop locally or find independent suppliers here
Escape the rat race
OK, this isn’t so much about moving your money – it’s more about moving yourself, out of the rat race. If you’re feeling a bit stuck, and can’t see a way out, then you could go WWOOFing. You’ll gain so many new skills and meet so many inspiring people, it will put you in a much better position to decide your next step.
And finally, if you like what we’re doing, donate anything you like to help us do more of it and reach more people.