If you're anything like me, it's possible you may have spent quite a few hours over the past few months staring at the wall with a general feeling of abject terror and hopelessness washing over you in waves as you refresh your Twitter feed and peruse the current events of the day.
If you're slightly less dramatic than me, perhaps you've just been looking for a way to take some action, however small, to make the world around you a better place. In theory, I would like to be a completely vegan feminist activist with a fully comprehensive knowledge of the inner workings of the governments both in my home country (America) and where I live (the UK) so that I can digest the minutiae of policy changes and disseminate information to my friends and family and stand up and fight for what I believe in. Unfortunately, I really like milk in my cereal and I have a terrible memory and a very low attention span, so both the former and the latter seem out of the question for now.
Sadly, there are more and more reasons every day to fear for our future, specifically the future of our planet which, as far as I'm aware (despite the best efforts of climate change sceptics), is doomed if we continue to ravage it at the rate we have been during the course of human civilisation. Let's not forget that Trump's administration instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website right after the president was sworn in.
So. What do we do? This has been a sticking point for me in the past as I know it often seems overwhelming, impractical, complicated or expensive to make life changes for the good of the environment.
This is why I was really happy to have been present for an inspired (albeit slightly meandering) speech by punk rock climate change crusader Vivienne Westwood at last month's Elle Style Awards. Vivienne explained that she has advocated and raised awareness for climate change issues for years but has struggled with practical action points for people who may not have the time or the means to get involved in a more serious capacity. She was thrilled to have recently found a solution: GREEN ENERGY for your home. She told us that not only is it more ethical to choose green energy over your current energy provider, it will very likely save you money as well.
I came away from this thinking that it sounded nice but was probably too good to be true. My previous understanding was that 'green energy' involved either installing expensive solar panels on your roof or permanently relocating to an eco-cabin in the woods. So I've spent a bit of time doing some research and I'll be damned if crazy Viv wasn't right! It requires no extra equipment, it is very easy to switch and it is indeed most likely cheaper than your current energy supplier. It’s available everywhere in the UK from many different green energy companies and you definitely won’t be able to tell the difference when you turn on your lights. (Green Energy UK guarantees: "The entire industry is regulated by Ofgem, which assures that customers of all energy suppliers receive a reliable and uninterrupted supply.")
Some companies will even make the switch for you and contact your current energy supplier to make it happen so you don’t have to do the admin. And if your experience with the Npower customer service department has been anything like mine, never speaking to them again is a plenty good reason to switch.
If you currently get your power from one of the “Big 6” energy companies (Npower, British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Scottish Power or SSE), your power is coming from nuclear, gas and coal power stations all over the UK. There are plenty of companies out there who are using wind, hydro, solar etc instead, and they are also committed to investing in infrastructure (building solar farms and investing in wind generation, for example). Many of the companies also provide carbon offset in their tariffs, which is an added bonus (and sounds good to tell people). I think it's obvious that we would all choose a more eco-friendly company if only we knew we had the option. I myself had never even considered it before I started doing some research and was really surprised to see how easy it is to switch and how little impact the change has on my day-to-day life (actually no impact). I can't believe it isn't more common knowledge, which is why I have taken it upon myself to spread the word.
A great resource to get started is: Green Electricity Marketplace. It's a handy comparison website for all of the different green energy companies available in your area. Just put in your postcode and they’ll guide you. You may not be as acquainted with your current tariff as I am, but if you use my experience as a template, my Npower tariff was 18.01p per kWh and my new tariff with Octopus is 13.08p per kWh, so it’s already financially more sensible, PLUS I get to be all smug about saving the world. BOOM.
If we all make the switch, it will not only send a message to the “Big 6” about our dissatisfaction with their practices, but will also put the monthly fee we are already paying out into the hands of ethical companies who in turn reinvest it into new technologies that will help make the world a better place. And if that isn't reason enough for you, consider how fun it will be to brag about your environmental activism to anyone who will listen!