The Sustainable Summer series gives investment professionals from the responsible investment space an opportunity share their habits and summer activities that are contributing to a more sustainable world.
For these light-hearted pieces, we ask about summer plans and holidays, and charitable work.
Here, Natasha Turner, global deputy editor at ESG Clarity, discusses local communities, food banks and Iceland by sea.
To view the full Sustainable Summer series click here.
How has your year been so far? Have you stuck to any sustainable New Year’s Resolutions?
It’s hard not to be affected by the political, social and environmental turmoil in the world right now, and I can get caught up in ‘doomscrolling’, which isn’t great for one’s mental health. One of my aims for this year is to refocus on mental health, which in a personal capacity has meant re-engaging with cognitive behavioural therapy and having long periods of zero or reduced consumption of alcohol.
The finance industry is notoriously boozy and it’s easy to get caught up in it. Hopefully flexible working will mean a rethink of this.
What are the benefits of spending more time in the great outdoors?
Community organising is absolutely key if we’re going to have any chance of combatting climate change and inequality, so I suppose that’s the greatest benefit of spending more time outdoors and in your local community.
As someone who moved countries twice as a child and now rarely rents in one location for longer than a year, I’m very interested in the idea of communities and how to be most impactful when you aren’t part of one and when they are increasingly transient and divided. J.K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron and Stephen Healy’s Take Back the Economy: And Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities is giving me food for thought, but I’d love to hear from readers about this too.
Are you planning a holiday? How will you make it ESG-friendly?
I did go to northern Italy this summer and travelled everywhere by train and bus, but of much more interest (and environmentally friendly) is my partner’s two-month sailing trip around Iceland. In June he left Scotland on a friend’s boat for the Faroes, with several whales in tow, before crossing over to Iceland. He sailed around the top stopping at places such as Húsavík (for the Eurovision museum of course), Akureyri, Reykjavik and the Vestemann islands, where there is a beluga sanctuary, an island from the 60s, a mountain from the 70s and the wonderful tradition of sprangan! He was back in the Faroes for St Olaf’s Day (midnight dancing in the town square) and is now looking to make the crossing back to Scotland when the weather is right. Apart from using diesel, it’s a very low-impact way to travel, although you do have to know someone with a boat…
Are you taking part in any charity events or initiatives benefitting the climate or society?
I had been volunteering at a foodbank, putting packages together. There are different groupings of packages such as vegetarian, halal, gluten-free, and there’s also kettle-only. In these ones you can only put in food that can be eaten raw or cooked using a kettle. It’s so frustrating to hear out-of-touch politicians talk about the cost of eating healthily when they haven’t factored in the cost of cooking (energy) or what resources people have (kettle only). If you don’t follow Louisa Britain on Twitter, you should.
How are you connecting with nature this summer or protecting biodiversity near to where you live or work?
I’m a city gal but, as you can probably tell by his holiday, my partner prefers being out in nature – the more dramatic the scenery the better. He’s persuaded me into walking and hiking more, and we recently climbed a couple mountains. At home, I don’t have a garden but I’m becoming a bit obsessive over my houseplants (typical millennial).
Has your employer got any sustainable activities planned this summer? What does it do in the workplace to ensure it mitigates its impact on the environment?
Not that I know of, but flexible working means people aren’t commuting all the time. There are a couple committees on the case for looking into environmental impact, giving back, who to work with and so on though.
What would you like to see more of in the investment industry from a sustainability perspective?
I’d like to hear more about degrowth, or at least more about using different measurements for growth, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator, and how this realistically relates to returns. It seems to me the myth that investing sustainably doesn’t mean sacrificing returns is wearing thin as we realise cutting growth and consumption is our only bet for saving people and planet – but let’s discuss!