Five sustainability tips to implement today

Football is back. The first match was a disappointing return to the Premier League for my beloved Fulham, but it’s not dampened my optimism for the rest of the season (my fantasy football team is another matter entirely, and the prize could be slipping through my fingers already).

League Two, however, was much more impressive – albeit for different reasons. My husband shared an article about Forest Green Rovers – a team which not only won its opening match but is also the first club on the planet to be certified carbon neutral by the United Nations. How cool is that?! It’s the first and only vegan football club in the world and the greenest, according to FIFA. And it’s bringing sustainability to a whole new level.

“We just can’t consume our way to a more sustainable world.” — Jennifer Nini, activist and certified organic farm owner

Five sustainability lessons from the greenest football club in the world

1. Green energy

The entire Forest Green Rovers club is powered by 100% green electricity and carbon neutral gas. Some of this energy is even generated using solar panels on the stadium roof. While it’s not feasible for everyone to put solar panels on their roof, there are a number of different ways you can implement clean energy in your own home, including switching energy tariffs to more renewable sources and remembering to turn off your lights when you leave the room. In a recent podcast, Stuart Springham, deputy manager of TM home investor told us how he hopes the green homes grant may start an energy-efficiency revolution.

Read more about how to invest in power more efficiently

2. Pesticide free

The Forest Green Rovers pitch is not only organic, it’s also free from pesticides and herbicides. The grass is also cut with a GPS-directed electric lawnmower, powered by energy harnessed from the sun. While my little London garden isn’t quite big enough for a GPS-directed lawnmower, we are able to use pesticide free treatments on our grass and garden.

According to Pictet Asset Management, precision irrigation is one of the innovations aiming to cut the use of water in agriculture and also reduce the amount of pesticides, that will in turn cut water pollution. That brings me on nicely to the next area: conserving and saving water.

3. Save water

The club collects rainwater from beneath the pitch for use for pitch irrigation. It reminds me of a story my Mum used to tell me: she used to collect the rainwater to wash her hair, because my grandmother would time their showers to save money! While I won’t be collecting freezing cold rainwater to wash my hair, I do collect it to water my indoor plants. It’s efficient and my plants thrive.

Did you know only a quarter of a percent – yes 0.25%* – of the world’s water is usable? The rest is too salty, too polluted or frozen. And, as the world’s population grows, the pressure on this vital but scarce resource is intensifying. One company looking conserve water is Ecolab. A top ten holding in Rathbone Global Sustainability**, Ecolab manages 1.1 trillion gallons of water^. Its innovations conserve more than 171 billion gallons of water each year and it’s working to help its consumers save 300 billion gallons of water annually by 2030^.

Read more about water scarcity and how to invest

4. Electric vehicles

The club encourages sustainable travel to all games and also provides EV charge points from The Electric Highway. If you can switch to an electric car that’s great, but of course that’s not always feasible. If you can’t switch vehicles, opt for public transport or even a car share such as Zipcar.

Of course, you could invest in the sector instead. Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has been a long-term investor in Tesla. Manager Tom Slater talked about both Tesla and Ferrari when we interviewed him last year.

5. Go vegan

Football and vegan goes together, right? Forest Green Rovers is the world’s first vegan football club offering freshly made vegan food to all players, staff and fans, which is great for the environment, health and performance. If you’d asked me a few months ago, I would have been skeptical, but my husband and I recently cut out red meat from our diets and I have to say, I don’t miss it. In fact, we’ve had vegan burgers for the last three Friday’s in a row and they are delicious! We asked Carl Stick, manager of Rathbone Income fund – who also happens to be a vegan himself – about the Beyond Meat IPO, in our meat-free investing podcast.

*Source: Pictet Asset Management, Water: the high tech approach, March 2019
**Source: Fund factsheet, 31 July 2020
^Source: Ecolab sustainability report 2019

The views of the author and any people interviewed are their own and do not constitute financial advice. However the knowledge that professional analysts have analysed a fund or trust in depth before assigning them a rating can be a valuable additional filter for anyone looking to make their own decisions. Before you make any investment decision make sure you’re comfortable and fully understand the risks. If you invest in fund or trust make sure you know what specific risks they’re exposed to. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. Remember all investments can fall in value as well as rise, so you could make a loss.