Sophia runs a company called ‘With Many Roots’, offering communications support to non-profits and start-ups. Sophia spends most of their time travelling, and also enjoys blogging, writing and journaling.
Why did you decide to open a Triodos current account?
For me, it’s about trying to live by my values, not just professing them. Going through the motions and trying to be ethical in not just one area like cutting down meat, but looking at every aspect of my life.
I’ve been influenced a lot by Ethical Consumer and I think a couple of years back, Triodos was at one of its conferences meaning I could see a person behind Triodos. That really helped encourage me to open an account.
Describe your experience switching to the Triodos current account
I used CASS (the Current Account Switch Service) to switch to Triodos and it was so easy and convenient. Even funds that go into the old account get re-directed in the new one. All the Direct Debits moved over, all my regular payees moved over, and it was seamless.
Who were you previously banking with?
I’ve been with the same bank for 28 years for no other reason than that was who my mum banked with. However, I have worked in the environmental sector and you start hearing stuff about how high street banks have spent their investments, being involved in everything from palm oil and forest devastation to money laundering and all sorts of things – even separate to the scandals around the 2008 crash.
So, I’ve known for a long time that I never really wanted to give them any more of my money. But, I found the idea of looking for an alternative a little bit overwhelming, and I probably put it off for years. The nudge was when I set my business up. It was a catalyst to engage as a more informed consumer.
It was super easy to complete the forms. Since switching, I feel much better and have peace of mind. I’m glad I know what my bank does with my money and savings– even if it’s only modest amounts!
What has been your experience of using the current account so far?
The interface of the banking app is very intuitive. I love that I can see all my accounts in one place – my current account and my ISA.
How do you feel about paying £3 a month for your account?
We’re so used to things being ‘free’ that we automatically balk at a £3 bank charge as it’s not something we’re used to in the UK.
But if you look across most sectors, the reason we’re getting things for free is because other people, or other things, or the environment is shouldering the real cost. ‘Free’ covers all manner of sins so I’d rather know what product I’m buying and then pay appropriately for it.
What do you think of the eco-friendly debit card?
I think the plant-based debit card is a great talking point. It’s almost like the cherry on top. It makes absolute sense that Triodos has invested time and effort into a card that reflects its values.
Knowing the thought that’s gone into it and what it’s made of, makes me feel proud to show it off. When your customers are proud of your bank card, I think you’re onto a winner. It’s also worked perfectly fine so it’s not just a novelty, it’s functional too.
Tell me why it is important to you that your bank supports your values?
Being ethical is becoming much more mainstream. But I think we need to be wary that in an Instagram-filtered age we act on our values wholeheartedly, not just token activities for show. We need to look at all of our behaviours from how we travel to what we read, the way we eat and the way we bank – working towards covering all these bases if you want to lead a more ethical lifestyle. I think it’s hard to do it in every aspect of your life and there are lots of people trying and lots of people (including me) that will fail regularly.
However, having the banking side covered in a way that was not that difficult to achieve is a quick win. It’s done now, and it slots into my life easily. It gives me that peace of mind. Now I’ve set it up, it doesn’t occupy my day-to-day thoughts. It’s something that I put a lot of effort into researching, then I set it up and now I’m getting the benefit without thinking about it.
I felt compelled to share that I’d switched to Triodos on my blog and that it was easy. Lots of people want to make themselves more ethical but don’t know how to go about it. So, I was glad to start a conversation around how easy it was.
What sectors in society would you like your money to support the most?
The transparency of knowing where my money goes is fantastic. I love that I’m helping to support a bank that’s lending to such fantastic organisations across renewable energy, local farming and community building. Little things are important to me – like seeing Triodos supports small organisations around Glastonbury. All the things that I care about in my personal life are cared about by Triodos and that gives me nice warm fuzzy feeling.