6b. Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.

Photo: Simon Rawles

Sustainability and profitability are not opposed to each other – what’s good for the planet is good for business.

By joining Ecology, you become part of a something bigger than yourself: a community of people using their money to build a better future.

Paul Ellis, Chief Executive, Ecology Building Society

You don't have control over a lot of things in this world, but you do have choices. Where there's a green or ethical option, I always try to choose it.

Rita Verity, Sonia’s Smile (saver)

What’s good for the planet is good for business

At a Green Party conference in 1980, a Yorkshire solicitor complained of the difficulty he had in finding a mortgage for a property needing renovation. Someone asked 'Why don't we start a building society?' Ten people each put in £500 and the Ecology Building Society was formed.

Ecology aims to build a greener society by lending on sustainable properties and projects, funded through a range of ethical, transparent savings accounts. Its mutual structure enables this mission to be pursued with principles of equality and common interest, rather than the need to generate profits for shareholders.

Ecology’s savers are not just avoiding the negative impacts of investing: they know that their money is only used positively to generate a social and environmental return. Ecology’s simple model, linking savers who want to do good with their money to borrowers who need support, means it can avoid wholesale funding from the money markets.

In autumn 2012, with over 10,000 members and assets of over £100 million, Ecology announced continued strong growth and profitability.

6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.