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At Starling, we want to help look after our planet. We also want to recognise the customers who encourage friends and family to open a Starling account and help us grow. 

Bringing these two goals together, we’ve created a referral scheme for Starling personal and business customers in partnership with Trillion Trees, a joint venture for forest protection made up of three of the world’s largest conservation organisations: BirdLife International, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Every time you recommend Starling to someone and that person becomes a new Starling customer through the referral journey, we’ll plant a tree as a thank you.

So far, your support has helped us reach 1.6 million accounts - a milestone that wouldn’t have been possible without your word-of-mouth recommendations, social media posts and walk-throughs of the app with parents, grandparents, friends or colleagues.

Why Trillion Trees?

Trillion Trees was founded in 2016 with a clear aim: to ensure one trillion trees have been regrown, saved from loss, and better protected around the world by 2050.

“Our three organisations - BirdLife International, WCS and WWF - have come together to speed up conservation and climate action so that we can build a world where both people and nature thrive. Right now, something is out of kilter with our planet and we need to do something about it,” says John Lotspeich, Executive Director of Trillion Trees. 

“If you’ve chosen to bank with Starling, you’re already thinking about how banking can be different. In the same way, we’re continually exploring how conservation can be different - how it can be truly embedded within forest communities and in the ecosystems and economies that surround them,” he says.

“The three charities work in oceans, savannahs, all sorts of landscapes and habitats. But they decided to come together on forests with Trillion Trees because if you get forests right, you get a lot of other things - for conservation and for the planet - right at the same time.”

Why does protecting and restoring trees matter?

“Forests play an important role in protecting our future,” says John. According to research from the Swiss University ETH Zürich, protecting and restoring trees is the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis. 

Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide, one of the gases that contributes to global warming. The more trees there are, the more carbon dioxide can be taken out of the atmosphere.

Forests are also homes for wildlife, promote healthy, stable soils, and play a role in the migration routes of birds, who rest in certain forests on their way to and from warmer climates. And of course, there’s the need to support and protect the livelihoods of people who live in and around forests.

Scientists estimate that there used to be six trillion trees on the planet. Today, there are only three trillion and we’re still losing around ten billion trees each year. That’s why the work of Trillion Trees is so important.

What does Trillion Trees do? 

“Our aim is to protect the forests we have and restore what has been lost. When you protect and restore first, the outcomes are better for everything - carbon reduction for climate change, biodiversity for food chain security, migratory bird paths, clean air and water, soil stability, the livelihoods of local people, ” says John.

“This partnership is so exciting. Starling immediately understood the need for long-term collaborative commitment to change and help to restore forests.” 

For the next thirty years, BirdLife International, Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF will be working together to protect and restore forests and end deforestation - something that Starling customers can be a part of.

“What makes Trillion Trees unique is that we are committed to the before and after stages - we strive to ensure the right trees in the right places, growing them in a nursery, restoring them, then making sure we do everything we can to ensure those trees survive,” says John. 

“So this partnership is a win for trees, Starling customers and the planet. For each successful Starling referral, we will plant a tree - and because it’s been planted by our partners, we’ll take good care of it and of the forest it’s in.” 

Trillion Trees partners work with local communities in more than 100 countries around the world. Trees through the referral scheme will specifically be planted in Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania.

Trillion Trees
Planting trees with Trillion Trees

How do I refer a friend to join Starling?

To make a referral and support the work of Trillion Trees, go to your Starling app and pull up the main menu. Select ‘Account Management’ and tap ‘Refer a Friend’ and follow the steps outlined on the app. A unique link will be generated that you can share with a friend. You can make referrals from your personal or business account, though not from your joint account at the moment.

For the referral to be successful, your friend will need to complete a short form on your unique referral webpage, download the app and apply to become a new Starling customer. Once their personal or business account is open, the referral process will be complete, meaning that one tree will be planted by Trillion Trees.

What impact does Starling have on the environment?

As a digital bank, Starling already has a lower carbon footprint than traditional banks. We don’t have branches, which means less electricity and heating, and we don’t automatically send out paper statements to our customers. Our three UK offices - London, Southampton and Cardiff - operate on renewable energy, and the packaging we use for our debit cards is recyclable.

You can read more about our commitment to doing the right thing in our ethics statement. You can also read environmental tips on our blog, including ways to live a life that doesn’t cost the earth and why digital receipts are better for the environment.

Our partnership with Trillion Trees is a further positive step to being greener and bringing our customers with us on our journey. Your support, literally, means the world to us. To get the green ball rolling, we’re making a one-off donation to Trillion Trees for 2014 trees to be planted. Why 2014? It’s the year Starling first began – when we planted our very first seed.

Starling Bank will make a donation to WWF-UK, a registered charity with charity registration number 1081247 in England and Wales and SC039593 in Scotland, of £3 for each bank account, which is successfully opened with Starling Bank as a result of a referral under this scheme.

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