You have been recycling your household garbage for years. You buy your groceries and cleaning products from your local co-op. Many of your clothes are made from organic cotton. Generally, you live a green lifestyle; however, how green are your banking and investment practices? Have you ever thought about banking or investing with a financial institution that matches your core beliefs and values?
It’s easy to become complacent and comfortable with the bank you’ve always gone to for depositing and withdrawing your money. If this is you, make a change today. Encourage your current bank to start an eco-checking or savings account that uses interest earnings to support local organic farmers, environmental educators or green clothing designers.
To change bank providers, start by researching the local banks in your neighborhood to find a financial institution that offers green banking products or programs that strike a cord with you. Many small or independent banks across the country are able to offer unique, green products or programs that can include :
- Eco-checking or savings accounts with interest rates that benefit local environmental groups
- Discounted car loan rates for the purchase of a hybrid vehicle
- Fixed home equity loan rates for installing solar power in residential dwellings
- Commercial business loans that help businesses reduce energy and waste
- Financing for community projects that contribute to wilderness preservation or conservation of natural resources
- Internal bank coffee bars that donate proceeds to environmental nonprofit groups
Finally, when you visit your bank, do you notice your bank taking any initiative to become more environmentally conscious within its operations? Like other industries, banks today need to create a greener work environment for employees and customers. Ask your bank to start an internal recycling program, to install energy efficient motion-sensitive lights, or to switch to non-toxic cleaners. They can also install more windows to provide natural lighting and heat. They can even contract with utilities to use wind-based energy.
The suggested building updates above are just a few of the criteria for achieving the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification distinction, which is a recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. Next time you see your banker, ask him or her if your bank is LEED certified and, if not, encourage your banker to consider this process for future renovation or new building construction projects.
To learn more about green business and lifestyle banking options, see below.
Green Options www.greenoptions.com
Co-op America www.coopamerica.org
Park Midway Bank www.parkmidwaybank.com
Socially Responsible Investing: Making a different and Making Money, Amy Domini, Kaplan Business publishing, 2000.
Co-op America Quarterly newsletter by Co-op America www.coopamerica.org/pubs
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