Taking the environment and climate change into consideration in what we do is important. So too is extending that sentiment to some of the more unlikely facets of our daily lives. Banking and finances is probably one of the areas you might not think you can do anything about, but there's a surprising amount that you can do to ensure that your money and finances are being managed in a green, ethical way.
Green banking as a term covers several different areas, but in general refers to how environmentally friendly your bank is, and how committed to green and ethical policies they are. In this article, we're taking a look at green banking in more detail, including how you can find out exactly how green your bank or building society is.
Green Banking: Environmental Policy
Ask your bank or building society if they have an environmental policy in place, and what it covers. Most banks usually include green and ethical commitments in their manifestos - but there is a lot of difference in these commitments from bank to bank. The first bank to set this precedent was the Co-Operative bank, whose lead has set an example to the rest of the banking world. Their environmental policy document is readily available for view, and includes sections on human rights, the arms trade, ecological impact, corporate responsibility, animal welfare and carbon neutrality.
A key aspect to green banking is the commitment that your bank will put your money into ethical, good natured sections of investment. In the past, it's been unclear where the money you put into a bank actually goes - and less than reputable destinations, such as those that fund the purchasing of weapons and war related activities could well have received funds from your bank, or even from your money without you knowing it. Using a green bank gives you the reassurance of knowing where your money is - and isn't - going to when you go to deposit your cash.
Carbon Neutral Banks
Given the global nature of the banking industry, it would be reassuring to know that your chosen bank operates as a carbon neutral business. Well, more and more businesses, including banks, are turning themselves into carbon neutral operations, meaning that the amount of CO2 emitted during the day to day activities of that bank is neutralised by another activity that utilises or uses CO2. The first high street carbon neutral bank in the UK was HSBC, though smaller banks such as the Norwich and Peterborough building society have been commended for pioneering the carbon neutral campaign
Putting Your Money To Better Use
Rather than committing not to put your money to bad or unethical use, some banks are also committed to specifically putting your money to good use. This includes projects funding renewable energy technology, regeneration in the developing word and investments to worldwide organisations for aid, environmentalism and human rights. Ask your bank if they can offer you an ethical account or investment plan. They will be able to explain which investments they will be supporting with your money, and give you a progress report on how it is going.