Green Finances: Checking Your Bank Accounts - dummies

Green Finances: Checking Your Bank Accounts

When you examine how your finances can help the planet, start with your checking and savings accounts. Some financial institutions have realized that their clients are concerned about the planet and the good of the people, creatures, and plants living on it, so they offer accounts linked to environmental or community-building efforts. Ethical or green banking is growing in popularity, and so more accounts are being offered.

A financial institution’s account-greening options may include the following:

  • Donating a set amount or part of the interest on your savings account each month to a green cause

  • Giving you the option to purchase checks made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper

  • Using the money in your savings account as leverage to provide funding for loans to energy-efficient real estate projects or clean energy and eco-friendly businesses

  • Working with environmental or conservation groups to help them purchase property in order to protect it

  • Offering free or low-cost online Internet banking in order to reduce the carbon footprint left by printing and mailing paper statements

As with any other kind of accounts, shop around to get the checking and savings accounts that best suit both your banking needs and your ethical concerns. Because green ethics aren’t always black-and-white choices, and because implementation of green investing varies with each financial institution, you may find that you need to prioritize what matters most to you in a green account.

When you’re shopping for a socially and environmentally ethical bank account, be cautious about the word green. Some banks use it simply as an account name, like gold or classic, without any link to environmental causes.

If you’re having trouble finding green accounts, the Social Investment Forum lists various green or socially responsible financial services.