If you’re worried about the health of our planet and want to start making money moves that contribute toward a sustainable future, it may be time to ditch the big banks. Though institutions such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Citigroup have begun focusing on fighting climate change in recent years, changes are happening slowly. And do we really want to do business with banks whose dealings have contributed toward the global climate crisis for decades?
According to an article from the MIT School of Management, though large financial companies are well aware of the public desire to protect the environment and invest in sustainability initiatives, “institutional inertia,” or a tendency to resist breaking from established ways of doing things, holds these institutions back from committing to real progress. If you want to feel confident that you are banking and investing with a company whose interests align with yours, it is probably best to switch banks entirely.
Luckily, there are lots of companies to choose from if you want to feel better about where you keep your money and where it is invested. Look for a Certified B-Corporation, which means that it meets “the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” You may also want to find a bank that is a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), whose goal is to “change the banking system so that it is more transparent, supports economic, social and environmental sustainability, and is composed of a diverse range of banking institutions serving the real economy.” It is also crucial to choose a bank or company that has publicly committed not to finance fossil fuels.
Ready to start banking and investing with more ethical, sustainability-focused companies, but don’t know which ones fit the bill? Here are our recommendations.
Ando is a mission-driven, B-Certified online bank that invests customers’ money entirely in green initiatives. With their user-friendly app, customers can see just how their money is being used to fight climate change. Ando invests in clean energy, sustainable transportation, regenerative agriculture, green buildings—once you start banking with them, you can see the breakdown of your impact across over thirty initiatives in five high-level categories all aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
Amalgamated is an online bank deemed the “official social responsibility partner” by the WNBA. This bank makes its stance on important issues known and fights for racial justice, economic justice, reproductive rights, gun safety, and sustainability. Amalgamated is 100% carbon neutral, never invests in fossil fuels, and has committed $700 million in lending to causes including solar energy and sustainable foods.
Aspiration is another fully online bank committed to never funding the oil or coal industries. Banking with Aspiration includes many planet-friendly features, such as Plant Your Change, which helps eliminate customers’ carbon footprint by planting a tree for every purchase made. If you are a Plus cardholder, Aspiration will offset the carbon dioxide from every gallon of gas you purchase with your card. And then there is the newly introduced Zero card, which rewards customers for reducing their carbon footprint and doubles cashback rewards when a cardholder reaches carbon zero. You can also feel good about investing your money through Aspiration. Their Redwood Fund and Redwood IRA enable customers to invest with only sustainable companies that are 100% fossil fuel free.
Atmos is committed to creating meaningful change for a cleaner environment, and a cleaner economy. This online bank funds clean energy, offers 5% cashback when customers purchase from sustainable brands, and allows customers to easily make fee-free donations to organizations that are leading the charge on saving our planet. Check out the Atmos Blog, a useful resource for those who want to learn more about saving, investing, and eco-friendly banking.
Beneficial, another Certified B Corporation and a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, was founded with a vision to provide the local community with an environmentally sustainable banking option. This bank uses its funds to support communities and advance social justice initiatives. Beneficial has physical locations in California, Oregon, and Washington and is open to customers only in those states for now. You can see the concrete actions Beneficial has taken toward positive change since 2017 by checking out their Impact Reports.
Mascoma Bank strives to be a force for good in the communities it serves in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. As a Certified B Corp, Mascoma is mindful of its impact on the local community, its customers, its employees, and the planet. This year, Mascoma’s Environment Impact Team announced their long-term goal to move Mascoma toward zero waste in an effort to significantly reduce the bank’s impact on the environment.
Spring bank is located in New York and is the state’s first B Corp bank. It is focused on supporting underserved communities, offering affordable financial products, and serving the needs of its communities. Because it is B-Certified and fossil fuel free, you can feel confident that this bank aligns with your environmental values.
If you are looking for fossil-free mutual funds and ETFs to invest in or if you want to check whether a fund from your existing plan invests in fossil fuels, this tool will come in handy. You can check which funds have the smallest carbon footprints and make decisions about how to invest based on which funds align with your values. The tool assigns each fund a fossil fuel grade, tracks clean energy investments, and offers other useful data to help investors make informed decisions.
Want to invest directly in vegan and sustainable companies? This Vegpreneur list is for you. It breaks down all of the publicly traded companies you can invest in right now that “don’t just value profits, but also their impact on people, animals, and the planet.” Companies on the list include Beyond Meat, Sol Cuisine, Oatly, Honest Company, and Good Natured Products.
With so many ways to use our money as a force for good, there’s no reason to bank with or invest in companies whose practices continue to harm the planet. Each of us has the power to create change by putting our money toward a better future. Moving away from the big banks toward environmentally responsible institutions will send a powerful message that preserving the planet is our top priority.
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Katt Yukawa, Mika Baumeister via Unsplash