How to ‘green’ your money: Tips for finding sustainable banks

Your money could be having a positive impact on the planet (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Most people struggle to get excited about banking.

Our personal finances are usually confined to turgid lists of ‘life admin’, and often overlooked in favour of more exciting pursuits.

However, if you care about society, the environment or your impact on the world, then you have cause to share my enthusiasm for the positive impact you can have with your savings, current accounts, pensions and investments.

Greening your money is one of the most significant (and easiest) ways to combat climate change and make a difference.

And if you aren’t taking steps to make sure you are banking for good, then you are probably banking for bad.

The problem is that when you deposit your money, a bank doesn’t just lock it up in a vault and leave it there, contrary to the plots of countless classic films.

Instead it is invested, and where your money goes is completely up to them, and rarely made clear to you. Even though it’s your money.

Dr Bevis Watts can help you learn about sustainable banking (Picture: Paul Box)

Most UK banks have a track record of investing in things that you might never dream of supporting in other areas of your life. Unless you have actively sought a bank that is against doing this, then that’s what your money is probably being spent on.

Should it be like this? No, of course not. Banks can play a role in telling damaging industries that it is not OK, your money should be used in your long-term interests and have a positive impact on your future.

They should be transparent about the loans and investments they make.

Sustainable banks like Triodos follow a different model. You get the usual everyday banking service, but the money you put away is being invested in line with your values.

This helps tackle pressing societal issues like climate change, social housing and food insecurity.

Banks should be connecting you with the organisations and projects that you want to support.

So what can you do? Talk to your bank or investment provider about these things, and if you don’t get the answer you want, move your money. And make sure that your new bank aligns with your values.

Options are out there and by taking action it sends a message to the rest of the finance industry.

Are we actually ‘building back better’ and pursuing a green recovery post pandemic?

Can we live in a world that meets the needs of today, without harming the ability of future generations to meet their needs?

That will remain to be seen, but in the meantime we can all be part of the solution.

One of the most impactful changes you can make as an individual to shape a more sustainable society is to move your money.

In this column, over the next few weeks I will be tackling some of the things that anyone undertaking the move to ethical money will need.

I will offer tips and tricks on where to look, give advice on how to avoid ‘greenwash’ and gimmicks, and demonstrate the impact that you can have with your money.

Dr Bevis Watts is the CEO of Triodos Bank UK.

If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

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