Why Ethical Banking Is The Change You Need To Make This Year

Essential guide to living sustainably: ethical banking

If you’re reading this, chances are you already research the brands you buy, reduce your plastic waste or use a clean energy provider. These lifestyle habits are simple, yet positive ways to reduce your impact on the environment. But there’s an even more impactful change you can make in your fight against climate change: switching to ethical banking.

Despite the urgent need to stop global warming, and the damage being done to our environment and the health of our communities, Australia’s financial institutions continue to play a critical role in supporting the fossil fuel industry.

We’ve put together a guide to ethical banking, so you can be sure your money is working for the planet, not against it.

Using your money as a force for good

The money you’ve got in your bank and super accounts is not simply sitting there patiently waiting for you to spend it, it’s being used by the institutions to fund their own investments (so they can profit). These investments can be used to support various projects in industries such as fossil fuels, tobacco, firearms and gambling.

The good news is there’s a growing number of financial institutions investing in clean or renewable energy projects, better housing developments and not-for-profit organisations. You can use your money as a force for good by banking with these institutions.

Put your money where your mouth is

You might think that the money you’ve got in your bank or super fund is really not that much. But it’s not about how much money you have, it’s about what you do with it. 

If you decide to leave the current financial institution you’re with, they will ask you why. And if they get thousands of customers leaving because they invest in harmful industries, they’ll have no choice but to reassess their position.

Drop the ‘big four’

As a community, we have the power to change the big banks. But we need you to join our campaign, ensuring your money is used as a force for good.

If you bank with one of Australia’s big four, your money is being used to finance harmful fossil fuel projects that are damaging the environment and driving global warming. But as a customer you have the power to make a difference.

The power of divestment

Quite simply, divestment is the opposite of investment – the action of removing money that has been invested somewhere.

Divestment has taken on great significance as a global movement as more individuals and institutions take action to ensure their money is not being used to fund projects and industries that they don’t agree with. The movement is fuelled by a growing awareness of how personal finances are exposed to environmentally damaging projects through the banks, super funds and share portfolios that they are invested with.

Go not-for-profit

What is the difference you ask? Profit. Banks are ‘for profit’ when credit unions are not-for-profit. Banks are privately owned or publicly traded, credit unions are member-owned, and don’t have shareholders. And yet you probably don’t know a whole lot of people who are with credit unions. Simply because they often operate at a local level and spend less on advertising.  

Start your ethical banking journey

To check what your bank invests in, Market Forces has put together a Bank comparison table. Spoiler alert, the big four banks (ANZ, NAB, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac) all invest in fossil fuels.

Whether you decide to go with a bank or not-for-profit union, it’s all about doing your research. Find an institution that’s 100% transparent in their investment positions.

After all, the less money that’s funding climate destructive projects, the better. 

Editor’s note:

Parts of this article was first published in Market Forces. This Weekend proudly supports media initiatives aimed at reducing the effects of climate change.

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