I never really thought much about my banking. I kept my money at a big, convenient bank (I’ll leave it unnamed, but let’s just say it rhymes with shmells shmargo) and didn’t really research my options. Why should I? There were ATM’s everywhere, the customer service department was always helpful, and they let me put a picture of my dog on my card. I was a happy banker.
I didn’t feel like I needed to change my banking situation until I started hearing about some pretty awful deforestation projects that were being funded by US-based banks. What I didn’t realize was that by keeping my money with that bank, I was (in a very slight and indirect way) funding and supporting the very projects that I was actively working against. It felt slimy. I decided that if I was dedicated enough to change parts of my life to benefit the environment, it was about time to divest from my big bank. In the same way that the documentary Blackfish shook the marine life entertainment industry and ultimately made a huge difference in the quality of life for animals nationwide, divesting from big banks is gaining momentum and proving to impact the banking industry.
My first action was to open an account with a local credit union. It immediately felt friendly and personal, and sort of like I was in a cool club. Although they offered lines of credit, I wanted to find a separate credit card that directly benefited the environment. I was new to the credit card world, but vaguely aware of all the “points” earned and airline miles accumulated. I was determined to find a credit card that had some sort of “give back” program to help animals and wildlife.
After lots of research, I finally decided on the Sierra Club Credit Card. It is backed by Beneficial State Bank, a bank rooted in social and environmental responsibility. Instead of granting loans to fossil fuels and deforestation projects, they specifically fund organizations that benefit sustainable agriculture, recycling and repurposing, women and minority owned businesses, affordable housing, and green energy. They also offer a number of affiliate credit cards that support worthy programs like Clean Water Action, Green America, Big Cat Rescue, and Amazon Watch. Every time you use one of those cards, a percentage of your purchase goes to support your cause of choice.
Overall, the whole experience for me has been eye-opening and liberating. I am happy to know that my financial transactions are no longer supporting an environmentally destructive corporation, and that the Sierra Club is receiving donations for my everyday spending. I wish I would’ve done this ten years ago, but the next best time is now.
*This article is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by Beneficial State Bank or the Sierra Club.
Article by: Marcy Silver
Marcy Silver is an artist from California. She is passionate about wildlife conservation and enjoys traveling with an ecologically responsible mindset. She believes the world is a beautiful place and enjoys urban exploration, creating art, and spending time in nature.
Watercolor Illustrations by: Rosaura Unangst
Rosaura Unangst is the owner/artist behind Pigment & Parchment. She studied American Studies at UC Santa Cruz and now sends handmade wedding stationery around the globe & teaches workshops all over California. She is happy to use her artwork to promote education, environmentalism, & pretty much any cause that tugs at her bleeding liberal heart (just email her if you’ve got a cause in need of art).