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How can you be better at environmentally friendly banking?

Learn how you can help save the planet by choosing socially responsible banks.

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Fact checked

Our pick for an environmentally friendly bank: American Express® Personal Savings High Yield Savings

American Express® Personal Savings High Yield Savings logo

0.6%

APY

  • No monthly fee
  • Competitive APY
  • No minimum balance
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The global concern for the current and future state of our planet continues to grow, with millions of people wondering how they can make a positive impact. We are challenged daily by non-profits, communities and businesses to make eco-friendly choices, but lifestyle changes aren’t the only way to help. Environmental awareness is a huge opportunity for innovation, which is why green banks are becoming increasingly popular.

Editor's pick: Aspiration Spend & Save Account

  • Unlimited cash back rewards
  • Fee-free ATM withdrawals at Allpoint ATMs
  • Up to 1.00% APY interest on Save balance
  • 10% of the company's earnings committed to support charities

Editor's pick: Aspiration Spend & Save Account

A spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards and deposits insured by the FDIC. The Aspiration Spend & Save Account is a cash management account offering of Aspiration Financial, LLC, an SEC-registered broker-dealer. Aspiration is not a chartered bank.

  • No monthly fee unless you choose to pay
  • No overdraft fee and low foreign transaction fee
  • Low $10 minimum deposit to open an account
  • Easy access via the Aspiration mobile app or website

Savings accounts with an environmentally friendly cause

Name Product Ethical cause
American Express® Personal Savings High Yield Savings
Uses 100% renewable energy in US data centers, has donated over $65 million to preserve historic sites, has aided disaster relief efforts in over 30 countries and has trained more than 3,500 social sector and nonprofit leaders through its Leadership Academy
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Aspiration donates 10% of its profits to charity each year, and it pledges to never use your money to support fossil fuel projects, political campaigns or firearms
BankPurely PurelyMoneyMarket
Pledges to plant a tree for every account opened and is PayItGreen certified
BankPurely SavingPurely account
Pledges to plant a tree for every account opened and is PayItGreen certified
HSBC Direct Savings
Contributed $105 million to community programs around the world in 2018 and works to increase access to clean water through the HSBC Water Programme, including providing access to water for more than 1.68 million people so far
 Capital One 360 Performance Savings
Operates on 100% renewable energy, uses 95% environmentally preferred paper and sponsors local Dress for Success program.
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Compare up to 4 providers

What are green banks?

Green banks use innovative business models and financing techniques to encourage private investment into clean and sustainable technology. While these socially-responsible institutions vary in size, approach and impact, they generally share the following characteristics:

  • Aim to facilitate investment in LCR infrastructure and technology
  • Innovative transaction structures and market expertise
  • Independent authority and reach to design and implement strategies
  • A focus on cost-effectiveness and performance

Beyond these operational characteristics, a few common goals of green and socially-responsible banks include:

  • Meeting ambitious emissions targets
  • Mobilizing private capital
  • Lowering the cost of capital
  • Reducing energy costs
  • Developing green technology markets
  • Supporting local community development
  • Creating jobs

How can you be more environmentally aware when going about your banking?

It is important that people adapt to the innovative solutions that banks offer and help companies to reduce the impact on the environment. Below are some basics tips on how you can be more environmentally aware when banking.

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Use Internet banking as much as you can

For most of your current and future life, visiting the bank consistently is something of the past. Unless you are opening a new account, which some banks now also offer through an online application, just about every single thing you would need to use your bank account can be done online. This includes basic transactions, investing, trading and business services.

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Use a mobile banking app

As with Internet banking, a banking app is a powerful platform to almost everything you would have usually done at a physical branch. Banking apps are an extension of what Internet banking offers.

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Switch to electronic statements

If you are in the habit of meticulously working through your bank statements every one to three months, consider receiving them electronically. Paper might feel more natural now, but over time you will start appreciating the accessibility and time-saving power behind eStatements!

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Ask whether your local branch is environmentally friendly

Many banks now promote using recycled materials within their branches. This includes marketing materials like brochures and posters.

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Why do banks need to offer environmentally friendly banking options?

Banks play a vital role in how we interact with money and it results in banks storing vast amounts of data all around the world. This data can include:

  • Customer profiles that include all contracts and relevant paperwork.
  • Reports of important events and transactions.
  • Reports on important events and decisions that need to be made in the financial sector.

All of these data sets are in paper form and place immense weight on the planet’s ecosystems.

The global demand for resources from the environment is not something that can be ignored. And this doesn’t even touch on the vast impact of producing paper money all around the world. Fortunately, banks are aware of the issue and have made innovative steps in helping customers practice environmentally friendly banking habits.

Bottom line

Beyond lifestyle changes like recycling more, driving less and being more conscious toward the environment, the products and services you use can also make a positive impact. On a larger scale, green banks aim to facilitate investment in clean technology, so choosing to bank with them could encourage others to pursue socially-responsible behavior. And if you’re interested in what else banks are doing to be good stewards, compare accounts with other ethical causes.

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