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Green banking: 7 simple ways you can help protect the environment

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Everyone can do a little bit to help the Earth.

Believe it or not, the way you bank can also make an impact.

Banks know that climate change and global warming are important to many banking customers and you can do your part to help the environment through your banking choices. Follow these seven green banking tips to help the planet.

1. Go paperless

This is one of the easiest ones. Not only does it help the environment by using less paper, it can also reduce clutter around your home and in your mailbox. It also means you’ll get your bank statement as soon as it becomes available.

Paperless can mean e-statements or it could mean a text or email receipt at the ATM too. It’s always a good idea to have proof of your transaction. But that proof doesn’t necessarily have to be a piece of paper.

Also, going paperless may save you money by avoiding paper statement fees. Paper statement fees can generally cost you between $1 or $5 each month.

You should be able to print a statement yourself during those times you need one.

2. Use technology to bank from home

You can do your part to cut down on emissions by not making a trip to the bank. Use mobile or remote deposit capture to deposit some checks into your bank account. There may be some limits on the amount you can deposit or availability of your funds, so check with the bank before making this type of deposit.

Especially during times of stay-at-home orders or people going out less, mobile deposits can make depositing a check from anywhere easy and socially distant. It can also be a time saver too.

3. Automate your commitment to the environment

Just like it’s easier to achieve your savings goals by automating your savings through split-deposit, by having a part of your paycheck automatically go into a high-yield savings account, it’s also easier to commit money to the environment by automating it.

At Aspiration, a tree is planted for each completed debit card transaction for those who opt into the Plant Your Change service. “While others have round ups that go to saving money, this is a roundup that goes to saving the (planet),” says Andrei Cherny, CEO and co-founder of Aspiration. Aspiration isn’t a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) bank. But it uses program banks to get its customers FDIC insurance. Always confirm with your bank, or an institution like Aspiration, that you’re within FDIC limits and guidelines. Cash management accounts tend to work similar to Aspiration.

4. Change your method of transportation

Biking or walking to the bank can help you exercise and get your banking done. This might not be an option for everyone. Just cutting down the number of visits to a branch or ATM might make a difference.

Also, having an account with a bank that has a large ATM network might help you both not have to travel as far to find an in-network ATM and be more convenient. Also, doing business with a bank that reimburses ATM fees is also a way to lower the amount of traveling you do in a vehicle to get access to your money.

5. Use other payment methods besides checks

Zelle or an equivalent service can help you pay someone electronically right from your account. This reduces the need for using paper checks from your checking account.

Sometimes, using online bill pay to pay someone will result in a paper check being mailed out. So make sure the method you’re using is truly paperless, like Zelle.

6. Bank with a bank that cares about the environment

Some banks really put an emphasis on being green and protecting the environment.

Limelight Bank is an online bank that has relationships with national solar product providers. It contributes to the funding of solar projects. This results in an increase in solar energy projects, according to Limelight Bank’s website. Limelight Bank offers short-term CDs. It has a six-month CD, one-year CD and an 18-month CD.

Bank of America, the second largest bank in the U.S. based on total assets, says it became carbon neutral earlier this year.

7. Impact investing may be an option for your portfolio

Investing through a social or environmental impact is impact investing, according to Bank of America. A majority of retail customers say social impact is key to making their investment decisions, according to a January 2020 Fidelity research customer survey.

Fidelity, for instance, allows you to search for environmental, social and governance (ESG) exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on its website.

Bottom line

Some consumers are thinking more about where they spend their money. The same goes for banking. Whether it’s a bank that’s committed to the environment or an institution that has electronic options to avoid using paper and saving trees, some people are interested in doing their small part to help the environment.

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