Earth Day was created in 1970 to promote awareness about the state of the Earth. Activities often center around rallies and speeches about climate change, as well as ecological cleanup efforts. And while Earth Day efforts are often “big picture” in nature, there are some easy steps you can take in your financial life that can go a long way toward reducing your carbon footprint. Here’s a look at some easy ways you can “green up” your finances for Earth Day and beyond.
If you’ve got a bank account, you’ve no doubt already been bombarded with requests to switch to paperless statements. From the perspective of the banks, switching to paperless statements saves them money, as they no longer have to print and mail out statements. However, whatever the motivation, switching to paperless statements is clearly a green move for your finances. Not only will you be saving a few trees, but you’ll also be decluttering the mail system.
If you’ve only worked with a traditional, brick-and-mortar bank before, consider an online bank if you want to green up your finances. With an online bank, you won’t have to burn fossil fuels visiting your local branch because your entire experience will be online. You also won’t have to worry about a physical branch consuming power and otherwise damaging the environment. You might also be surprised by the low fee structure and high yields offered by many online banks as compared to traditional institutions.
If you don’t think you can completely abandon your traditional bank and move entirely online, consider downloading your bank’s mobile app and doing at least some of your banking online. This will still save you carbon-emitting trips to your local branch, and you might actually be surprised at how easy and convenient online banking can be. If you still need to talk to a live person, consider calling your banker directly instead of making the trip down to your branch.
E-Sign Your Documents
For most bank loans these days, you no longer have to drive down to visit with your loan officer in person to seal a deal. Thanks to companies like DocuSign, financial transactions are rapidly moving online. For example, if you’re taking out a personal loan, a bank officer is likely to fill out your application with the information you provide and simply send you an electronic document showing where you have to sign. Although you may still have to sign certain documents physically in front of a notary, many others can be completed via email. Check with your financial institution to see if you can green up your finances even more by signing your documents online.
Invest In Socially Responsible Companies
One final way to green up your finances is to invest in environmentally friendly companies. Although you might not see the obvious “green” effects of actions like going paperless, investing in socially responsible companies is a long-term way to promote the greening of the Earth. When investors and consumers choose certain businesses and products over others, companies tend to adapt. Look at the electric vehicle industry as an example. What was once a dream that was repeatedly beaten down by the fossil fuel and automotive industries is rapidly becoming the norm, with states like Washington banning the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by the end of the decade. Most major automakers now intend to have fully or mostly electric vehicle lineups by 2035 or sooner.
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