Generations of consumers are starting to look at sustainability and eco-friendly products, even if it means paying more for it. According to a global online study by Nielsen, Millennials and Generation Z are willing to pay more for sustainable offerings and products. But what about the actual money that’s fueling our spending? Can we change the way we bank and handle our finances to be as eco-friendly as what we're buying?
After all, banking and financial institutions don't exactly have a glowing reputation for being green. But there are actually ways to put your finances to good use when it comes to helping out the environment. Here’s how to start moving toward more eco-friendly finances.
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Eliminate the Junk Mail
According to research collected from HubSpot, the junk mail produced in the U.S. each year weighs the same as over 15,000 military tanks. That staggering number could be reduced from opting out of paper statements and into receiving digital statements from our financial institutions. Consumers can also decline to be added to financial marketing and junk mail lists whenever possible.
However, when you do go paperless, make sure you micro-shed any remaining paperwork to protect yourself. But really there is no foolproof way to prevent identity theft, especially when going digital. That’s why an identity theft monitoring service is absolutely crucial when going green, or just taking measures to protect yourself from financial fraud.
Swipe for a Cause
Before you swipe your next credit card, take a moment to see how you can give back to the environment as you spend. For example, the Nature Conservancy reported it has received over $13 million in donations from its affiliate card released by Bank of America. The CREDO Visa card also donates hundreds of thousands of dollars a month to nonprofits like the Rainforest Action Network. So the next time you charge a purchase, think about where you want extra points and dollars to go to help an eco-friendly cause.
Look for Eco-Friendly Investments
You don't have to blindly set-up a "set it and forget it "investment strategy. Instead, you can look to eco-friendly and green investments to save for retirement while you help the environment. The Pattern Energy Group in San Francisco is working to build wind farms, including a 150-megawatt wind farm in Indiana that will sell 100 percent of energy produced to Amazon's Amazon Web Services. You can also work with a financial advisor to identify mutual funds that invest in eco-worthy companies and products that you’re proud to spend your dollars on.
Get a Green Mortgage
If you’re a homeowner, your finances are probably largely tied up in your mortgage, but you can look for ways to green your mortgage while saving on utilities by looking for eco-friendly alternatives. The Federal Housing Administration's Energy Efficient Mortgage Program can help save money and finance expenses to make your home more energy efficient. Ultimately, homeowners save money on utility bills and focus on eco-friendly and cost-effective energy improvements to free up more income for your mortgage.
Don’t let how you handle your money default to autopilot—from how you keep tabs on your financial information to how you invest your money, think about how you can improve the environment as you spend.
Susan Finch is a freelance writer living in Atlanta, and loves helping businesses improve their bottom line with compelling copy that sparks action. When she's not writing, she's traveling with her family and plotting her next creative pursuit.