The Resistance: “Concerned About Climate Change? Change Where You Bank!”

Source, Todd Larsen: Concerned About Climate Change? Change Where You Bank! –

An excellent idea for the Resistance.

It isn’t that difficult to move your money into another kind of bank, one that isn’t supporting the fossil fuel industry. I mean, how many times in your life have you changed banks? Before I found my forever bank--Amalgamated–I moved banks whenever I changed jobs, to make it easier to bank during lunch hours.

Of course, we don’t do that anymore. I, for one, bank almost entirely on line and my deposits are made electronically. The only time I need a physical bank, so to speak, is when I need cash, and my bank’s cash network–All Point–is one of the “I can take out my own cash without paying a fee” networks at Santander ATMs found in most CVS stores.

I have one friend who takes an old-fashioned approach to banking: she goes to the bank every time she has a transaction. “Why?” I asked, incredulous. She said she didn’t trust all that on-line stuff. I dropped the subject because, hey, I’m not going to convince her. Although I could have given her the single sure-fire method for developing passwords that no one, and I mean no one, can break.

Back to the central subject. I moved money into Amalgamated many years ago, back when I learned it was a union bank. Why did I choose Amalgamated? Well, we’re currently in the middle of the NFL draft so I feel quite au courant in explaining that, during the NFL Players Union’s 1982 strike, Amalgamated funded the union.

It is remotely possible that you have no particular interest in selecting a bank for its football connections. But somewhere near you (click on the “local institutions” link, below), you’ll find a bank not named JPMorganChase, Wells Fargo, TD Bank, etc. (Another reason to stay away from TD Bank: it’s founder, Joe Ricketts, is $heavily$ involved in right wing politics.) (Of course, you don’t have to go to the trouble of actually opening an account at Wells Fargo; they’ve been opening accounts for people without telling them.)

Moreover, local banks are far less expensive. A little story: when I was running the office for a small law firm, one of my duties involved balancing the bank accounts. I started to get really irritated at the multitude of odd bank fees each month’s statement contained. It seemed every transaction involved an additional bank fee.

Meanwhile, my own Amalgamated checking and money market accounts cost me…nuthin’. All I had to keep in my MM account was $500 and both accounts were fee-free.

So I called up the law firm bank (I think it was Chase) and asked them to get rid of their fees. The woman I was speaking to became sort of lecture-y and crotchety, as she explained why the bank charged fees. How every bank charged fees.

“Not my bank,” I said. She got huffy. “Really?” she sneered. “Where do you bank?”

“Amalgamated,” I said. “Oh,” she said, her voice lower, i.e., kind of beaten down. “Well, that’s special,” she said.

Indeed. It is.

A few excerpts to give you an idea:

Many people might not realize that their savings may be working directly against efforts to address climate change. If you bank with any of the largest American banks — including Citibank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo — then every dollar you put in to your checking and savings accounts is funding fossil fuel development across the country.

The Dakota Access Pipeline? Funded by megabanks. Keystone XL Pipeline? Same story.

Megabanks are expanding fracking, oil drilling, pipelines, compressor stations and export terminals from coast to coast. They’re underwriting decades of reliance on fossil fuels, and directly undermining the important work of cutting climate emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

So what can we do as average Americans? One thing we can all do is not let Wall Street destroy the planet with our money. There’s a growing movement of Americans moving their money away from megabanks and into community banks and credit unions.

These local institutions invest in their communities, creating jobs and housing — not dirty energy projects. Community-based banks and credit unions are helping to put solar panels on roofs, end food deserts and help people start thriving local businesses.

And you can shift your other investments, like your retirement savings, to fossil-free mutual funds that invest in clean energy. You’ll get competitive returns, and you’ll know that your money is working for a cleaner world.

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