Why I broke up with my bank

17 April 2015
I go on about materials like plastic and its waste of resources. I also preach that voting with your wallet is just as important as going to a polling booth or rally. But what about my money that I put into my bank and superannuation fund – it is being wasteful too?

Turns out it is.

Divestment. Divesting. These two words have been creating ripples over the last year and for good reason. And I am about to get in on the movement.

There has been a rallying cry over the last four years from students at various universities around Australia and the world asking for their institutions to invest in companies that support a sustainable future and divest from those that harm.

More recently I have heard the term divestment used to describe the process of moving your own personal money from a bank that invests in non-sustainable industries and invest in those that do.

So I have decided to divest!

Or to put it more plainly I am taking my money out of my bank and super fund, giving it to institutions that believe in for example renewable energy, among others, to be a kinder investment. Right now I am currently with one of Australia’s big banks and am in the process of switching. Same with my Super.

My belief is that solar and wind power to be noble alternatives for much of our energy creation today. It does have its side effects on the planet throughout its life cycle, but right now it is not as harmful as the large scale fossil fuel consumption we have going on right now.

By switching my funds to a bank and superannuation firm who believe investing in companies that not only see renewable energy but also ethical practices as the way forward, I will inevitably provide funds that will also see the continued development of recycled green-energy technology solutions too.

For example if I was to move my superannuation to Australian Ethical they would take my money and in turn invest into companies like First Solar who believe in responsible product life cycle and making sure solar panels at the end of their life won’t be lost to landfill. This is an example of how divesting and reinvesting my funds will impact for hopefully the better.

Recycling still has a looooong way to go, especially in the renewable energy sector. Solar and wind energy will only be a truly sustainable choice when it proves itself to be a circular process and not linear. Right now I am happy to let my new bank and super fund help solve these problems because as the renewable sector grows in demand and consumption then we need the environmental impacts addressed with solutions sooner rather than later.

So how do I find out what and who my bank supports?

People are divesting for reasons beyond fossil fuels. There are many financial institutions that don’t support fossil fuels, gambling, tobacco and poor labour standards to list a few.

Marketforces.org.au allows Australians to suss out who banks support in terms of investments. It is simple and easy to use. There is even a function to send a note to the banks that do invest in fossil fuels to think differently.

What about Superannuation?

Superswitch.org.au is a great resource on Superannuation funds and their investments in Australia.

Why I broke up with my bank

Because this is an Australian based blog I am focusing on Australian banks. If you are from other countries and would like me to add a similar website to this blog post please leave me a comment below.

I might be only one person with a tiny amount of funds, and my decision might seem pointless to others. It’s true I am not a big institution with millions and billions of dollars. My divestment will be a chore as I switch banks and super funds. My decision won’t whip the evening news into a frenzy. My day to day spending on groceries and other items is consciously made because I want my consumer choices to create no too little impact on the planet and other people… So why should I let someone else spend my money on things that I don’t agree with?! After all, my bank makes money off me as does my superannuation fund through investments from my money.

I will leave you with this saying…

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.

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