ethical banking

This post was originally written for the ecoetsy team blog, and is saved over here for my reference.

I’m going to pick up where I left off a couple weeks ago with the Occupy Wall St posting, add a primer on the shenanigans the major banks have perpetrated, and show some alternatives to the system that has hurt and angered so many people. Please note: these are my views and do not necessarily represent EcoEtsy as a whole.
So Occupy Wall St has finally grown into something the mainstream news has to acknowledge. People from all across America are speaking up and speaking out and searching for ways to move forward. One of the things that people are focusing on is the role of the major banks in the crisis. Part of that is how banks have treated the little guy, and there is special anger directed at a new fee that many large banks are now charging customers to use their debit cards.
While some politicians have attempted to turn this into a left vs right issue, don’t be fooled. For an explanation of the truth behind the fee, you can check out this video by the senator who’s been blamed for it.

If you are as disgusted as I am by the nonsense many of the major banks have been involved with, from unfair and possibly illegal foreclosures, you DO have options.

First, there are credit unions. from WIkipedia:

A credit union is a cooperative financial institution that is owned and controlled by its members and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at competitive rates, and providing other financial services to its members.[1][2][3] Many credit unions exist to further community development[4] or sustainable international development on a local level.

Credit unions are sometimes organized around a specific working group, like teachers, or people who live in a specific geographic area. They tend to have much more community friendly practices because they have to actually answer to the people giving them their money (you!). To search for a credit union in your area, try this website: creditunion.coop

If you are looking for an investment or savings option which doesn’t involve a bank, you can do triple the good by checking out organizations such as KIVA.org which allow you to lend money to individuals and small businesses across the globe, specifically in areas underserved by traditional banks. Check out this video for more:

You can also look into “green” retirement funds such as yesinvesting.com or greeninvestment.com

Last but not least, you can remove yourself from a system which requires banking, by fully investing and participating in your local economy. Many communities have barter systems set up, including but not limited to Freecycle and BarterQuest. You can also invest time or money in community supported agriculture to put food on your family’s table.

There are many ways to fight back and regain control of your money. I’ve merely listed a few. In fact, there’s a whole movement dedicated to showing you options and giving you the tools to move your money. National Bank Transfer Day is set for November 5th.
Beyond that, what creative ways have you found to make sure your money is going to something you believe in? Let’s get this conversation moving!

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