With the detrimental effects of climate change hot on our heels, advocates are scrambling to make a change before it’s too late. Sustainability has been the buzzword across all industries, spanning food, tech, fashion and more. It’s the reason why plant-based milk and thrift shopping are in.
The same could be said for the financial sectors.Gone are the days when generous rates, quality services and convenience were the sole deal breakers for banking customers.
The policies of the financial institutions we choose to invest in can influence our environment in paramount ways. In fact, 43 banks from 23 countries have pledged their commitment towards adopting sustainable practices under The United Nations’ Net-Zero Banking Alliance earlier this year.
Green finance is also making waves closer to home. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been rolling out long-term initiatives such as the Green Finance Action Plan, a strategy meant to accelerate Singapore’s journey towards becoming a sustainable global financial centre.
Protecting our planet starts with us. Read on for how to make more ethical decisions when dealing with your wealth.
Sustainable finance best practices
1. Support Sustainable Banking
While not all banks have existing sustainable practices, many are eager to make the switch.
Lucky for us, Singapore-based banks like UOB, DBS and OCBC were said to have “outperformed their Asian peers” when it comes to disclosing their credit approval and monitoring processes which have been altered for better environmental outcomes.
These lenders are also putting in the work towards saving our earth. Frank by OCBC, for instance, has been mobilising a diverse range of environmental campaigns such as clean-up dives out on Lazarus Island.
For consumers like us, one way to adopt greener banking habits involves switching to credit and debit cards made of recycled or biodegradable materials. Some Singaporean banks are already extending such offers to customers:
- UOB EVOL card: Formed from incineration-safe Polylactic acid (PLA) and bio-sourced, corn-based matter, this credit card reduces plastic use by 82% and lowers the bank’s carbon footprint by 10 grams per card.
- DBS Live Fresh card: Aimed at encouraging contactless payments, customers who swipe this card can earn 5% cashback on e-payments and an added 5% Green Cashback if they patronise DBS’ eco-friendly merchants. The card is made of 85.5% recycled plastic as well.
Those looking to build their own businesses can also partner with banks which offer tailored programmes that can help set your company down the brighter, greener path. A viable option is HSBC’s sustainability for businesses which includes a personalised net-zero checklist for clients.
2. Go digital whenever possible
Going cashless can significantly cut down the energy and raw materials consumed down the entire currency operations and value chain. The former refers to the production, processing and transportation of physical cash while the latter includes the waste generated from in-house processing and burning of poor quality bank notes.
In an increasingly tech-savvy world, it’s easy to opt for online banking services that use digital PINs and to make purchases with electronic payment alternatives like Apple Pay and PayNow.
On the next festivity, send a cheeky reminder to your loved ones that e-angbaos and e-green packets can be just as meaningful and twice as better for the planet!
3. Change personal habits
Similarly, we can swap out old habits for actions that have a kinder impact on our environment. For instance, when out shopping, bring a reusable bag for your new buys and forgo paper receipts. Even the seemingly trivial task of clearing your emails can expel a weighty amount of carbon dioxide. Guess it’s time to get clicking.
You can also support commercial establishments that are doing their part for Mother Earth by sourcing ethically or donating their proceeds to environmental organisations.
Foodies can look towards brands with cleaner supply chain practices such as the implementation of carbon mitigation strategies. Gelato boutique Birds of Paradise and new oatmilk player Oatside are native F&B businesses backed by green thumbs.
Additionally, by purchasing from such shops, you’re not only contributing towards reclaiming our planet, but also elevating Singaporean entrepreneurs.
On the surface, the operations of large firms and banks don’t seem to have a direct impact on our everyday lives. However, the little choices we make regarding our financial partners and their practices can have cascading positive effects down the line. Hence