Beyond Earth Day: Credit Unions Go Green All Year Long

First created in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson to address the lack of regulations surrounding clean water and air pollution, Earth Day is now widely observed all over the world.

Every year on April 22, millions of people across the globe rally together to participate in community clean-up projects, plant trees, draw awareness to environmental causes, advocate for cleaner energy sources, and find more ways to “go green.”

For credit unions, going green doesn’t begin and end with Earth Day; it’s a year-round endeavor supported through thoughtful practices, programs, and initiatives.

Purposeful Lending

Across Washington, many credit unions, including Express, Seattle, Sound, and Verity, offer bicycle and/or electric vehicle loans, encouraging their members and communities to adopt cleaner methods of transportation.

In Portland, one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in Oregon, Point West Credit Union’s bike loans let members borrow up to $5,000 toward a new set of wheels.

“Portland’s biking community continues to grow in wonderful and exciting ways – and so does the need for funding for bicycles and necessary riding accessories,” reads the credit union’s website. “Point West is a proud supporter of biking and other alternative modes of transportation in Portland and beyond. With affordable payments and low rates, riding away on your new bicycle (and all the gear you need to make your bike uniquely yours) is easier than ever.”

OnPoint Community Credit Union’s Green Auto Discount offers 0.25% APR off auto loan rates for new or used electric or hybrid vehicles financed through the credit union. And for every green auto loan approved, OnPoint makes a donation to The Nature Conservancy in Oregon, which aims to bring people together to solve major conservation challenges, such as climate change.

A number of Northwest credit unions, including OnPoint, Verity, Community 1st, and others, also provide loans and discounts for solar panels, and Boise-based CapEd Credit Union helps members make energy efficient upgrades to their homes with its EnergyWise loans.

A Deeper Commitment

In 2017, Verity became one of only 11 financial institutions in the United States to join the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, an independent network of banks and banking cooperatives with a shared mission to use finance to deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental development.

Two years later, along with 27 other members of the Alliance, the credit union pledged to track and monitor the carbon impact of its loans and investments by 2022, to align the carbon footprint of its portfolio with Paris Agreement goals to keep global temperature increases under control.

In addition to its environmentally friendly lending programs, earlier this month OnPoint announced it is taking further steps reduce its carbon footprint through the use of telecommuting programs; environmental education; employee volunteer opportunities; and donations to environmentally-focused organizations, including Eco-School Network, SOLVE Oregon Beach Cleanup, WaterWatch of Oregon, and more.

“The global threat of climate change requires all of us to take action to ensure a sustainable future for our community and the world,” said Rob Stuart, OnPoint President and CEO.

A Day to be Green

For Earth Day this year, Portland-based Trailhead Credit Union is partnering with Forest Park Conservancy to host two volunteer days in Forest Park. They’ll give away fun prizes to members and educate them on easy ways they can effect change in their community.

North Coast Credit Union, headquartered in Bellingham, Washington, is gearing up for its Free Shred Day on April 22, an annual tradition to celebrate Earth Day while helping members recycle old documents and other household items, such as batteries and lightbulbs.

How is your credit union celebrating Earth Day this year? Send us an email sharing your plans and you may be featured in an upcoming edition of Anthem!

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