This guest blog was written and photographed by Laura Oldanie. Follow her on Instagram and TikTok.
As a green living and money coach, I frequently encounter others concerned about social justice and the environment who view money only as part of the problem. However, that’s not the whole story. Here are ten ways you can leverage your dollars to push for the change you want to see in the world.
1) Not spending money sends a strong message. Find ways to reduce your consumption and engage in the moneyless economy through things like time-banking, mutual aid groups, or dumpster diving. The experiences are often richer, the connections deeper, and the environmental impact of your actions far less. Plus, the more you can meet your needs without money, the more resilient you are.
2) When you do spend money prioritize local, BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ+ owned businesses whenever feasible. Check in with yourself regularly to make sure your spending reflects your values and life goals – does your spending represent where you want to be going?
3) One of the easiest and most impactful things you can do with your money is to break up with mega banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America that are using depositors’ money to fund new fossil fuels projects. How about opening an account with the Native American Bank instead so your money can be used to fund mortgages and small business loans in their communities? Check out Mighty Deposits or the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GAVB) to find more ethical banks.
4) Find ways to earn income through right livelihood, a Buddhist concept that encourages us to make money in ways that do not cause harm or compromise our ethics. Since 1980, a Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, has been bestowed annually to “honour and support courageous people solving global problems.”
5) There’s a tremendous amount of greenwashing in socially responsible and ESG investing. Some well informed voices are even pointing out that it may not be very effective. As a result, more people are turning their attention to shareholder activism and voting their shares. If you own stocks, even if it’s through mutual funds, organizations like As You Sow can help you flex your shareholder muscle.
6) We need to move beyond “sustainable” (which means sustaining or maintaining where we are) to “regenerative” so that we are restoring and renewing our depleted planet and its people. When it comes to your money, transitioning towards a regenerative economy involves directing your money off Wall Street and investing it in the solutions through platforms like Small Change and Raise Green.
7) The majority of Americans hold a large portion of their wealth in their retirement accounts, which limit them to investing in the stock market as well as other extractive and harmful assets. Self directed retirement accounts, on the other hand, are a little-known investing vehicle you can harness to start diverting your retirement savings to some of these regenerative solutions.
8) If you prefer to consult a professional, seek out socially conscious financial advisors like Angela Barbash and her team at Revalue, a Certified B Corporation and the first investment firm in the U.S. to have an employee-ownership model.
9) Connect with and learn from like-minded people who are also interested in stewarding their money in ways that lead to a more just, equitable, and greener future. If you are on Facebook, check out the Socially Conscious FIRE (financial independence, retire early) group. To interact with people exploring how to use their self directed retirement accounts to evolve a more regenerative future, look into The Next Egg. And of course you can always join or start a local time bank.
10) Don’t forget about legacy planning. If you have assets, think about how you want to disseminate them during and after your lifetime. Donor advised funds (DAFs) are rapidly gaining in popularity, but if not administered properly can end up having negative impacts. Look into land trusts, land easements, and other options for protecting land (even a small urban lot) from development or consider rematriating it to local Indigenous populations.
Please note – Laura is NOT a financial advisor. She is sharing what she has learned on her own socially conscious money journey for educational and informational purposes only.
Find Laura at Rich & Resilient Living and on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok