I made the switch to Bank Australia in 2016, but I wish I had done it sooner.
You might have heard the story of my epiphany, the one that empowered me to realise I did have the ability to take action to help our Earth. I wasn't a born 'environmental warrior'. I used to be a cosmetics manufacturer, someone who would sit around the dinner table talking about climate change, but not really having a whole lot to say, and definitely not having any idea what to do about it.
That was until one day, I decided to try and get my electricity bill down, and reduce our household energy usage. I did all the things that our 1MW blogs will tell you to do to cut your energy - powerpoints off at the switch, fans instead of aircon, everything. And it worked. Seeing that energy bill that had really dropped, made me realise that I had so much power to make a difference for our planet.
I decided to see what else I could do - I got a worm farm, cut our household food waste, learnt about the problems with fast fashion and stopped buying new and so often. I took action after action, learning every time how effective I could be.
I started 1 Million Women in 2009, and I would always tell women, use your consumer power, every dollar you spend matters. It never occurred to me though, that it's not just about every dollar you spend, it's also about every dollar you invest, or that your bank or superfund lends and invests on your behalf.
It wasn't until four years after that initial epiphany with my electricity bill that I started hearing about divestment through 350.org's campaign, as well as Market Forces ( the website that helps you understand which banks are doing good for the planet). Finally, I got my head around the fact that the money that I thought was just idly 'sitting' in my bank account was actually being lent to the fossil fuel industry.
I immediately switched to Bank Australia. I didn't have to give it a second thought. And now I love, more than anything, knowing that my money is with a bank that has never, and will never invest in fossil fuels. We're now also in the process of transferring our biggest loan - our homeloan over from our old bank to Bank Australia.
The Bank Australia team at 1 Million Women LoveEarth Festival
Being both personally a customer and a 1 Million Women partner of Bank Australia is an absolute joy. If any bank had a heart, it would be Bank Australia, and it's a big one. Being customer owned, Bank Australia don't have any shareholders to answer to, so they don't have to focus on making massive profits. And with the profits that the bank does make, it's the customers who have a say in where that money is invested through the Bank Australia Impact Fund.
This is what has resulted in Bank Australia being Australia's most ethical bank - the bank's customers say that they want the bank to work for our environment and local communities, and so it does. Just this year, Bank Australia became the first Australian bank to purchase and run off 100% renewable electricity. They really walk the talk, and align with my values in more ways than one.
Switching my money to a fossil fuel free bank I've since realised has been one of the most powerful actions I've ever taken - while doubling as one of the easiest. I don't have to remember to do it every day like I need to remember my KeepCup. It was just a case of researching the best alternative, choosing the right option for me and opening an account with them, and then closing my old account and redirecting any direct debits.
To know that my money is with a bank that truly aligns with my values and will never invest in fossil fuels is empowering and its a real and tangible action that makes a difference. Climate change is real and it's affecting us all right now. We have to do all we can wherever we can to be part of the solution.
I'm not a financial advisor, so I can't tell you that Bank Australia is for you - this is just my own experience. But I really encourage you to look into where your bank invests and lends your money, and make sure it aligns with your values. And if it doesn't, research which bank is doing the right thing, and make the switch.