By Tess Korinko
How can I save money? How can I better my credit score? How can I avoid the annoying ATM fees? All of these questions are the typical thoughts that cross one’s mind when it comes to banking. It makes sense, who wouldn’t think of those things? But, something that should make an appearance in the laundry list of concerns when the banking industry is mentioned is the environment. Yes, the environment.
You may be asking yourself, why the environment? Well, the banking industry is negatively affecting our Earth each and every day. Now you may be thinking, how can the banking industry harm the environment if I only own one or two banking cards and withdraw a handful of cash at a time? Well, you may only own one or two cards and a handful of cash, but so does everyone else. As of October 2017, 98.5 million plastic debit cards were in use throughout the UK alone. The holding of a debit card has increased by 45% since 2016 and a whopping 96% of the UK population is accountable for owning a debit card, the equivalent to almost 51 million adults. This does not even include the 60% of the UK population that additionally own a plastic credit card, an additional 32 million adults.
So what? It’s just plastic, right? Just plastic is damaging our Earth. Currently, there is more than 8 million tons of plastic entering the sea each year. It has gotten to the point where there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish in just the next 30 years. It is evident that the plastic in the ocean harms the marine life and kills off sea creatures, but it also negatively affects humans. For example, approximately 8.5 million kilograms of fish and seafood are consumed by UK adults alone. A portion of this fish that is consumed by humans contains plastic degrades and chemical toxins that we put into our bodies. We have nobody to blame for this besides ourselves.
It has taken too long, but finally the world is no longer blind to this terrible situation and is trying to make improvements. Focusing on the banking industry solely, digital-only banking has been introduced and companies such as Revolut and Monzo offer virtual banking cards where no plastic is needed to produce a card that can potentially end up in the sea. Although they have this option, the companies still distribute physical plastic cards because the virtual cards do not have the contactless payment features. Apple Pay, where “Cashless Made Effortless” is the motto, requires no physical cash nor card to make a payment. All you need to do is hold your iPhone up to the contactless reader, input your touch ID fingerprint, and the payment is made. Quick, cashless, and card free. Green banking, where environmental-friendly practices and carbon reducing activities are promoted, looks like the next big thing.
With new technological improvements and biodegradable materials available, why resort to traditional plastic banking cards? Why mail a bill when it can be sent, received, and paid virtually? Why pollute the air to drive to a physical branch when the same procedure upon arrival can be completed online? Not only is this the more environmental-friendly way to do it, it is also quicker and more convenient for the consumer. By taking easy steps to prevent the amount of plastic produced and wasted, we can all live in a healthier, more sustainable environment. With such an array of improvements green banking is making to the environment, it is clear that it pays to be green.
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