With natural disasters and the environmental impacts of pollution flooding news headlines more and more every year, ESG has quickly become a hot topic driving the conversation in our world today. From recycling and picking up litter to reducing carbon emissions, Canadians are more passionate about preserving the future of our planet than ever before – that is where Earth Day comes in.
What is Earth Day?
Each year on April 22nd, we celebrate Earth Day – an international movement focused on encouraging nations around the globe to show their support for the planet and environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, this year marks the 53rd anniversary of the global environmental initiative dedicated to driving meaningful action to preserve the future of our planet. This year’s theme, “Invest in Our Planet,” focuses on engaging governments, institutions, businesses, and citizens worldwide to act against the climate crisis.
Canada’s Credit Unions Are Taking A Stand Against Climate Change
From boardroom discussions with colleagues to conversations over the dinner table with loved ones, climate change is undoubtedly a pressing issue on Canadians’ minds that comes with a broad set of social and environmental consequences. With that, credit unions across the country are implementing sustainable practices and are responding to climate change through various initiatives, such as:
- Reducing paper waste through specific programs
- Adopting climate-related financial risk disclosures
- Offering eco-loans and/or socially responsible investment products
- Reducing IT waste with procurement guidelines and/or equipment optimization processes, and/or by participating in recycling
- Lending to social enterprises or other businesses that have an explicit mission to address social and/or environmental issues
- Maintaining robust waste management programs to divert materials away from landfills
To commemorate Earth Day, we are spotlighting a few ways Canada’s credit unions are integrating sustainability into their everyday business practices and showing their support for our planet.
1. Taking a financial stand against climate change
Credit unions care about their communities and protecting the world we live in. To demonstrate their support for the fight against climate change, in 2023, Kingston Community Credit Union donated $5,000 to the Kingston Climate Action Fund to support three local climate action projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions: Frontenac Club Day Care Integration Programme, Obgwanada, and Sustainable Kingston. With this financial contribution, the credit union illustrated its ongoing commitment to bettering the Kingston community by bringing residents closer to a healthier and climate-friendly standard of living both for today and for years to come.
2. Taking small businesses to the next level – the eco-friendly level
Are you a small business owner who cares about protecting the planet? Canada’s credit unions can help you secure an eco-friendly advantage for your business. In recognition of Earth Month, Meridian Credit Union launched the Eco-Upgrade Project – an initiative aimed at granting eco-upgrades to small business owners looking to make their business more eco-friendly. Whether you are hoping to upgrade the lighting in your business space with energy-efficient LED bulbs or switch to a paperless process for all your business paperwork and receipts, the Eco-Upgrade Project could help you get one step closer to enhancing your business’s sustainability. For businesses applying for the grant, the credit union has committed to giving away over $30,000 to qualifying business owners seeking to apply for eco-upgrades. So, if you’re an environmentally friendly entrepreneur looking to take your business to the next “eco-friendly” level, Meridian’s Eco-Upgrade Project might be a suitable option for you.
3. Opening the doors to affordable housing
With housing prices skyrocketing across the country, many young Canadians are currently facing the financial pressure of trying to keep a roof over their heads. For Vancity, addressing the rising need for affordable housing in B.C. has been an issue close to their hearts. In 2022, the credit union took action to address the affordable housing dilemma facing B.C. residents, by introducing the Non-Profit Housing Retrofit Program. The housing program helps non-profit housing providers improve their energy efficiency, reduce their carbon emissions, and boosts environmental sustainability in B.C,, which helps ensure a cleaner way of living for its tenants. Simply put, if you care about affordable and climatefriendly housing, rest assured Canada’s credit unions do too and they’re paving the way toward a cleaner and more equitable world for all Canadians.
4. Powering the future with green electricity
Credit unions’ roots are firmly planted in communities across Canada. To help reduce their carbon footprint, in 2021 PenFinancial Credit Union partnered with Bullfrog Power to install green electricity across all of its branch locations. This shift in electrical usage not only reduces the credit union’s use of greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on earthpolluting forms of energy, it also reinforces that credit unions are committed to making a tangible effort to protect the environmental future of their communities.
5. Reducing their carbon footprint
Like many Canadians, Canada’s credit unions are committed to reducing their carbon footprint – one sustainable practice at a time. Last year, East Coast Credit Union showcased its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by installing a ground-mount solar system at the credit union’s St. Andrews Branch in Nova Scotia. Built on the land behind the St. Andrews Senior Housing Authority, the solar system was designed to improve the heating efficiency within the community and to make heating more affordable for residents. Their sustainability efforts don’t stop there! Additionally, in 2022 they extended the St. Andrews walking and biking trail to reduce vehicular traffic and promote healthy living for residents in the community. Ultimately, if you care about building a greener and more sustainable future in the community you work and live in, credit unions like East Coast Credit Union are making great strides to make your dreams a reality.
6. Championing financial sustainability with responsible investments
If you are looking for ways to spend your money in a way that aligns with your values, responsible investments might be right for you. Need some guidance on investing responsibly? Canada’s credit unions have you covered. As a certified B-Corp, in May 2021 Libro Credit union showcased their commitment to sustainability by offering responsible investment options for all new mutual fund accounts. By offering this new investment option, Canadians can feel comfortable knowing that when they do business with the credit union, they have the opportunity to make a positive change both on their wallet and the world. Now that’s a win-win!
Show your support for a more climate-friendly future for all Canadians…become a credit union member
If you are looking for a financial institution that cares about helping Canadians prosper financially while also implementing sustainable practices that benefit the environment then look no further, Canada’s credit unions can get you there. Not yet a credit union member? Find your nearest credit union here.