Clare Coatman

Many or most of us make choices based on ethical concerns every day – whether it’s avoiding brands linked to sweat shops or opting for fairtrade coffee; but we don’t always apply this principle to where we bank and therefore what our money is used for.

A new campaign is launching today: Move Your Money argues that we should acknowledge the impact of our decisions and recognise our own power in changing the banking sector for the better by pledging to move our money away from HSBC, Barclays, RBS, Santander and Lloyds to ethical alternatives.

These banks patently have not learnt from the behaviour that led to the worst recession in living memory. Casino capitalism continues, as do excessive bonuses, while lending to small businesses continues to fall. They have few qualms about making unethical investments in dictators, weapons manufacturers and environmental exploitation across the globe.

Banks continue to fund environmentally destructive projects, feigning ignorance about their role in supporting pollution, soil degradation, climate change, extinctions, and disruption of indigenous peoples’ livelihoods.

Environmental consequences seem irrelevant in the pursuit of profit. Banks often make empty gestures, attempting to ‘greenwash’, but Barclays, RBS and HSBC have recently been named and shamed by the Ecologist for involvement in some of the world’s most environmentally damaging projects, including mega coal fire power stations and open-pit gold mining. In part for their involvement in funding the coal industry, Barclays, RBS, and HSBC all grace the list of top 20 ‘Climate Killer’ banks .

And why would they change their behaviour when they have the implicit ‘too big to fail’ guarantee of our government evidenced by the £500bn UK taxpayers have given over to the banks in the form of bailout and guarantee schemes? Why would they change when the vast majority of people unhappy with their banks still haven’t left?

While our money continues to sit in these banks, we’re providing a cheap source of credit and tacit assent to continue down their destructive path.

Remove your consent to these practices and choose an alternative so you can be confident your money isn’t working for something you would never condone.

There are alternatives who care about people and the planet: credit unions, ethical banks and building societies so learn more about the choice you have and pledge to Move Your Money today.