2020 was a historic year for our climate. We saw record-breaking temperatures, raging fires and heat waves, and more unpredictable weather patterns. Alternatively, it was a historic year for climate-related topics to be discussed and addressed more than ever before. We saw the topic of climate change pop up during political debates for the first time ever. We watched climate take over more headlines and appear in more news articles. And we witnessed millions of people participate in protests, virtual conferences, livestreams, volunteer opportunities, and countless other individual actions all over the world to bring the climate crisis to the forefront of conversations.
In 2020 we learned of Aspiration, an online financial service that is committed to sustainability as they continue to grow. They’re a certified B Corporation and part of the 1% For The Planet coalition which is unheard of in the banking world. Major banks continue to use your money to invest in fossil fuels, tobacco industry, private prisons, and other environmentally and ethically degrading projects. Aspiration promises zero investment in fossil fuel-related schemes and unethical/unsustainable practices. Check out their dreamy list of qualities below and see how your current bank stacks up.
Accountability and Giving Back
As part of 1% For The Planet Aspiration gives back through their “Dimes Worth of Difference” commitment. They’re committed to donating 10 cents of every dollar of their earnings to charitable activities that provide true support to various causes. These causes are revolved around education, health, human rights, the environment, clean and accessible water, poverty aid, etc. Credible non-profits and organizations help promote responsible and accountable impacts. Aspiration is a also a certified B Corp. This means they’re required to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. This performance is verified by a third party to hold them accountable. B Corporations provide transparency and are a business model that sits on a foundation to balance purpose and profit.
Once again Aspiration leads the pack with their use of recycled ocean plastic for their physical bank cards. Their minimal marketing/account pamphlets are also made with recyclable material made from post-consumer recycled material. They also don’t send you piles of unnecessary spam mail! With your Aspiration account you also get a virtual card with a separate card number to easily make purchases online. This comes in handy if you’ve lost or forgotten your physical card. This is also helpful for those who like to keep their web purchases and IRL purchases separate for tracking. Although it should be noted that the transactions all comes out of the same account.
Plant Your Change
Planting trees is a bandwagon that many businesses have hopped on in order to appeal to younger generations or climate-enthusiasts. Too often this gimmick doesn’t come with much evidence of the companies actually investing in reducing their emissions, waste, or labor practices and is a greenwashing technique. Aspiration’s Plant Your Change movement gives you the option to round up your purchases to plant trees with the change. As if planting trees wasn’t cool enough, you also get rewards for hitting milestones of how many trees you’ve planted. This goes from $5 for 30 trees planted, all the way to $500 for 5,000 trees planted.
They are working with reforestation partners who are leading the charge such as the Arbor Day Foundation and Eden Reforestation Projects. Plant Your Change is cool because you don’t even need an Aspiration account to participate in Plant Your Change. You can link up ANY of your credit or debit cards, set a cap/max amount of trees to plant per week or pause your rounding,. This makes it so you have total control over your funds. Aspiration tracks the number of trees you plant and as of December 2020 they celebrated 3 million trees planted (eliminating over 72,000 tons of excess CO2 in our atmosphere/year) through the #PlantYourChange movement.
Feel guilty about filling up at the gas station, but can’t afford a fancy electric car? Aspiration automatically offsets your gas purchases every time you swipe your card at the pump. Carbon-neutral driving is made possible by tracking your gas station purchases which they compare to the national average gas price to estimate how many gallons of gas you bought. They use data from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to calculate CO2 emitted from each gallon of gas and purchase carbon offsets on your behalf! All of Aspiration’s “Planet Protection” features go through a hearty verification process. Organizations such as Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard, American Carbon Registry, Climate Action Reserve, and additional independent auditors are continuously able to monitor and verify Aspiration’s efforts. AKA accountability.
If you already shop consciously and try to support companies who are helping to build a better world through their business models, then Aspiration checks off another box for you. In the mobile app your AIM (Aspiration Impact Measurement) score will show your impact on people and planet based on your daily shopping choices. There are thousands of AIM-rated companies that will appear with a score when you make a purchase.
Each month you’ll get an AIM score averaging your scored purchases so you can compare your spending. As part of their Conscience Coalition Aspiration gives you extra 3% – 10% cash back (depending on your account level) when you make purchases at businesses on the growing list. The list currently features vendors like Dropps, Causebox, Girlfriend Collective, Warby Parker, TOMS, Reformation, LOLA, Goodwings, FEED Projects, United By Blue, Soapbox, Blue Apron, Burst, Arcadia Power, Parachute, Miir, and Known Supply. This is a list in progress, so hopefully we’ll see more great businesses on there soon.
Sustainable Banking For All
Aspiration seems to have the best interest of the working class in mind. Unlike many banks, they aren’t in business to nickel and dime you with predatory overdraft, enrollment, annual, transfer, and ATM fees. You literally get to choose to pay them what you think is fair. They have partnered with companies like Postmates to give delivery drivers $75 for signing up for an account. Their mission is to help get America’s essential workers the sustainable financial benefits they deserve.
If you thought the pros list couldn’t get any longer, you’re in for a final treat. With Aspiration’s mobile banking you also get great optional opportunities to invest in 100% fossil fuel free funds that are professionally managed. When you invest with their Redwood Fund you can feel assured that they are sourcing companies who have smart, sustainable, and ethical practices in mind for the long haul. Traditional IRA’s through Aspiration’s sustainable vetted Redwood investing Fund make saving for retirement accessible as well. They make sustainable investing accessible for everyone with a minimum of only $10 to start your journey, so you get to save for your future and save the planet at the same time.
Join the financial firm built for the planet! Divest from big banks and sign up with our link, and you’ll get $50 when you start using an Aspiration Spend & Save Account. Or if you want to look at other eco-friendly banks, mighty banks has a great list environmentally friendly banks.