The phone rang. On the other end was a credit union colleague I’d never met, from a small town in Oregon. She was eager to speak with us-she’d heard that we were one of the foremost leaders of the green movement in the nation among credit unions, and she wanted some tips.
I laughed…out loud. I mean, sure, we’d offered token eco-friendly incentives to our members. But it’d just been another marketing tactic. And we had received some industry-wide press for a recent solar panel addition to our roof. But a leader in the green banking movement?
That’s when it clicked. Why not? For some of our managers and employees, living in an environmentally-responsible manner was nothing new. So why not become mindful of every decision we made as an organization? Why not set the example for other financial institutions? And so, for our Boulder Valley Credit Union, operating sustainably in big and little ways became who we are, and how we chose to do business. It’s no longer about marketing-it’s simply the right thing to do.
Two weeks after that phone call, we changed everything. It wasn’t about what was cheaper in the short-term, but what was sustainable long-term. We made plans to add additional solar panels to our main branch location, as well as panels at our other branches the following year. We forged partnerships with Eco-Cycle.org and several eco-friendly charities and businesses. We bought eco-friendly office supplies, and committed to printing 100% of our marketing materials on recycled paper, using soy- or corn-based inks.
We’ve committed to giving every new member that signs up at B.V.C.U. an energy-efficient light bulb. It’s our free toaster. If every household in America changed out one old-school incandescent light bulb with one Compact Fluorescent light bulb [C.F.L.], it would be equal to taking 800,000 cars off the road.
When we received certification from Partners for a Clean Environment, the P.A.C.E. representative’s response was telling: “Finally…a financial institution goes green!” Our staff is proud to be the first P.A.C.E. certified bank or credit union in our neck of the woods.
But this is only part of the story. The tip of the melting iceberg, if you will. As we educate and are educated, we grow more mindful, making improvements every day. Even the toilet paper has been switched out. All of this for the greater good. Oh…and there is one other small reason.
The next time the phone rings and an unknown colleague is on the other end, I don’t want to laugh out loud this time. Beaming with green pride suits me much better.
Jason Bauer is V.P. of Marketing at Boulder Valley Credit Union, which incorporates eco-conscious practices into their day-to-day operations. For more: wecarecolorado.com or bvcu.org. Until March 21st, visit any B.V.C.U. branch and ask to join through ele, and you’ll receive an eco ele/B.V.C.U. tee-shirt-as well as your free C.F.L.