Those who are environmentally-conscious can take many steps to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, but to take the phrase “vote with your dollar” in a more literal sense, there is a bank where you can do just that.
Recently, I had a chance to talk with George Caraballo, Vice President and Branch Manager at GreenChoice Bank.
GreenChoice Bank is located in the recently renovated Green Exchange building at 2545 W. Diversey. “It was abandoned for a few years actually, and they were talking about tearing it down.” However, rather than tearing it down, it was turned into one of the most sustainably built buildings in Chicago, certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum standards, which is the highest standard in green construction.
“Chicago is one of the leading cities across America for green jobs and green technology and we need to keep that momentum going,” said George.
The momentum continues in nearly every aspect of the bank. Lit by mostly natural light, and equipped with sensors and thermostats throughout the building to avoid wasting energy, almost everything that meets the eye at GreenChoice bank was obtained from recycled or sustainable materials. “We have HVAC heating and cooling, we try to use green and sustainable materials, for example the tile we have is made from crushed glass marble mirrors, the counter you see out there is made of shredded US currency, our debit cards are made from 100% recycled plastic, the carpeting and chairs are made from recycled fiber, and the table here is made from a recycled turkey coop.”
George, who also drives an electric car, incorporates green sustainable living in his everyday lifestyle, “whether it’s a business decision or a personal decision, I try to be conscious about how its going to impact not only the environment but also the people.” The Cicero and Lockport branches of GreenChoice have electric charging stations where some employees, including George, charge their green-friendly vehicles.
One of the things that separates GreenChoice Bank from traditional big banks is their everyday core values, and when you invest your money in GreenChoice, you’re also investing in their values. “We’re a local community-based bank, and the money you put in deposit at GreenChoice Bank is put back into the community and local economy, and not put into some kind of mutual fund or overseas fund. We’re investing the dollars here locally to support the local economy,” said George.
In addition to their sustainable values, it is also cheaper to bank with GreenChoice. They offer many incentives for their customers to stay ‘green’ by giving better interest rates if they practice 4 simple guidelines:
- Get direct deposit to eliminate a paper check
- Use a debit card at least 5 times or more in a month
- Use E-statements vs. paper statements
- Pay bills online
It seems that oftentimes, a sustainable lifestyle is more costly than the conventional alternatives. Whether its the extra dollar or two for an ‘eco-friendly’ product or a higher price for organic produce, the responsible choice is not necessarily the cheaper choice. However, George says that GreenChoice Bank is an exception to the rule. ”If customers do those 4 things, we pay them a higher interest rate, at .75, which is higher than most banks pay in the industry of any checking account.”
Regarding whether GreenChoice Bank will grow and expand in the future, George said, “We’re always looking for room for expansion. We’ve gotten very positive feedback for our brand and we are looking to expand that as opportunities open up in the market.”
Why should somebody join GreenChoice Bank?
“Somebody should join GreenChoice Bank if they want to vote with their dollars. We all talk about how we would like to invest in our community and make a difference in the world, but a lot of people don’t take that step. If you want to support a company that’s Green, sustainable, and reinvesting your money back into the local economy, you should bank with GreenChoice,” George said.
For more information you can visit any of the 3 GreenChoice Bank locations or find them online at greenchoicebank.com
Chicago Green Exchange – 773.799.9400
2545 W. Diversey Ave., #106
Chicago, IL 60647
Cicero – 708.656.0100
5225 W. 25th Street
Cicero, IL 60804
Lockport – 815.834.2300
838 S. State Street
Lockport, IL 60441