Elegance: Bank on it

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What happens when a Marxist anarchist decides to stop bucking the system and change it? Triodos Bank.

By taking the long view of investment, Triodos Bank has built a solid business based around sustainable investments. In addition to investing in sustainable businesses, Triodos must also be a sustainable business. And, nearly 30 years in, it is. Triodos’ funds grew nearly 15 percent in the first half of 2009 with $3.69 billion and rising on its balance sheet.

While our current financial collapse arose from short-term thinking, Triodos is building investments for the future. It only lends to organizations that “create real social, environmental and cultural value,” according to its mission statement.

In fact, reading its mission statement, it doesn’t sound much like a bank at all. Triodos requires each investment to be “a practical and well-grounded initiative dedicated to social aims which benefit the community, care for the environment, respect human freedom and develop individual talents and capacities.”

Where else can you buy Climate Change Bonds? Or keep a Charity Saver savings account that donates to your favorite charity? Too bad it hasn’t made it to the United States yet. A Dutch bank, Triodos has branches in Belgium, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Named “Sustainable Bank of the Year” by the Financial Times, Triodos offers its customers the opportunity to use their money to change the world. It is completely transparent about who it lends to and what they do.

Ethical returns. Now, that’s elegant banking.

About The Author

Sweet connects all the dots of Shannon’s life, combining her passion for the environment and human rights with her love of travel and women. Obsessed with finding a way to make the economics of doing good in the world work, Shannon strives to create a successful and green business run by happy employees for blissed-out guests. It’s her favorite kind of situation—a win-win-win. Recently, Shannon was named one of the “Advocate Magazine’s 40 under 40″, Go Mag‘s “Women We Love” and the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association‘s Travel Innovator of 2010. In her spare time, Shannon enjoys sleeping, hiking, building treasures from trash, chasing her little bear and burning brush. She lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills with her son, Theron aka little bear, and dog, Reggie.

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