What do Earth Day and banking have in common? A lot more than you might imagine.
Technology has had a transformational impact on banking. From e-statements to mobile phone apps, people are discovering the paperless way to conduct their financial transactions. That translates into millions of trees being spared the ax, and a drastic reduction in costs associated with creating paper trails, from electricity to printing supplies to landfill disposal fees.
And that ultimately translates into less stress on the planet and its resources. When Earth Day made its debut in 1970, banking was one of several industries that was tethered to the paper world. Who at that time could have imagined reviewing their bank statements on a computer or portable phone?
Fast forward nearly half a century later, and electronic banking has surged to the forefront. This Earth Day, millions of people won’t give it a second thought to see what their checking account balance is or to take out a loan, all with just a few quick clicks.
Today, financial institutions strongly encourage their customers to go paperless, often enticing them with cash rewards or other incentives for making the switch. And it’s so much easier and convenient to access your bank accounts, rather than wait to receive statements via “snail mail.”
And just try to take away the electronic conveniences that people are now accustomed to! Things like bill pay, remote deposit of checks, and transferring funds from one bank to another are becoming the new norm, and all without having to touch a single piece of paper.
It’s probably a safe bet that even forward thinkers like Gaylord Nelson and John McConnell, who are given credit for founding Earth Day independent of each other, probably didn’t envision the technological revolution’s impact on the planet.
Nelson, who was a U.S. Senator at the time, believed society needed to be educated about protecting the environment. With that in mind, he chose April 22, 1970, to launch Earth Day in the United States.
A year earlier, however, McConnell, a newspaper publisher and influential community activist, proposed the idea of a global holiday called Earth Day at a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conference on the environment. He called for an annual observance as a reminder to people that they share responsibility as environmental stewards. A year later, on March 21, 1970, an internationally recognized Earth Day was celebrated.
Whether the day is recognized in March or April, Earth Day has an impact felt around the globe. Millions participate in earth-friendly activities and events, such as planting trees and cleaning up parks and roadsides.