We have heard about clean energy and clean eating, but clean money seems to be new to the scene and we have asked Yumi Stynes to help us figure out exactly what it is. She recently worked on a mini documentary series in partnership with SBS and Bank Australia to explore what clean money is and what we can all do to be part of the clean money movement. We asked her to tell us a bit about what she had learnt along the way.
By
Yumi Stynes

14 Jun 2019 - 4:38 PM  UPDATED 18 Jun 2019 - 9:06 AM
I'm struck by what a period of flux we're in right now. 
 
A couple of years ago, people could not have imagined taking their own shopping bags to the supermarket and reusing them, let alone bringing their own coffee cup when they’re grabbing a takeaway coffee.  It would’ve seemed ludicrous!
 
And yet – here we all are.
 
It’s been fascinating to watch behaviours which seemed utterly entrenched get uprooted and replaced - and the whole process isn’t a painful upheaval but actually kinda streamlined and driven by common sense.
 
In the interests of being a better environmentalist, I made a pact with myself that if I was out and about and wanted a takeaway coffee, I only got one if I remembered my keep cup.  It’s a rule, and I stick by it.  This means I rarely forget my cup and on the days I do – no coffee!  Pretty straightforward.
 
It’s a small thing to do, but it’s something I have complete control over, so I can nail it.
 
Change is happening all around us and I predict that within the next two years, taking empty shampoo and milk bottles to the shops to be refilled will be as common as using paper recycling. Again, this is small, but it’s something I know on a personal level, I’ll be able to nail.
 
While it does take real effort to move on from a default position, not only is change happening, change is happening right before our eyes. Consumer activism is becoming a delightful - and a real - way that regular people like me can flex our power.
 
My own ideas around banking and being a money person are starting to evolve too. 
 
Shooting the documentary ‘Clean Money’ for SBS, many of the regular Australians I interviewed didn’t know what their bank did with their money.  Many people imagined their money just sitting there – like treasure under a dragon. 
 
Those who seemed to know the most about how the banking system works had the least faith that the big banks would make ethical investment choices, and it’s almost like they didn’t want to know. 
 
I interviewed a guy whose job it is to know, Simon O’Connor, from the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia, who basically outlined that it is not uncommon for local big banks to invest money to companies involved in  nuclear weapons manufacturing.  (If you want to know if your bank invests in weapons, go to dontbankonthebomb.com/2018_who-invests - and be ready to be shocked.)
 
 
 
O’Connor, like me, has children, and would quite like them to have the opportunity to grow up in a world that is not a smouldering ruin.
 
 
In fact, every single person I interviewed considered the climate crisis to be a very real challenge facing every Australian, and yet not one could say whether or not their bank invested in fossil fuels.  (Check to see if yours does here: marketforces.org.au )
 
Besides thinking about how to earn more money and how to spend it, I have rarely thought much about money because it seemed boring and unsexy. But if the bank that manages my home loan uses my money to invest in weapons manufacturing, or poker machines, well - - that actually makes me sick.
 
So hang on, is that what’s going on?While I’m over here, furiously busy teaching my kids to be better citizens, reducing our plastic consumption and recycling like crazy, while my BANK is investing in nukes and fossil fuels? 
 
F*ck that! 
 
Yes, stashing a coffee cup in my handbag is small thing to do, but I can do something bigger. Because a little, insignificant person like me DOES have power to flex when it comes to banking.
 
Clean energy is a real and viable option – a growth industry, not to mention a cool idea… and as I discovered in shooting this doco, there is also such a thing as “clean money”. Money that doesn’t have the taint of global environmental destruction and war.
 
There are alternatives to the big banks. Ethical banking is not only an idea that's catching on, but a real and available option. We are less powerless that than we think.
 

Does your bank align with your values? To join the clean money movement, go to bankaust.com.au/cleanmoney