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Sierra Magazine
Lay of the Land

Global Warming | Quote Unquote | Bioprospecting | Lead Poisoning | Green Banking


Banking on a Green Economy

Environmentalists now have an opportunity to put their money where their principles are. Founded two years ago in Ilwaco, Washington, Shorebank Pacific assures customers their money will support businesses that use conservation measures to increase profits.

Through its EcoDeposits program (with assets of $11 million), Shorebank Pacific extends credit to companies that reduce waste and pollution, embrace energy efficiency, use sustainable-forestry methods, or invest in resource-saving technology. The bank is a partnership between Shorebank Corporation of Chicago, one of the nation's most successful community-development institutions, and EcoTrust, a conservation group based in Portland, Oregon. Its mission is to build a 'conservation economy' in the Pacific Northwest by helping rural communities move away from resource-depleting industries and supporting businesses that employ displaced loggers, miners, and fishers.

Shorebank Pacific loans, for example, have gone to local oyster growers (whose business requires uncontaminated water) as well as conservation-minded businesses such as The Joinery, a Portland-based furniture manufacturer that uses certified sustainable lumber, and Stormwater Management Inc., another Portland company that uses pellets of composted leaves to remove solids, oils, and heavy metals from stormwater runoff.

Sound like another green marketing ploy? Not so, says Sarah Doll, environmental equity coordinator at the Oregon Environmental Council. While Shorebank benefits borrowers, she says, its main value is 'to show the business community the link between economic vitality and environmentally sound practice.'

For more information, e-mail ecobank@aone.com.

by Linda Baker


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