Aligning My Money with my Values

by Kathi White

We are all very fortunate to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest in the 60’s on the East Side of Tacoma.  I remember playing in the forest at a very young age. I would basically get up, eat some cereal, and then run around in the woods with the other kids. We’d stay there until we got hungry, then we’d go home, grab a sandwich and go back out.

When it was summer, we’d make our Mom take us to Wapato Park so we could go lake swimming. We’d run and jump off the dock into the cold, cold lake water. It was so much cleaner then! Now, nobody ever swims there.

Later, as I raised my kids, I tried to give them the same beautiful natural experiences I had. However, the lakes weren’t so clean anymore. We would all have to wear water shoes, because everybody threw beer bottles and shards of glass lurked in the lake bed.  There were just so many more people out there at the lake too.

When social media came along and I got Facebook, I started to become aware of all kinds of environmental issues. The more I learned, the more responsibility I felt to take care of things that we are doing to the planet. I started with recycling. Then I began to change the way I shopped. I think twice before I buy things. Do I really need a new item or is there a way to reuse something I already have?

As I reached my fifties, I decided to pursue a passion I have for whales.  I booked myself a whale watching trip, and with my daughter, we boarded the cruise. The naturalist taught us many about Southern Resident Killer Whales. They are critically endangered. We really may lose them in our lifetime. There are many things affecting them, from a salmon shortage (they are basically starving) to noise pollution, and climate change.  Between 1962 and 1973 at least 263 Killer Whales from Washington and British Colombia were captured or killed and sold to various theme parks, including Sea World. They never really recovered from that. Killer Whales are family oriented and the grandmother leads the pod. All the females stay with her and they can live for over 100 years. There was one named Granny and she passed away recently, she was estimated to be over 105!  Read more about it from Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research.

On the whale cruise, the captain spotted a pod of Bigg’s Orcas! Bigg’s, or Transient Orcas, are the mammal hunters.  There were about seven of them and they were on the hunt! The captain called it a “National Geographic moment”.  On a small island there was a colony of seals. The Orcas cruised silently and quickly in and the seals panicked and screaming loudly, the whole colony ran away from shore. Several Orca got very close to grabbing one by almost breaching the shore.  This went on for a good 20 minutes.  Luckily for the seals, they all got away safely. What an awesome show that was! My daughter and I were totally thrilled and so lucky to be able to see that in real life!

Something happened that day as I watched these beautiful creatures. I became a champion and an activist. I want to do all I can to protect this beautiful natural resource.  I started making some big changes. I started following 350 Tacoma and going to protests and other events.  I even decided I needed to change my bank. I had been using Chase Bank and I found out that they fund the Dakota Access Pipeline and other fossil fuels (see if your bank does too).

I made the decision to take my money out of Chase Bank. It was hard finding information about which banks don’t fund fossil fuels.  I finally found this website which shows a table of banks funding dirty oil projects and how much money they fund.   Then I googled the local banks here and tried to find out as much as possible. I encourage you to find a local credit union as they invest locally.

Here is a website that tells you the step by step process of how to change your bank.  After I read that chart, I see I have more work to do in divesting.  I need to change my credit card and mortgage company too.

Divesting is worth my time because now my banking reflects my values.  I want to do everything I can to help save this planet.