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.'