Our next step is to open a bank account, and then we can apply to register Field of Merit with the Charity Commission. As with the decision about which legal structure to adopt, we have been thinking carefully about whom we wish to bank with. Yes, we want a bank that will provide as with a reasonable service, but how will they do that? What kind of business practices will we effectively be supporting by giving them our business?
For us, the Co-operative Bank looks like the best choice for a charity current account. As they say on their website: “Acting responsibly, honestly and with integrity is a key part of our tradition as a co-operative society.” The co-operative movement has a long and respected history and we are happy to be associated with it.
We will also be looking for a suitable charity deposit account. This is a more complex decision and if anyone has any knowledge or recommendations in this area we’d be glad to hear from you.
Being an ethical consumer is a natural part of our practice as Buddhists, so much so that it can seem a little odd to even put it in such terms. We know that our actions have consequences. How we spend our money has its effect in the world. Much has been written on this subject, and spending our money responsibly can seem like an impossible task; sometimes we can know that an item we purchase has been produced in a way that causes the least harm to people and planet, but much of the time we have no idea. So what can we do?
Let me tell you the story of the “thirteenth pair of jeans”. Some years back I was on a train and sitting near a group of young women who were going shopping together. It was at a time when a particular high-street clothing store was in the news for allegedly using child labour. The young women were talking about what they wanted to buy, and one of them said to her friends “Don’t let me buy any more jeans! I love jeans and I already have twelve pairs, don’t let me buy any more!”
How many pairs of jeans is enough? For her, twelve was enough. Did she buy the thirteenth pair? I wonder. Anyway, it struck me then that although we can’t always know if others, such as clothing manufacturers, are acting from greed and delusion, we can become more aware of whether we are, and that is where we can definitely make the difference.