Green$ense During Economic Nonsense

Like everybody else in a down economy, Americans are doing whatever they can to stretch what little money they have as far as it will go. So you can imagine how attractive a new offer from Citizens Bank promising customers an additional $120 a year in their checking account sounds; especially when people are being forced to pay higher prices for everything from home heating oil to milk.

Citizens’ Green$ense is designed to encourage customers to transition their checking accounts to a paperless, electronic funds transfer system by offering to “pay” the customer 10 cents every time they use their Green$ense debit card to make a purchase or pay a bill online, up to $120 a year. By eliminating the paper associated with most bill-paying transactions, Citizens Bank hopes to do its part to reduce its impact on the environment. It’s a clever way to help save the planet, especially in these tough economic times when environmental concerns are competing with economic concerns as consumers struggle to make ends meet.


Though not everyone is buying into Green$ense—an AdRants blogger says it will lead to layoffs of bank tellers—Citizens Bank does make an effort to justify the campaign by quantifying the impact of going paperless.  According to the Web site, after one year [] of using Green$ense, consumers could:

  • Save 6.6 pounds of paper
  • Prevent 171 pounds of greenhouse gases
  • Conserve 63 gallons of water
  • Reduce 4.5 gallons of gasoline usage

The Web site also provides a payment impact calculator, green tips and articles and scrolls quick “did-you-knows” across the top of each page to further illustrate the effects of the campaign. For instance, “If just 1 in 10 of our customers switched to Green$ense, that would be the equivalent of taking 5,000 cars off the road.” The program is not perfect—you have to throw away a perfectly good debit card to make room for a new recycled-plastic Green$ense card—but it does offer consumers an easy incentive to keep the environment relevant in a down economy.

- Andrea List, Insights Supervisor


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