Eco Knowledge

Ethical and Sustainable Investment Options

Making your money work hard for you and the planet

A quick couple of disclaimers before we dive in: I am not a qualified financial advisor, but I am someone who wants to make my money go as far as possible, without harming the planet. A couple of these links are my referral links from banks that I personally use. Although I’ll benefit if you use my link, the bank is not paying me to use it. Those links are denoted with an asterisk.

I also wrote a separate blog post about sustainable bank options in the U.S. – Go check that out!

What makes an investment ethical?

Obviously this is entirely subjective, but when looking at an ethical investment, I look at what that financial institution will use my money to pay for. Anytime you put your money in a bank, you’re essentially giving them a loan to do with as they please until you need to access it.

For that reason, I look for a bank who will not use my money for fossil fuels (oil, coal, etc), and ideally won’t use it to find tobacco or weapons, either. I want them to have rules around what they do and don’t invest in, and I look to see if they’re transparent about those rules so that I can access them as a consumer.

Wall Street isn’t typically associated with a strong moral compass, but that doesn’t mean that the only option that is good for the planet is to bury it in your back yard like Ron Swanson. Socially responsible investing is getting more and more popular, so it’s getting easier and easier to do!

Why should I switch to ethical investments?

Since the Paris Climate Agreement, 60 banks have funneled $3.8 trillion into fossil fuel investments. YIKES!

That money doesn’t come out of thin air, they’re banks, and they’re investing the money that people give them. When I found this out I was so upset at the idea that my hard earned money could be directly competing with my personal mission to help prevent climate change, and I moved all my money and investments.

The three banks that did the most fossil fuel financing in 2020, according to a report, were JPMorgan Chase at $51.3 billion; Citi at $48.4 billion; and Bank of America with $42.1 billion. All of those banks offer investment options, too, which is a big time bummer.

So now, with literal oceans on fire, it feels like a good time to make sure you’re not inadvertently paying for oil pipelines.

What are some ethical investment options?

These are some options that I either use, or plan to use in the future. If you’re not in a place that allows you to budget right now, consider starting a savings account with Amalgamated Bank (my bank, I love it) instead.

  • Aspiration Redwood Fund* – The Aspiration Redwood Fund uses a rigorous analysis of companies’ sustainable environmental, workplace, and governance practices to find investments we believe are poised for growth. Our goal is to help you build value and honor your values – all at the same time.
  • Amalgamated Bank Socially Responsible Investing – By investing with Amalgamated Bank, you can invest in a portfolio that assures you you’re divesting from tobacco, fossil fuels, and more, while giving back and supporting key initiatives like gender equity.
  • Robinhood* – Individual Stocks – You can become a part owner in a company whose values you support. Consider purchasing stock in major vegan brands, solar power companies, electric vehicle operators, or more. Sign up using my link, and we’ll both get a free stock!
  • Humankind – Stock ETF – Through its utilization of a “Humankind Value,” the Index is designed to help investors align their portfolio in a manner that accounts for the economic impact of their portfolio on humankind.
  • Vanguard ESG Stock Funds – ESG Funds consider the environmental, social, and governance factors of their investments. They’re a great way to put the money aside and let someone else manage them!

There are plenty others that you can find out there, but I chose this list because of their transparency! A lot of “sustainable” funds will invest in big businesses like Amazon, so I’m just cautious with where I put my dollars.

Hope this is useful to those of you who are trying to adult!

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