Stick your green thumb in your pocketbook

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In most cases, corporate by-laws include a mandate requiring businesses of all types to maximize profit but boardrooms also have the choice between socially and environmentally responsible investments and the status quo. As an alternative to most current but unsustainable practices, professionals say that green investing does offer consumers a means to vote for change. Tune in to find out how this is a chance for people to support the kind of world they believe in.

Listen to a Good Dirt Radio 5-minute eco-spot on ecovestment.

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Read the transcript below.

Welcome to Good Dirt Radio, reporting on positive solutions… taking root.

In most cases, corporate by-laws include a mandate requiring business practices that maximize profit but boardrooms also have the choice between socially and environmentally responsible investments and the status quo.  As an alternative to most current but unsustainable practices, professionals say that green investing does offer consumers a means to vote for change a chance to support the kind of world they believe in.

A common position is that so-called ‘green’ investments don’t make as much money.   However, an increasing number of companies now employing sustainable practices with a payback, stand to rise as fossil fuels become more expensive due to market volatility and CO2 emissions. The more that people invest in sustainably oriented businesses, the more success these companies can have, which in turn can send a positive ripple effect across the culture.

Jan Bryan from Prescott, AZ, is a Certified Financial Planner and sustainability activist who specializes in helping people find investments based on long-term energy and money-saving strategies.  She lays out the basics.

Bryan:  I would say that sustainable investing, also known as socially responsible investing or green investing is factoring in what the companies you own are doing operationally.  Are their operations environmentally friendly, the social impact, either positive or negative, and the impact of corporations on the local communities. And, also, how the corporations are governed.  In the last several years, starting with Enron and moving forward to some of these Wall Street firms, we’ve seen companies that are not run in a responsible manner by the upper management.

Bryan offers some green consumer tips that relate to investment choices.

Bryan:  Well its really important for consumers to vote with their dollars and view each purchase through the lens of how sustainable is this product.  Number one, do I really need it, is there something else I can use that’s greener that I already have, that I don’t need to go buy something new and where did this product come from.  Can I trust the company that’s making it.  So, vet the products. Taking that idea the next step is to also, looking at your investment portfolio through the same lens and saying do I want to own a company that has slave labor operations in Africa, or sweat shop operations in Asia or their carbon footprint is way to high.  Do I really want to own a company that isn’t being responsible?

Paul Lemon, a CPA and financial planner in Southwestern Colorado, approaches investment theory holistically and often advises people to make eco investments with a quarter, or more, of their portfolios.  He says a web search can yield several funds offering diversified, environmentally conscious opportunities… poised to offer a good return.

Lemon:  The shift is happening and so if you want to choose a sector that’s really got some growth potential, it’s going to be clean energy because we’re right on the verge of the government regulating carbon emissions and all of these different things, not only in the US, but worldwide.  Inherently, we all want to leave the world a little bit better than we found it. When you’re investing with your values, you actually have the opportunity to put your money where your mouth is. 

Bryan says profitable companies striving for sustainability definitely exist and that citizens who want to use the power of their investment dollars can find proof at greenamerica.org and sristudies.org.

Bryan:  I think that people don’t realize the power that they have with their dollars whether they be consumer dollars or investment dollars. When you own companies in sustainable investments, you have the power of that community also lobbying those corporations to green up their operations, to be more sustainable, treat the communities better and to govern themselves better.    Americans absolutely give away their power by not aligning their investments with their values.  If you go to visit your investment adviser, and you request investments that are in accordance with your values, and your investment adviser tells you that you can’t make any money in those investments, it is a myth and I recommend you run for the door.

Lemon:  One great spiritual teacher has said that where your treasure is, that’s where your heart will be also. So, move your money first and your heart will follow.

For more information about investing in companies that are leading the way toward a more sustainable economy, please visit our website at gooddirtradio.org.

When enough people vote with their dollars, through educated spending, a loud message is sent to corporations and producers… in a form they understand … the language of money.