|Socially Responsible Investing |
By Sally Deneen
The Daily Green
You don't need to be Bill Gates or some other big-bucks investor to put your
money where your convictions lie and make a difference in the world. "Socially
responsible investing" can be as simple as choosing to do your day-to-day
banking with a progressive bank (one that supports sustainable development, for
instance) or using a credit union that offers green loans. Some offer
lower-than-usual interest rates for new cars that average at least 25 miles per gallon.
Socially responsible investing is broadly defined as an investment strategy that
takes into account social and environmental standards. It means investing in
companies whose values you share. This can entail picking a financial adviser,
money management firm or stock fund that includes environmentally minded
businesses to manage your 401(k), or investing on your own in mutual funds,
stocks and bonds that have a green mission. For example, you can invest in
companies specializing in solar energy or wind power. But the concept of
socially responsible investing goes beyond that, as well. You can donate
appreciated stock to the charity of your choice and take the market value as a
tax deduction, or name your favorite green organization as a benefactor in your will.
The point is this: You buy organic foods, avoid pesticides in the home, enjoy
vacationing in the mountains and take countless actions to help improve the
world, so why choose a retirement fund that invests in companies whose values
run totally counter to yours? Chances are, your current retirement fund does
(check its prospectus). Perhaps it invests in companies that mine mountains,
manufacture pesticides or use greenhouse-gas-producing coal, among other issues.
The key is to be aware of your dollar power. Put it to work investing in
businesses and causes that you approve of. Shun those you don't. Remember as a
shareholder, even if you only own one share of stock, you can actively influence
a company's policy by attending annual meetings, asking questions and voting on issues.