Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Investing in the …?

TO Think About This Week

“To invest” implies ‘the future’. What I do today will benefit my tomorrow and the tomorrow of others.

I’m a big believer in investing, particularly when it comes to retirement, but up until recently I did not know what companies or ventures I was supporting. I really didn’t care. All that mattered to me was that my RRSP was at moderate risk so that my money could grow very well over time.

Then last year my conscious woke up and I started to ask questions.

You can imagine my relief when I learned that my money was going towards one of the most socially responsible funds around. I was thrilled, until I saw the companies I was supporting. The most troubling to me was the Alberta Oil Sands. What in the world was that doing in my “green” portfolio? The reason? It follows so-called environmental guidelines, even though those guidelines hardly touch critical issues such as global warming, water use and animal habitat.

The point of all this? It’s not enough to blindly invest. We should know what we are investing in. I invest to ensure that the little old lady I hopefully will become will be well supported. But how supported will you and I really be when climate change and the end of cheap energy rear their ugly heads, especially if our society has done little to invest in a sustainable economy?

I want to invest in a sustainable future. I can do so through alternative utilities such as Bullfrog Power where my utility dollars go to windmills, solar power and other energy alternatives. But how can my investments, such as RRSPs, support the sustainability movement?

This is an ongoing investigation for me and one that I will return to in the blogs ahead. Any input is greatly appreciated. Here are some sources that may be of use….

Green Investing Resources

There is a myth that ethical funds and sustainable companies are poor performers. Try telling that to Toyota, a world leader in hybrid technology and one of the top performing car companies on the planet. Ok, perhaps a car company is not the best example I can come up with considering that I’ve argued ad nauseam that purchasing a car is one of the worse investments you can make.

I’m going to start focusing on better examples of sustainable companies in my following installments. In the meantime, here are some investment options.

First and foremost….please always know what you are investing in.

Ethical Funds
They got the ball rolling in Canada on this issue, and a great place to start if funding war machines, tobacco and sweatshops horrifies you. Most investment companies will have Socially Responsible Investment funds. Do read up on the companies in your portfolio, particularly their environmental policies and records. Want to know if they’ve been naughty? Corporate Watch can help you with that. Beware greenwashing.

Another site is Pax World Funds.

Investing in Sustainable Companies
Many thanks to Greg Bonser who is with Live Lightly Developments, a Toronto-based development company, for this tip. Greg is fed up with “ethical” and “green” funds because he feels their practices are not truly sustainable. He invests in buildings and companies with which he works.

The following are for those of you who prefer to invest in companies in sync with a sustainable economy:

Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes

Sustainable Asset Management

Green Century Funds


Wind Energy Publicly Traded Companies in the World

Solar Water Heating System Publicly Traded Companies in the World

For a list of publicly traded green companies – just scroll down

Stop Global Warming
More than 523,600 to date have signed up to stop global warming. Join us!

In the News

Green Bloggers


Grist Magazine

Tree Hugger

Alternative Energy Blog

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