Ethical Investing: Your Green Money Guide
Ethical investing is a fantastic means of doing something positive for the planet. Follow our expert advice on where to invest your money for a maximum sustainable impact.
Sat 19 May 2018
Whilst ethical investing is a means of supporting causes and organisations that are fighting climate change and social injustice, many of us don’t know exactly where our money is invested.
Unfortunately, lack of transparency and awareness about what our money is being used for often has shocking unethical consequences. It could mean that you are inadvertently supporting something that you would actively fight against in other areas of your life.
Ruby Reed from the Advaya Initiative shares her top tips and tricks on ethical investing. She tells us how we can make our money greener, so that it works for the planet as well as for us.
Green Money Is Green Power
Money is one our greatest inventions and is a cornerstone of modern society, yet commercial interests, unethical practices and hierarchical power structures have come to paint a very different picture.
What Is Ethical Investing?
There are two types of ethical investing and it is important to examine the ethics of both. There are the investments you make with your own personal money and have total authority over.
Then there are the investments that the brands and companies you shop from hold themselves. When you consume from these organisations, you are indirectly supporting whatever they hold investments in.
Both forms of investing have the potential to effect meaningful systematic changes when they are made consciously and ethically.
There is, of course, also the matter of where you store your money. Check out our feature all about green banking for more on this topic.
Why Are So Many Investments Unethical?
Ethical investing is not commonly synonymous with growth and or power, and our society is built upon an ideology of growth at all costs. Growth and money both mean power. Yet, in order to maintain its value, our monetary system is built on scarcity, which empowers some at the expense of the majority.
Most people would never sanction their money being invested in unethical projects that fuel climate change, destroy the rainforest or fund weapons creation. However, due to a lack of transparency, awareness and choice, as well as consumer convenience, this is happening all the time.
How Can We Invest More Ethically?
There are loads of exciting ethical investment opportunities for everyone to take advantage of, particularly when combining these with the government’s new tax-free Innovative Finance ISA’s.
It is always a good idea to do as much of your own research as you can, to make sure you end up investing in causes that matter to you as well as keeping your money secure.
Purposeful Money is a great place to start. This platform offers independent financial advice for socially responsible investing. They are making ethical advice affordable for anyone who wants to integrate values into their investment strategy and offer advice on everything from pensions to ISAs and more.
There are several investment platforms and apps that are leading are making are helping you to put your money where your principles are:
Abundance is a peer-to-peer investment platform. They democratise green infrastructure financing by raising money from ordinary people. You can invest just £5 and earn tax-free returns. In only five years Abundance has raised £66 million to fund 31 green infrastructure projects.
It’s a tempting name, who doesn’t want to be wealthified? This is a transparent investing platform with an ethical bent. Like Abundance, Wealthify offers a range of ‘ethical plans’. You place your money in the trusted hands of experts who work with top ethical providers to make it grow for you.
Wealthify work with companies that are proponents of the PRI. That is, ‘Principles of Responsible Investing’. It’s well worth reading up on these principles as well if you want to be an ethical investor.
Nutmeg is another investment platform that gives you the option of creating your own socially responsible portfolio. They score each portfolio based on how ethical it is in terms of environmental, social and government causes, and use their data to give you as much information about where your money is going and what it is doing as possible.
"We need to slow our rate of consumption and production and bring our economy back in sync with our planet's ecology"
Get Ethical With Crowdfunding
Out of everything, crowdfunding is a form of investing that demonstrates the power of decentralised networks and communities coming together to create radical change.
How Does Crowdfunding Work?
Crowdfunding is a form of ethical investment that gives you tangible returns on your investment and enables you to really see the difference you are creating.
The UK Crowd Funding Association defines this type of ethical investing simply as ‘a way of raising finance by asking a large number of people each for a small amount of money’. You invest in a crowdfunding scheme because you really care about the cause and want to see it prosper. You might enjoy perks like the occasional free ticket to an event, or some news updates, but really the reward is just helping an ethical cause you believe in to prosper.
There are all manner of great, affordable crowdfunding ventures you could get involved in. They range from water filtration in rural Indonesia to Sexy Socks, who give a pair of school socks to a child in need for every pair you buy.
Spending money is obviously not technically investing. However, you really can keep your money green and vote with your pounds by being mindful about how you spend. When you develop spending habits it means that, like with an investment, a significant portion of your money will get poured into a certain place over the course of your life. Therefore, wherever your favourite, go-to fashion brand, for example, has their money invested will get empowered or disenfranchised by you. Here are few key areas to look at:
For a thorough rundown of how to make sure you are buying ethical electricity, check out our feature all about Choosing The Right Renewable Energy Supplier.
The ones to check out are Ecotricity, Good Energy, and Ovo. They all provide brilliant ethical alternatives to fossil fuels and dirty energy that are no more expensive. Switching is as easy as a phone call.
Buying Local And Ethical
Using your money to buy from local suppliers as often as you can is a great way to be more ethical with your spending. To do this:
- Try to find out whether there are markets and organic farms in your local community
- Buy from small-scale farmers and producers so you can cut out the middlemen and know where your money is going
- Avoid unethical supermarket monopolies, packaged goods and plastic
- Take a look at the Soil Association and Farmdrop for some great ideas and advice about going organic
- Support local and social enterprises, community groups and co-ops.
Ultimately, however, we can’t consume our way to a better world. So, sticking to this simple adage as much as you can is the best way to go: if you don’t need it, don’t buy it!
Here's how you can get your consumption greener:
- Check out our 5 tips for a minimal life or, if that's a little daunting, then work on becoming slower consumer
- Exchange, repurpose, borrow and lend
- If you are going to buy something new, take a look at the supply chain and if it doesn’t align with your values, they don’t deserve your business.
- Check out our top 10 Ways To Spot An Ethical Brand
Green Money Talks
Spread the word about ethical investments! Money can be a taboo topic, but it's important to read up on issues and chat to friends, family and people in your community about it. Subscribe to ‘new economy’ magazines, like pebble!
Don’t compromise your values and don’t accept what you see as wrong.