Green investing: Put your money where your Earth is
Environmentally and socially responsible investment companies help make ecosystems and the economy more sustainable.
Mon, Aug 31 2009 at 4:00 AM
GROW YOUR MONEY: Investors looking for a way to help the Earth and their bank accounts can choose funds that help the environment or social causes. (Photo: pfala/Flickr)
As investors throw their hands up in the face of a plummeting economy, some are beginning to look for alternative investing strategies.
Green financial companies offer investment opportunities in potentially lucrative areas as we all scramble to pump up the economy while changing the status quo. Big oil? A thing of the past. Alternative energy is the wave of the future, and with it, there will be prospects galore for those wishing to save what's left of their nest eggs by investing in the future.
A sustainable future is what many of these companies are trumpeting, and for good reason: Bleak present economy aside, responsible people are looking for a way to feel good about where they put their money. They want to know that while they're (hopefully) profiting from wise selections, they're also saving the world by providing a healthy environment for future generations.
Several green financial companies have risen to the challenge, each with its own approach to sustainable investing. Take Domini Social Investments, for example: The firm shuns tobacco companies and weapons manufacturers, and guides the companies it owns to avoid sweatshops, rein in greenhouse gas emissions and make products in a safer manner.
Domini embraces socially responsible investing, guided by two fundamental principles: the promotion of a society that values human dignity, and the protection of our natural environment. Its investment policy stresses ethical values, financial value and social impact to ensure its core principles are intact.
The Domini Social Bond Fund, according to its literature, "invests in bonds and other securities that help residents of underserved urban and rural communities to start their own businesses and buy their own homes." There is also a Domini Social Equity Fund (which includes Class R shares), Domini European Social Equity Fund, Domini European PacAsia Social Equity Fund and Domini PacAsia Social Equity Fund. The Domini Money Market Account is insured by the FDIC and placed with ShoreBank, the first U.S. bank to commit to rebuilding distressed communities.
Another company whose focus is on sustainable investing is Pax World Mutual Funds. Guided by environmental, social and governance criteria, according to its literature, Pax World looks for competitive, long-term performance with fewer downside risks. It bears several funds: Balanced, Growth, Value, Small Cap, International, High Yield Bond, Women's Equity and Global Green.
Particularly forward-thinking are its Women's Equity Fund and Global Green Fund. The former invests in companies that promote gender equity through internal policies and programs, and that take affirmative steps to attract, retain and promote women. The latter invests in equity securities in environmental markets where companies focus on alternative energy and energy efficiency, water treatment and pollution control, and waste technology and resource management.
Winslow Green Mutual Funds is a pioneer in the field of green investing. Since its inception in 1983, it has stayed true to its policy of investing in companies that provide environmental solutions such as clean energy, water management, resource efficiency, sustainable living, environmental services, green transportation and green building. This strategy pays off with significant growth in the long term. Winslow's interests maintain environmental efficiency, social responsibility and strong governance practices. The company also prides itself on providing both a green investment philosophy and positive investment returns.
Its Winslow Green Growth Fund invests in domestic, small-growth eco-responsible companies. Its benchmark is multicap growth, midcap focus, measured by the Russell Midcap Growth Index. The Winslow Green Solutions Fund, using a small cap growth style, invests solely in green products and services, in companies of all sizes around the world.
Overall, these and other green investment companies, such as New Alternatives Fund (which concentrates on alternative energy), Calvert Foundation (which stresses the alleviation of poverty) and Timbervest (which invests in sustainable forests) share the same purpose — to bring their investors a healthy return on their money while improving the world around them.
Are there any guarantees their clients' embrace of tikkun olam (the Jewish policy of "healing the world") will reward them with heaps of monetary green? No, but as they take the risk that goes hand-in-hand with investments of any kind, at least these investors will feel good about trusting their money with such well-intentioned firms.
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