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Can you really ever invest ethically?

Take the Ecological Footprint Calculator quiz here to see how many Earths you’d need with your lifestyle – it’s a pretty cool calculator and nice reminder of what we can do individually, even if it sometimes feels like a drop in the bucket. 

I was sitting around thinking last night about whether or not someone could really invest ethically. In green energy, avoid oil and gas, avoid companies with morals that do not line up with yours… and frankly, if you are an index fund investor, this is not possible. With so many companies in an index, you are bound to find at least half of them to be bad apples depending on how strict you set your morals.

As I always like to say – vote with your money – I wonder if investing in these companies, basically helps them thrive, or if it’s also a combination of consumer behaviour of where you put said money when you go out to eat, shop, and otherwise spend your cash.

Can you really invest ONLY in ethical companies? ONLY in green energy?

The whole point of investing is to make money, and without a doubt, it is not throwing money into vegan companies like Beyond Meat. I suppose putting a bit in there is fine, but to base your portfolio only around this kind of living, I am not seeing it as practical or realistic, to be honest.

So what to do?

My only saving grace in all of this, is charitable contributions (self-explanatory), and consumer spending.

Where I put my money, is something I can really personally control and focus on such as spending at small businesses, avoiding companies that don’t line up with my values, and not buying from ones that aren’t making changes.

Or even changing my habits like cutting back drastically on eating meat, dairy, driving less, traveling a lot less, not going to the office (work from home has revolutionized my ecological footprint).

But without having made any money in investments or otherwise, you cannot really freely give money to charity or spend as as you want WITHOUT looking at the price and going for something mass produced and cheaper (I am thinking of organic food at this point).

Of course, you can always buy secondhand (I am a huge fan and get most of my clothes off Poshmark – use code SHERRYISH for a credit), but secondhand goes only so far (sorry, I draw the line at buying underwear secondhand because I am privileged enough to be able to do so).

I guess I struggle with this. How do I invest in a world I want, and still make money? Is it possible? Or can I really only control where I spend my money?

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