Corporations worth billions of dollars didn’t get all their money just by playing fair. Even Google ($GOOG), with the motto “Don’t Be Evil,” has dodged billions in taxes and sold products made using cheap foreign labor in terrible conditions.
Yet not every company operates like this. Some companies go so far out of their way to avoid cheap and exploitative labor that it cuts into their bottom line. Other organizations produce products and services in a safe and ethical manner while increasing their revenue streams. A select few companies merely exist to oppose the unethical, world-ruining practices of Big Oil, Big Water, and Big Coal.
Best of all, you can invest your money in these world-changing companies without having to feel dirty about your small personal stake at the end of the day. If you really care about a company’s morals, code of ethics, and their impact/footprint on society and the environment, this is what you should be looking for:
Research and invest in energy companies that exist solely to make a change.
First Solar ($FSLR) is one of the biggest solar energy stocks on the market. Canadian Solar ($CSIQ) and JA Solar ($JASO) offer similar products and services. As of this writing, they’re down a bit due to the 2016 election and the pending regime change, but they’re undoubtedly the future of energy.
Consider finding ETFs that suit your personal code of ethics.
Scared by climate change and big oil? Consider putting your money into alternative energy ETFs like $SPYX and $ETHO. Want to only buy stocks in LGBTQ-friendly companies? Check out $EQLT. Some of these ETFs might still include companies with some questionable practices in other areas, so it’s best to do your research to see which companies are included in the ETF portfolio.
Look into PowerShares Water Resource and everything they do for cleaner, safer water.
PowerShares Water Resource ($PHO) is an ETF composed of 28 companies who deliver clean and purified water to homes and businesses. As water becomes more scarce, water-focused securities will be important in the future. Don’t believe this? Michael Burry, who was chronicled in the book/film The Big Short, is a huge water investor.
If you want to become an ethical investor — we’re talking no child labor, no pollution, no nothin’ — avoid big index funds.
The S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the Nasdaq 100 all feature companies whose practices are kind of icky. Sure, the company might be good as a whole, but their products are often made with cheap labor in foreign countries, have an anti-consumer and anti-privacy mindset, or just make and sell products that contribute to global warming.
Remember to always do your research before you invest. Looking at a company’s financial history and code of ethics on their website is nice, but everything they say is strictly from a PR standpoint. Consider independent and outside sources for all of their business dealings. Also, since we’re talking about big businesses that are openly traded on the market, they probably deal with suppliers who don’t have the same outlook as they do.
No company is 100% perfect, but with the right data and right approach, you could easily make morally and financially sound investments for your future.
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