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What kind of investor are you?

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Over the last two years we’ve written a lot about sustainable investment (AKA ethical, responsible, impact, thematic, clean, etc.). With financial trade outstripping real trade 26:1, it is in the world of investment that we will create a viable future.

In writing about this subject we’ve identified five types of investor.

The Profiteers*

Profiteers know the damage being done to people and planet by their investments and do it enthusiastically to maximise their return. Some actively seek out the most harmful investments as it’s ‘just a game’ and the winner has the highest returning portfolio. From the dark days of slavery, through dubious corporate behaviour in the world wars to the current threats to our well being and environment, profit maximisation is the only game in town. At any cost. Profiteering simply means “making a profit by methods considered unethical“. How could investing in companies that harm the planet and increase the amount of human suffering be anything other than unethical profiteering?

The Nose Holders

Nose Holders know that what they invest in has an unpleasant aroma (often literally) but will do it anyway. They rationalise their own urgent need for a better return, or qualify that individually they can do little to effect social and environmental change or that to do otherwise would simply be too difficult or time consuming. This group often express regret about what they’re doing but their remorse is easily over-balanced by personal financial priorities and gain. It stinks, but not if you hold your nose.

The important thing about the first two groups, is they know the damage they are doing with their portfolio and either choose to embrace (profiteers) or ignore it (nose holders). Fortunately these first two groups form a minority of investors. The next two groups form the majority of private investors.

The Three Wise Monkeys

Three Wise Monkeys suspect that something is amiss with what they’re investing in but would prefer it if it wasn’t spoken about, especially in polite company. As long as they hear, speak and see no evil about the end result of investment, they’ll be just fine with what they invest in. Thank you very much. They will either adopt the ignorance defence of the following group (the unaware) or the rationalisation of the former group (nose holders). If approached in the right way, Three Wise Monkeys investors can often be encouraged to start their journey towards less harmful investment.

The Unaware

The Unaware simply haven’t made the connection between their investment portfolio (from ordinary savings account through to multi-asset strategic fund) and the world we live in. The most common response is, “I had no idea”, when the connection is gently explained. At this point they tend to float towards Nose Holders (“I need the return”), Three Wise Monkeys (“I don’t want to discuss it”) or, more often than not, the final group below.

The Enlightened

The final group are the Enlightened. This is the group that has made the connection between what they invest in and the world we live in. They know that by holding a stake in defence, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, pornography and fossil fuel companies, they would be increasing the sum of human misery and harming everyone’s future. Rather than grabbing that extra 0.1% today, they see investment as a highly involved, long-term activity that has huge negative ramifications if done irresponsibly. And why invest in misery and pollution when there are so many positive alternatives. The motivations for investing in this way are legion, and options plentiful from strictest exclusion of harmful sectors to a focus on beneficial ones. In the long run, these investors have a clear conscience and a healthy portfolio. They profit but don’t profiteer.

One of the charges regularly leveled at enlightened investors is that they invest “with one arm tied behind their back. If having an arm tied behind your back means not investing in companies that kill or abuse people or degrade our environment, threatening our future, then so be it. Enlightened investors choose not to profit from human misery and despoiling the only planet we have. At some point, an investment enlightenment perhaps, we will probably come to realise it is an outrage to do so.

So, what kind of investor are you? You can start to explore how you can invest more sustainably with a specialist financial adviser.

* We toyed with the idea of psychopath for this group, who are generally characterised by shallow emotions, stress tolerance, lacking empathy, cold-heartedness  egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity, criminality and antisocial behaviours.

Further reading:

Explore how you can invest more sustainably with a specialist financial adviser

Ethical investment, responsible investment, sustainable investment, impact investment: what’s in a name?

The sextet of sin: investing in war and death (cheerful headline or what?)

Five saintly areas of sustainable investment for All Saints’ Day

The Guide to Sustainable Investment (NEIW edition)

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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