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We can help influence positive change by being in a growing movement



By investing your money sustainably and ethically, you can play a part in a growing movement that is changing the world for the better, writes Richard Essex.

This article is an extract from Richard Essex’s 2014 book, Invest, Feel Good and Make a Difference, which is available now on Amazon.

History has taught us that as soon as issues start getting taken on as a movement then momentum grows fast and real change starts to happen.

In fact it can often be broken down into several stages. Firstly there will tend to be the pioneers. The people who will stand on a limb a bit. At first they, along with their ideas, might seem a little weird.

Secondly however, they will start to gather support from more people, often from different strata of society. At this point a movement is formed.

The third stage is when that movement has gathered momentum and entered the psyche of the mainstream. In other words, the issues, originally seen as way out, are now seen as normal and acceptable to fight for.

There have been many examples in the past where this has improved society. Take for example the issue of women’s rights.

This is something we take for granted today, but as recently as the late nineteenth, early twentieth century this was certainly not the case.

The full vote for women didn’t come about in fact until 1928. The origins of this change however can be traced back 50 years or so earlier. To be specific a lady called Lydia Becker formed the Manchester suffragette movement in 1867 following reaction to an article she wrote on the subject.

As a result of the Manchester group being formed similar groups started springing up all over the country. A movement was formed and political pressure followed as a result.

Therefore it was only when the suffragette movement started to take shape that it attracted sufficient attention, and as a result real concrete change started to take shape.

A direct analogy can be made with the environmental and social movement to date. We have gone through the pioneer stage. We experienced the shock tactics of organisations like Greenpeace and the radical ideas put forward by Friends of the Earth. We now accept that those radical ideas are part of accepted strategy today.

I believe over the last few years we have moved into that second stage. We are all carrying out far more environmental and socially aware activities. We even have serious political representation in this regard and we are starting to realise the benefits of investing in this direction.

The challenge therefore is to move through the second stage and into the third. In other words to make positive investing the norm.

When we have reached that point then we will start to realise fundamental change.

By deciding to invest your bit this way you will help to create this sea change. And if you’re still unsure just remind yourself where we are now compared with where we were say 20 years ago, even 10 years ago. Look at the strides we have made already.

In the developed world we are moving away from a throw-away society and towards one where we recycle and wrestle with saving energy.

We consider it sensible to assess the feasibility of solar panels on our house.

We quite happily buy cars which run partly on a battery.

We buy carbon offsets with our flights.

We will research ordinary everyday household products to check whether they were produced sustainably.

We will also check how healthy the food that we buy is for us.

We now readily accept that alternative healthcare should sit alongside the traditional pharmaceutical healthcare.

The list goes on.

So if these areas have become more the norm then would it not make absolute sense to continue investing in their development? Of course it would!

Have our lives not become richer because of these developments? Of course they have!

Is it not fair, humane and sensible that every part of the globe should benefit from these? Of course they should!

Will our economy be healthier and more successful as a result? It has to be.

Investing your bit now will start to force real sustainable positive change. As a result there’s just a chance you might feel good about it!

Photo: Patrick Moore via Free Images

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Further reading:

Everybody’s 10% is more influential than a few with 100%

Sustainable investment is built on trust

How sustainable investment has already changed the world

Breaking the eight myths of sustainable and responsible investment

Invest, Feel Good, And Make a Difference: an interview with the author

Richard Essex is an independent financial adviser with Grayside Financial Services, where he is a specialist for green and SRI advice. He is also on the steering committee with the Ethical Investment Association, a member of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) and the author of the 2014 book, Invest, Feel Good and Make a Difference.


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