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Social Responsibility: Making Sustainable Investment Choices for Your Children

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children By vastateparksstaff via Flickr

Many parents choose to plan for their children’s future by creating an investment portfolio, but many dominant stocks and funds support causes that aren’t consistent with a sustainable future. This limits your options, but it can also help teach your children a valuable lesson – we don’t just invest in smart, successful companies, but in causes we believe are doing the right things in the world.

So how can you get your family involved in sustainable investing? Here are two key ways to enter this growing market.

Considering Divestment

One of the most popular modes of socially responsible investing (SRI) is based on opting out of the fossil fuel industry, a strategy known as divestment at the broadest level. First, divestment means pulling any money already invested in fossil fuels out of those stocks or funds. Then, investors need to place that money in other companies that share this commitment. It isn’t enough to skirt the issue of fossil fuels by avoiding directly supporting the industry. You should do your homework and find out what companies have also adjusted their portfolios in this way.

You may have a hard time separating your investments from fossil fuels because there’s so much money in the field, but as SRI grows in popularity, it should be easier to find pre-compiled lists of companies that are part of the divestment movement. Some financial advisors also specialize in SRI and can guide you through this process.

The ESG Framework

Another major model for sustainable investing is the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) approach, a framework that’s meant to identify industry leaders who show particular concern for the impact of their actions. This may mean demonstrating a commitment to environmentalism, transparency, diversity, and even tax policy. Such companies understand that social responsibility can provide a competitive edge in today’s market, and ESG has gained such popularity that even Goldman Sachs has developed ESG-focused tools.

The main issues underlying ESG-based financial decisions are simple enough for a child to understand, so don’t hesitate to discuss this investment strategy, even with young children. While your kindergartener may not be ready to understand the inner workings of a mutual fund, they already grasp why we take care of the earth and each other. You can also introduce the topic by discussing how some companies pay a lot of attention to taking care of the earth and the people and animals that live on it, while others don’t. This will lay the foundation for more complex conversations about social responsibility as your children grow.

Negotiating Custodial Accounts

As you develop an investing plan for your children’s future, you’ll have to create a custodial account that allows you to control their portfolio until they’re of legal age. Depending on how it’s structured, one or both parents’ names may be on the account, and it’s important to be clear about this issue. In the event of a divorce, you may need to consult a family lawyer who’s knowledgeable about financial issues to avoid common post-divorce disputes over who manages your children’s investments.

The face of investing is changing with the development of stronger social ethics, and it’s never too early to introduce these issues to your child. As they learn about money, give them opportunities to make commitments to social issues they care about and talk about how you’re saving money for them in ways that share a concern for the world they are growing up in.

Many parents think their children are too young to understand these issues, but SRI isn’t complicated – it’s an ethical approach to the future.

 

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.

While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.

One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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Environment

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.

1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.

4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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