So the office is aglow with low-energy light bulbs, and your lycra-clad behind polishes a bike saddle every morning. You're doing your bit to save the planet, and probably saving money too. But where is that cash going? If it's stashed in a fund that's financing heavy polluters (or the weapons, tobacco or gambling trades), then it's in the wrong place. That's the theory behind ethical investment, which says it's better to redirect your money towards wholesome ends, such as renewable energy.
In the UK, there are about 100 green and ethical funds, with a combined value close to £9bn. Not bad for something dismissed in the mid-80s as 'Brazil funds' (as in 'only for nuts'). They still have their critics, not least of the wisdom of limiting your activity in a free economy. But advocates say they're here to stay, and that, having made a mess of the current financial system, it's the conventional funds that are on their last legs. Comprehensive research is a must, first into your own ethics, then into finding the products that match them. And don't forget the numbers. There's every reason to be as scrupulous about the financials and to expect decent returns from your ethical investment as you would with mainstream investment. Ethical Investment Research Services offers a comprehensive guide, at eiris.org.
Greenie points (out of 10)
Six: a chance to put your money where your morals are.
- Dave Waller is MT's resident eco broker.