Photo: How to invest green

Are you a green investor? (Credit: 401(K) 2012 via Flickr)

One day, I hope to retire my "reign" — when "green" is an obsolete term and simply the better (and only logical) way of doing things.

In the meantime, I want that other kind of green — my financial investments — to align with my values. (Think this blog isn't for ye of little money? Wrong. The less you have to spare, the smarter you need to be!)

Unsure how to choose the greenest companies and stocks? Wonder no longer (and no more excuses, either).

Socially responsible investing (SRI) is what you get when environmental, social, and governance factors come together in the selection and management of investments. It takes into account environmental sustainability or stewardship, labour practices, human rights, and corporate governance. Chances are good—but not guaranteed—that by choosing SRI you won't be supporting businesses involved in alcohol, tobacco, gambling, weapons, or mining. It also goes beyond "green" companies. Investments are screened for things like human rights violations, community involvement, and environmental performance.

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An excellent Canadian resource is the Responsible Investment Association (RIA), whose members include financial institutions, investment firms, financial advisors, companies, and individuals interested in socially responsible investment. Check out their fact sheets designed to answer questions like "Do social investors sacrifice returns?" or "What is community investing?"

Although banks often don't carry ethical funds, most credit unions do, and it's worth asking at your financial institution of choice. We can play the supply-and-demand game, too. The more we ask for socially responsible investments, the better!

What "green" investments have you made?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

July 29, 2012

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Feb 20, 2017
3:47 PM

To Stephen: I think that’s because each fund company has their own criteria for how they would define “ethical” or “socially responsible”. It’s best to look into the fund company itself, how they make their investment decisions, and how they define the various issues. The best I’ve found so far in Canada is NEI Investments. You can also find a local advisor who is a specialist (I’m one of them), on the RIA website.

Feb 10, 2017
3:41 AM

I want to know which banks in Canada are the greenest. Can anyone give me info on how to figure this out. Which questions do I ask my bank?

Aug 08, 2016
6:27 PM

i don’t understand what you mean when i read ‘Chances are good — but not guaranteed.’

isn’t the prime directive to source and invest in ethical companies, to strengthen them, so they can can effect wider positive change?

why didn’t you just write ‘Maybe, maybe not.’


Dec 10, 2015
11:38 AM

The link does not seem to be correct. The site is about dentists and optometrists. Is there an updated site/link?

Nov 15, 2013
6:59 AM

While not entirely green — the idea with some of these funds is that they represent the sustainable values at the table — getting companies to change by being shareholders. If that type of representation doesn’t fit your goals — then there are individual stocks that might fit them better — people could start being their own green fund managers!

Aug 14, 2012
4:04 PM

Unfortunately, we found that most ethical investment portfolios do in fact include mining, particularly gold. We also found that they invest in gas/oil companies. In fact, while the companies may pass a very rudimentary "ethics" test, they were a very long way from being either ethical or green. As an alcohol producer — certified organic, on-farm, zero-waste, no bottling, supporting environmental and social justice — we would not be allowed on their list either. In other words, the ethical funds offered by our credit union were not ethical or environmental. Perhaps some re-definitions are in order.

Aug 08, 2012
5:45 PM

The problem is if you look into the available ethical funds they are not even remotely ethical. It is too bad that the Credit Unions don't get their acts together and offer genuine socially responsible, ethical investment opportunities.

Aug 08, 2012
10:26 AM

I invested in a "Community Solar Bond" through the Ontario-based co-operative, SolarShare. The bonds earn 5% annually for 5 years and the investment pays for community-based solar PV development. The website is You can find similar investment opportunities like ZooShare, offering investments in a large biogas project.

Aug 03, 2012
2:14 AM

Request for grant to access clean water in maasailand southern Kenya

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