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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

A Green Home: Green Investing

Jaci KennisonJaclyn Kennison is a freelance writer living and playing in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She owns and manages an art gallery and event venue between fits of shopping and redecorating.  

When a person has made a decision to go green, often the first place they think to begin the change is in their home. Shopping for recycled goods, ways to reuse what they already have, and tricks to tighten up their energy use are standard starting points for most newbie-greenies. At least that’s how it went for me.

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about our money, how we vote with our dollars by choosing environmentally friendly products and how we could put our green to use in another valuable way—investments.

Years ago, when I first sat before my investment broker with a tiny wad of money and asked how to embark on eco-investing, he cautioned me against it. A decade ago when the first wind and solar farms were forming as concepts bright with possibility, he gave me the hard truth about putting my money behind them; in an nutshell, the kinks hadn’t been worked out yet. Specifically—a way to store the power generated, and a realistic way to alter the grid to incorporate these tools.

wallet full of money 
Invest your green in something green. Photo By Scott Chan/Courtesy 

We’ve come a long way, my broker and I. So have green investments.

Last week when we sat down together again and I brought up voting with my investment dollar, he had a much more positive outlook.

Currently, there are a number of green mutual funds that offer investors the chance to back businesses that are making great strides in the battle against the destruction of our environment, or even those smaller companies that are simply making great efforts to go green themselves. A mutual fund, by nature, is less risky than many other investments because you put your money into a pool, so to speak. The fund then invests in a diverse portfolio to keep the risk low, and help clients see a sizeable return on their investments.

Ok, so what if I have a little bit of money that I’m ready to put into riskier stocks?

There are a few great options, in my broker's opinion. Clean Energy Fuels Corp is working to convert major transportation vehicles to natural gas. They recently partnered with UPS to construct and operate a natural gas fueling station near Las Vegas. In the area, 48 UPS vehicles are equipped to run on natural gas, lowering emissions and our dependence on oil. My broker likes this company because they are already established and are showing strong growth indicators.

Other companies, like AeroVironment Inc., are coming up with great innovations as well, such as electric car fueling stations in shopping and business centers. My broker advised me that investing in this technology carries even a bit more risk because the “gridwork” is not well established. For more information on other green-ing companies, he suggests searching Yahoo! Finance.

In the midst of our greening efforts around our homes and elsewhere in our lives, I want to encourage you (if you haven’t already) to green your retirement account, your child’s college fund and any other areas you can to support environmentally conscious living on a global scale. After all, if we are truly greening our lives, shouldn’t we be greening our future, and that of our country?

*Please be advised this information is strictly an opinion. Consult a professional for guidance on how to best manage your investments.