How you earn and spend your cash can either be aligned with your values or contradict them. Following are some ideas to get you thinking like a new capitalist.
One of the all-around best sources of progressive consumer information is theCo-op America website (www.coopamerica.org). The site has tips and tools for the conscious consumer, including a resource at www.responsibleshopper.org that allows you to plug in the name of a company and learn all about its employment, environmental, and human rights records. The Green Guide (www.thegreenguide.com) provides a similar service, although some of the content is subscription protected. The Center for a New American Dream at www.newdream.org helps users find products and companies that support progressive values. Of course, the best shopping is often found at your neighborhood thrift store.
You don't have to schedule a meeting with the CEO to make positive changes in your workplace. Start by looking at your own work and asking yourself if you could make it more socially responsible. Environmental initiatives, like starting up a recycling program, can be a good place to begin. Besides being the right thing to do, they usually save money -- a fact that is likely to be well received by your boss. The Aussie website ecooffice.socialchange.net.au will help you start brainstorming about other ways to make an impact. Green@work magazine (www.greenatworkmag.com) offers articles and tips with a can-do attitude about corporate social responsibility. The organization Business for Social Responsibility (www.bsr.org) offers consulting and other resources to companies embracing progressive values. Another route to social change in the workplace is unionization: not for the timid, as the cards are stacked in favor of your boss. You can find a comprehensive guide to the organizing process at www.iww.org. Finally, entrepreneurs are leading the way to greener, more responsible workplaces. If it's time to start your own business, check out In Business magazine (www.jgpress.com), which offers resources and articles for socially minded entrepreneurs, and consider joining the Social Venture Network (www.svn.org), a membership group of socially responsible businesses.
The number of socially responsible investment funds is growing rapidly. If you have investments now or are thinking about making them, you can explore the various financial instruments for putting your money to work for good causes at the Social Investment Forum (www.socialinvest.org), a nonprofit organization linked to Co-op America. For the experienced investor, www.socialfunds.com offers newsfeeds and updates on socially responsible investing, and the site's media section can be helpful for the newbie, too. The Friends of the Earth website (www.foe.org) includes an extensive how-to guide for shareholder activism. Green Money Journal (www.greenmoneyjournal.com) is a quarterly magazine for socially responsible investors that offers both print and online subscriptions.