I was struck by two news items last week that said a lot about where we are as a society and where we need to go.

The first was the annual consumer orgy known as Black Friday, the kick-off to the Christmas shopping season. Once again, there were scenes from the U.S. of stampeding shoppers, frenzied merchandise grabbing and even fist fights as people tried to get in on bargains.

The chaos went on in some locations even though more shoppers preferred to do their shopping from home—online sales in the U.S. were up 24% to a record $6.2 billion on Black Friday, according to Adobe Analytics.

On the same day, the U.S. government released the National Climate Assessment, a report from 13 scientists that warned climate change will “wreak hundreds of billions of dollars of damage” to the economy, public health, coastlines and infrastructure, according to a New York Times report.

Sadly, the Times says the Trump administration chose to release the report on Black Friday because Americans, focused on Thanksgiving and shopping, would be unlikely to pay much attention to it. What’s more, the White House calculated that even if they did notice it, Trump’s base wouldn’t care.

However, the dire warnings from the scientific community about climate change can’t be ignored. They are a part of a bigger story about the increasingly urgent need to reduce our impact on the environment, including through rampant consumerism, and find a sustainable future for our planet.

One way many people are choosing to help make a better world is by placing their savings in responsible investments. Indeed, Canada is a leader in socially responsible investing (SRI), representing over half of Canadian assets under management in 2017, according to a new report from the Responsible Investment Association. Over $2 trillion is now invested responsibly in Canada, the report says.

Much of that money is from large institutional investors that now have a strong focus on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments. However, more and more individual investors also want to align their investments with their personal beliefs. To serve this market, 120 ESG exchange traded funds are now available, according to a recent PWL Capital report entitled A Guide to Responsible Investing: Doing Well by Doing Good.

The study, authored by PWL Research Director Raymond Kerzérho, Portfolio Manager Peter Guay and Analyst Marc Brodeur-Béliveau, concludes that investors don’t have to take more risk or sacrifice returns to hold an ESG-focused portfolio. It also proposes an ESG portfolio that follows the PWL Capital investment philosophy. I encourage you to have a look.

Responsible investing appeals to me because I have a long-held passion for protecting and conserving nature as reflected in my support for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. However, I also recognize that an investment policy is a highly personal matter and responsible investing isn’t a priority for everyone.

However, if this is an option that interests you, give me a call. I’d be pleased to discuss it with you.