By Diane MacEachern

What you buy isn’t the only way to use your purse to change the world. Where you invest your money counts for a lot, and there are plenty of ways to invest that will pay social and environmental dividends on top of your earnings. Here are the top ten ways to invest your money in a socially responsible way.

• 1. Make socially responsible investing, or SRI, a key criterion for your portfolio. Evaluate companies based on the efforts they make to reduce pollution, stop global warming, and watch over parks, wilderness and wildlife. These “socially responsible” companies will also demonstrate respect for human rights and a strong commitment to their community. You can learn more about social investing from Co-Op America.

• 2. Earmark a percentage of your investments for SRI. If you’re hesitant to make your entire portfolio 100% “SRI,” commit to a percentage you feel comfortable with each quarter and gradually increase it as you watch its performance over time.

• 3. Participate in “shareholder actions ” to get companies to adopt specific policies that will result in a cleaner, safer, healthier world. If you’re a shareholder in a company, you can unite with other shareholders to encourage companies to pass environmentally-friendly resolutions governing their manufacturing processes.

• 4. Use your 401(k) plan and other retirement savings to invest in “green” companies and socially responsible mutual funds.

• 5. Vote your proxies. Watch your investment-related mail carefully. Vote your proxies on environment-related shareholder resolutions when the opportunity arises. You can check with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility to determine if any of the companies you invest in offer opportunities for important proxy votes.

• 6. Get your pension fund involved. If you have invested in a public, labor or private pension fund, ask your fund managers to support socially-responsible investments. If they support other companies, find out how they are voting they’re proxies. Collaborate with co-workers to let fund managers know you want them to support socially responsible investing.

• 7. Bank at institutions committed to reducing waste and pollution, conserving natural resources, addressing global climate change, and supporting organizations working to protect our quality of life.

• 8. Patronize banks that give borrowers loans to improve the energy efficiency of their home or auto transportation.

• 9. Choose a bank that offers free online checking and bill paying. You’ll use less paper and energy, and pay your bills on time, too! Options: Shorebank and Bank of America.

• 10. Stay informed. There are plenty of terrific books, newsletters and websites to help keep you up-to-date on investment performances and green money trends. To see some of the best, visit the Investing page of Your World.

Copyright by Diane MacEachern, Founder Big Green Purse Using Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World. No part of this material may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, redistributed, republished or commercially exploited in any way without the explicit prior written permission of Diane MacEachern. Please contact: Diane MacEachern at