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Why This Solar Company Founder is Starting a Credit Union

Blake Jones, co-founder of Namaste Solar and Clean Energy Credit Union, was growing frustrated with the poor financing choices available to his customers. Turns out you can get better financing for a t.v. or couch than you can for solar panels. So he set out to do something about it. Jones and his team are launching the Clean Energy Credit Union. Their goal: to offer the lowest interest rates to consumers looking to purchase renewable energy products and services.

A Gradual Epiphany: From Oil & Gas to Clean Energy

How did Blake Jones, a visionary leader in the renewable energy movement, go from working in oil and gas, to launching an employee-owned cooperative solar installation company, a solar purchasing cooperative, an impact investing fund, and now the Clean Energy Credit Union?

Blake Jones, Boulder, CO

?It was a slow awakening?, says Jones. ?I was working in the oil and gas industry right out of college when I went to work for a subsidiary of Halliburton. I was in love with the oil and gas industry. It sounds strange to admit that. I had read a book called The Prize, by Pulitzer Prize winning author Daniel Yurgin, about the history of oil.

I thought oil was the neatest thing and made the world go round. I was ambitious, wanted to make a lot of money, and wanted to work abroad. And I got all of those things.

But fortunately I had an older brother who is passionate about renewable energy. He helped me open my eyes to some of the disadvantages of our over-dependence on fossil fuels and what it does to our planet.?


Over time, Jones shifted his passion for oil and gas towards renewable energy. He went to work in Nepal for 3 years, installing solar systems in remote villages along the foothills of the Himalayas. ?And I loved it?, says Jones.

It was here that he learned about renewable energy technology and small business management.?After the Renewable Energy Standard passed in Colorado in 2004, Jones came back to co-found Namaste Solar.

Namaste Solar: Employees Are Owners and Decision Makers

Namaste Solar?s employee-owned cooperative model is their secret sauce and the reason they?ve seen a 50% compound annual growth rate over their 13-year history, while other solar companies have struggled.

??we were all on the same page about the different kind company we wanted to start. We thought, if we?re going to do this, we?re not going to start a conventional company. ? Everyone at Namaste Solar thinks and acts like an owner.?

Jones and his team started Namaste Solar as a 100% employee owned, democratic workplace. In the early years of the company, everyone made the same salary, including the CEO. Today, there?s a 6-to-1 cap on highest-to-lowest total pay. Every employee gets an equal vote in important decisions, like who to elect to the board. Their one-person-one-vote model makes employees feel like true contributors.

?We are completely transparent. Every bit of company information is shared, including pay ? which stands to this day. And we donate 10% of our profit each year to the community.?

According to Jones, their secret sauce of employee ownership, democratic workplace, and extreme transparency has attracted many people who are passionate about both solar and proving there?s a better way to do business than the conventional norm.

Namaste Solar is now known as prime example and champion of the B Corporation movement, the idea that the power of business can be used to solve social and environmental problems.

The Dark Side of Solar

Namaste Solar is now 13 years old, employs 175 people and brings in $50 million in revenue per year. ?

But it hasn?t been easy. They have done very well in an industry that has seen a lot of shake-out. While the solar industry has been super-hot, the market is so competitive that many solar companies have gone bankrupt.

?There?s a dark side to solar?, says Jones. ?It turns out that most of our competitors are not profitable. But they can raise a lot of money on Wall Street because their top line is growing so quickly. The focus for these companies is on land grabbing market share.? ?

This makes for strange competitive dynamics since Namaste Solar is going up against companies that are solely focused on expanding total sales through aggressive marketing by using money raised from Venture Capitalists, rather than trying to run a profitable business.

Finding Investment to Fund Sustainable Growth

Yet, it turns out there is a path to raising capital for growth from people who believe in sustainable growth.

In the beginning, Namaste Solar was 100% employee owned.

?Being na?ve first-time entrepreneurs, we thought that if we took external capital we?d lose control. We were getting a call every 2 weeks from Venture Capital or Private Equity firms, offering lots of money but it had strings attached. They wanted us to grow quickly and provide a liquidity event in the next 5 years.?

Because they sought to keep control of the company with their employees, they made it a core value that they will never have external investors. ?In hindsight, that was a little misguided or misinformed?, says Jones.

They started meeting other like-minded companies, some of them through the Certified B Corporation community and the National Center for Employee Ownership. They met large and successful cooperatives like Organic Valley and Equal Exchange and learned that they could raise capital without losing control. ?These cooperatives had issued a class of non-voting preferred stock, which means that external shareholders would not be able to change the company?s philosophy or direction.

?When we saw that model we thought, why didn?t we think of that??

Namaste Solar can how raise capital via a class of stock that doesn?t have voting rights and allows them to keep their cooperative model and governance structure intact. Seeing that cooperatives could successfully find mission-aligned investors showed Jones that it could be done. ?

Beyond Solar: Creating Momentum for Impact

One of the most interesting things about the interview was how this community of social entrepreneurs helps each other out, even when they compete.

Since founding Namaste Solar, Jones launched an impact fund that invests in private companies that provide social or environmental impact. He also co-founded Amicus Solar Cooperative, the first purchasing cooperative in the U.S. for the solar industry. The purchasing co-op is jointly owned and managed by its 48 member-companies.

And now, with the launch of Clean Energy Credit Union, any individual or contractor selling renewable energy products (from any renewable energy provider) will be able to access the lowest rates in the market.

Jones and his team have proven over and over that their sustainable and democratic approach to product, services and capital raising can and does work.

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How Crickets and Buildings Can Save the World

We’re here with Mitchell Joachim, co-founder and director of research at Terreform ONE, located at the New Lab building in Brooklyn. Terreform ONE?is an architecture and urban design research and consulting group that promotes smart design in cities.

By the way, if you haven?t seen New Lab, check them out. This refurbished old shipyard in Brooklyn is home to the new manufacturing. The building houses a community of entrepreneurs working in advanced technology. Thought leaders in robotics, AI, connected devices, nanotechnology, urban tech, and more collaborate in the coolest work sharing space we?ve ever seen.

About Mitch + Terreform ONE

In addition to running Terreform ONE, Mitch is also an Associate Professor of Practice at NYU.?He was an architect at the offices of Frank Gehry and I.M. Pei. He’s been awarded?a Fulbright Scholarship and fellowships with TED, Moshe Safdie, and Martin Society for?Sustainability at MIT. He was chosen by Wired magazine for “The Smart List? and selected by?Rolling Stone for ?The 100 People Who Are Changing America?.

Mitch Joachim pointing to dual purpose modular shelter and cricket farm

Terreform ONE is on the cutting edge of smart urban design. For example, when the United Nations mandated that insect sourced protein is a major component in addressing the global food crisis, Terraform One responded by building a?dual-purpose shelter and modular insect farm. The structure provides food for communities and serves as a shelter at the same time. Check their other projects?here.

What?s your origin story? How did you get into eco-architecture and smart design?

In architecture school in the 90?s, we were very interested in a movement called Deconstruction, which involved a lot of reading of European philosophers like Derrida, Heidegger and DeLanda. Things that were interesting but were very selfish.?We wore a lot of black, we were angry, and we spoke in tongues. This was architecture for other architects.

We were concerned about the environment, the world. We were concerned about making things fantastic, beautiful, and fabulous and different. But we didn?t see our contribution to climate as being an issue.

I realized that my call in life wasn?t to make things dark and creepy. It was to actually answer some of these problems that architecture itself causes. For example, over 40% of all energy used in the US is in buildings, or the built environment. So we can do better.

Turns out that my reason was not only for energy conservation, but there was also a quest for a new aesthetic. What is a real, organic architecture?

The variances that I had been trained on like Frank Lloyd Wright are just decoration. They?re mimesis. They are copying nature but they are not actually nature.?Other versions still mimic ideas in nature. They?re pulled in and still use glass, steal and aluminum. But they are not working with the stuff of life.

On the other hand, fitting into an ecosystem?s metabolism and building structures and systems that have no distinction between the landscape and the building… that?s interesting to me.

What do you say to the Negative Nellies who claim it?s too late, that the damage to the environment is done?

The Negative Nellies have good reason to be upset because the impact that we?ve made on the climate, the impact we are feeling right now, happened 20 years ago. So even if we changed today, we would not feel those effects for 20 years.

We?ve been told about the warming of the atmosphere since 1953, I think first with the Keeling Curve. Science said 3 decades ago that it was unstoppable, and that we needed to reduce, reuse and change the way we live. But it?s like the frog boiling in water ? doesn?t know it?s boiling until its too late.

But I also think it?s like driving a car when you know you?re going to get into an accident. The brakes will help, steering will help, even if we know it?s going to happen. The Negative Nellies throw their hands up in the air and let go of the steering wheel. But we, as humanity, should fight until the very end. We should use all of our powers to stop or reduce the damage that we know is coming.

What can businesses do to reverse the trend?

Most countries and most people operate from a single predicate: growth. Make more money, more jobs, and extract more resources. And do it without any limits. Capitalism is very much a part of that. We have influenced an entire epoch with this line of thinking.

But business can also be a force for good. If the economy is self-sufficient, self-sustaining, and circular, if what it takes away it gives back in other forms, if it?s not so selfish, if there?s some thought and compassion, then it can be good.

The first and last thing we need to do is have principles. Not make money for money?s sake, but have a purpose to your business. For example, to protect your family, the species, the environment.

Capitalism without morals is a serious issue. Caring, thinking, learning, and making smart decisions about what to do with your money is important. Not just making money for money?s sake. Because that?s the emptiest thing you can do.

So the top 3 things we can do as individuals are:

  1. Be aware. That?s the most important thing we can do. Be aware of what is happening around you and how you live in the world.
  2. Get educated. There are people called scientists. Listen to the things that are being told to you by people who actually know what they are talking about.
  3. Once you are aware and educated, act. But act in ways in that make sense for you and your lifestyle and world around you. It doesn?t make sense to recycle and compost if no one in NYC is recycling or composting. But you can act by taking a vote when a recycling and composting program comes up for a vote.

Americans are a group of people that don?t like being told what to do. They will do it when they are excited to choose it. That?s why becoming aware and educated is so important.

More about Terreform ONE and Mitch Joachim.

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How Credit Utilization & Reporting Dates Impact Your Credit Score

Credit utilization: What a sexy topic, right? It’s up there with Annual Percentage Rates and 401(k) rollovers. Despite the impact credit utilization can have on your credit score, aka your life, I’ve noticed very few people understand it.

There are two main things to understand about credit utilization.

1. Ratio and Impact on Credit Score

Credit bureaus and banks don’t know you personally or how responsible you are, so they guess at your integrity and ability to repay based on your current and historical financial behavior. How much credit you’re using from month to month (your “utilization percentage”) is a major factor in their guess???roughly 1/3 of your score.

Imagine a banker saying, “How close to maxing out your card are you? Oh wow, you’re totally maxed? Do you always do that?” Banks see high usage as a negative sign and they punish you for it???charging you higher interest rates offering less favorable terms.

Let’s walk through a scenario. Here’s your credit card. For easy math, you have a limit of $10,000. Here are three different balances and their corresponding utilization rates:

  1. ?$2,000 credit card balance = 20% credit utilization
  2. $4,000 credit card balance = 40% credit utilization
  3. $5,000 credit card balance = 50% credit utilization

The math is pretty simple. If you have a balance of $6,000, you’re using 60% of the total available credit of $10,000. It’s ideal to stay around or under 30% credit utilization. Banks see usage under 30% as responsible, wise, frugal.

In other words, don’t let your balance be over 30% usage on the reporting date.

2. Reporting Dates

You pay your card off every time your bills comes, so you think you’re all good and you’re going to stop reading now. Wrong. Let’s picture a scenario like this:

  • You have a credit card with a $10,000 limit.
  • Your bill comes due on the 10th of every month. You get it, you pay it.
  • You’re cuckoo about miles and points, so you put everything on your card every month???let’s say you put roughly $6,000 a month on the card. This happens between the 10th (when you pay your bill) and the end of the month.
  • Your card issuer reports to the credit bureaus on the last day of each month.

If you pay your bill on the 10th and your issuer reported on the 12th of every month, you’d be golden. You would appear to always be at or near 0% utilization. But the dates don’t always align like that. If you’ve put your $6,000 on the card by the end of the month, it’s going to look more like a 60% utilization rate???and that means a lower score.

With regards to utilization, it’s not about when you pay your bill and if you pay it off. It’s about when the reporting happens and what your balance is at that time???hopefully at or under 30% of the limit. Credit bureaus only see a snapshot of you on that one date.

Here’s a more real-world example:

  • It’s the 10th. Your bill comes and you pay it in full.
  • It’s the 15th. You purchase $6,000 worth of wedding expenses.
  • It’s the 29th. Reporting happens tomorrow.

At this point, you could do nothing and you’d have a 60% utilization rate. Or you could pay half and have a 30% utilization rate. Or you could pay in full and have a 0% usage

Here’s my idea for a much smarter credit card to influence our behavior when it comes to spending and paying.

Cards are already moving the 16 digit number to the back to make the card look better. Let’s put the stuff that really matters up front to change our behavior when it comes to spending and paying our bill.

I’m curious to know if any of you knew about utilization or reporting dates. And if so, do you have your own ways for managing reporting vs. due dates?

Send us your story if you’ve been duped, on the road to financial recovery, conquered your finances, or want to give feedback. Extra points if you know of any great conscious brands who are doing good things for People & Planet. We’d love to know about those, too. Send it to

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The New Landscape of Sustainable, Impact, and ESG Investing

On October 19th, 2017, Gitterman Wealth Management hosted?the NYC Sustainable ESG Investing Conference for Financial Advisors?in mid-town Manhattan.? One of the largest conferences of its kind for financial advisors in NYC brought together over 200 financial professionals to talk about the future of Sustainable, Impact, and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Investing.

Below is a transcript of a talk given by Gitterman Wealth Management Co-Founding Partner, Jeff Gitterman, to begin the day:

Investing With Purpose

Jeff Gitterman: One of the things I wanted to do was level set the differences between ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), SRI (Socially Responsible Investing) and Impact Investing, and more importantly, also talk about how we can educate the advisory and RIA communities as to what these endeavors are and why they are so important.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of negative perceptions that remain about Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), because in the past, many advisors have believed, and in some cases rightfully so, that in order to invest in socially responsible ways, there needed to be a sacrifice on returns. What many advisors don?t yet know, is that largely due to the proliferation of computerized big data and artificial intelligence (AI), the landscape of sustainable investing is changing dramatically, and the idea that we need to sacrifice returns in order to invest in this way is no longer true.

At?Gitterman Wealth Management, we talk about Sustainable Investing in terms of a pyramid:

ESG Investing

Environmental, Social and Governance Factors

As you can see, ESG Investing is at the base of the pyramid.? In our firm, we refer to ESG as the ?GPS of Investing,? in that we see many similarities between ESG data and a car?s GPS system.? Twenty-five or thirty years ago, if we wanted to take a road trip, we would likely take out a large fold-out map to chart our course.? And although this map might tell us how to get from A to B, it would tell us nothing about any potential delays or pitfalls we might encounter along the way ? things like traffic delays or construction roadblocks, etc.

When I first began thinking about ESG, I was walking to work one day, and in my mind, I saw a GPS system. What does a GPS system do? It allows for information, accumulated through computerized big data and artificial intelligence (AI), to come into our car or handheld device, and help us navigate the trip we?re taking, alerting us about traffic and road conditions while providing us with live feed information to reroute us when necessary.

ESG is a similar type of data set, allowing us to think about companies far more in real time than the 10K financial statements do.? I think about the 10Ks as the old fold-out maps, and I look at all this new ESG data that is coming in as the GPS on the companies that I?m looking to invest in.

ESG gives us real-time information from all over the world, about environmental, social, and corporate governance problems that companies are facing. It is a risk mitigator and alpha generator, which are topics that we will talk about in much more depth on?today?s panels. ESG makes it easier for us to achieve our investment goals safely, by giving us all of this live data on a regular basis. It is simply a data set and the foundation of a good portfolio because it helps avoid the potential pitfalls and hazards of intangible asset risk, and will also allow us to vote with our money in ways that we cannot yet even imagine.

Socially Responsible Investing

This brings us to next layer of the pyramid?SRI, or values-based investing. Above ESG, we can incorporate?SRI?screens into our process, where we can layer in a values-based approach with our clients by filtering out certain stocks or complete sectors.? Examples of SRI screens include fossil fuel, firearms, tobacco, and many others.? SRI can also be used to drive investment themes such as climate change, access to clean water, gender equality, etc.?To be clear, SRI screens can be layered on top of ESG screens, but they are not the same thing at all.

There is a beautiful movie out by?, whom we now work with, titled ?Prosperity,? and in it, they point out that if the entire world stopped chewing gum for about a month or so, the whole chewing gum industry would be completely wiped out.

Now, I personally like chewing gum and am not advocating this, but it is a great example of the power that we have as consumers and investors. We need to take away this top-down approach that we?ve all bought into, thinking that the only way to change a corporation is to get on its board and make changes from the top.

I am totally in favor of proxy voting because that is a bottom-up approach, but where and how we spend our money is even more powerful.

Our research shows that 83% of millennials and 77% of women want values based investing, and they will be the ones to turn this pyramid upside down.

Impact Investing

At the very top of the pyramid, we have Impact Investing, which we define as an investment into a company with the intention of generating a measurable environmental and/or social impact alongside a financial return.

When talking about companies with regard to Impact Investing, the first question we ask is if they are willing to have themselves measured against a standard, such as the United Nations??Sustainable Development Goals?(STGs), or the?Principles for Responsible Investment?(PRI). Are they reporting on a regular basis, and willing to report to their shareholders on how they are affecting the SDGs and mitigating problems?? This is Impact Investing.

We offer ESG, SRI, and Impact Investing for our clients, as well as research, education, and investing services for financial advisors outside of our firm. But even with clients that don?t have a values tilt; I still incorporate ESG data into their portfolios.? Because again, why would we use an old map when we have all of this GPS data at our disposal? As financial advisors, I feel it is our fiduciary responsibility to at least look at the data.? We have to look at it.

As advisors, I think we?ve gone way too long allowing Wall Street to tell us what products we should be selling to our clients. We are stewards of our clients? wealth, and we can turn the tide. I know that I got into this business to help people, and I think this is true for most advisors. I?m not saying that making money isn?t a big part of the equation, but somewhere at the base of being a financial advisor or RIA is a desire to help people achieve their goals.

Incorporating ?planet? into ?people? and ?profit? is important, because obviously if there is no planet left, there will be no people or profits.? As RIAs, we control most of the mass affluent wealth in this country, and we can make a huge impact.? We can change the world. I truly believe that, and it makes it more exciting to wake up and go to work.

So, I implore all of us to learn more about this new frontier of investing. All of the?companies that are here today?do an incredible job in helping to educate others, and we are speaking all over the country, with many of these companies, helping to educate advisors and investors on how they can vote with their investor capital.

Gitterman Wealth Management
SMART (Sustainability?Metrics?Applied to?Risk?Tolerance)?
Sustainable, Impact, and ESG?Investing Services
for?Individuals?and?Financial Professionals

This article was originally published on?Gitterman Wealth Management

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The Future of Work and Why It Matters

Automation, gig work and the new economy. Here are the highlights from the Future of Work panel at the Cambridge Associates Impact Investing Conference 2017 in Denver, Colorado.

Automation is already here… and growing

Automation is gearing up to have a massive impact on our economy. According to McKinsey, ?49% of paid activities have the potential to be automated. An estimated?80-100% of all truck driving jobs will be replaced by automation.

The automation momentum is just getting started. According to Andrew Stevenson from JUST Capital:

  • 70% of service sector jobs are at risk
  • 30% of oil and gas jobs will be reduced in 2025
  • In financial services: UBS plans to reduce its workforce from 95K to 65k employees
Just Capital estimates that 66 million U.S. jobs are at risk for automation. Even if only one fourth of that estimate becomes a reality, it means stagnant wage growth. Why? Because of competition for fewer positions.

Keep in mind that wages have already been stagnant for the last 13 years, while housing, education and healthcare costs have grown by double digits. Just one of the effects of this trend: the opioid crisis facing the U.S. is correlated to under-employment and stagnant wages.

Meanwhile, the gig economy might not be all that

Companies are increasingly outsourcing non-core operations. Lower level jobs like janitorial services have been outsourced for some time. What?s different today: higher skilled jobs are now also being converted to gig work at an alarming pace. That includes lawyers, accountants, and financial analysts.

This shift away from corporate employment and toward independent contractors has massive implications for our economy. Here?s why:

  • There is no minimum wage
  • Many independent contract jobs (aka gig work) do not pay as well as corporate jobs do
  • There are no corporate benefits (e.g. healthcare, equity, bonuses)
  • There is no social security
  • It is more difficult to get credit (due to an inconsistent paycheck)

The New Economy: some good news after all

While these macro trends sound bleak, the good news is that we are at the same time experiencing the emergence of the new economy. With it, new types of jobs will be created.

Manufacturing: following market demand

As bad as automation can be for some jobs, it can also be good for others. ?For example, according to Nancy Pfund from DBL Partners, when GM closed their manufacturing plant in northern California in 2010, five thousand jobs evaporated. This had a massive trickle down impact on the local economy.

At the same time this was happening, Tesla was looking for a location for their first manufacturing plant. Many investors urged them to go to China. Investors warned against opening a plant in over-regulated California. But Tesla had a different vision. They wanted their manufacturing to be close to their headquarters in Silicon Valley. And they wanted to keep the jobs in the U.S. So they worked with sustainable investors and the local government to retro-fit the old GM plant. The result: 10,000 jobs were created.

Think about that impact. 5,000 jobs were lost but 10,000 new jobs were created. This happened because Tesla filled a need in the marketplace and consumers made their voice heard. Those 10,000 jobs could have gone to China. Instead, you now have Silicon Valley employees working hand-in-hand with employees from Freemont, CA and Sparks, NV.

This does not need to be a red state / blue state issue. This is about working together to address a new market need and create new jobs in the U.S.

Impact investors will have an important role to play in the new economy. The smartest impact investors will address social cycles that have unmet needs. The GM plant was going away. There was no demand for that product. The new demand was for Tesla. As investors, we can help these companies succeed.

Farming: disrupting the old guard

The global food system, including agriculture, fertilizer manufacturing, and food storage and packaging, accounts for over 25% of green-house gas emissions. Some of the largest companies, like John Deer, Monstano and ConAgra, were formed in the late 19th?and early 20th centuries. (19th century!).?This is a sector that is ripe for disruption.

There are innovative companies that are paving a new future by addressing uneven access to automation.

There is a company called Farmers Business Network, for example, that is bringing transparency and insight to the true value creators: the farmers. Years ago, transponders and sensors were placed on tractors and seed equipment so that seed growers and other suppliers could monitor demand. Not only was this data kept from the farmers, it was used against them. The result: some farmers were paying 30% more for seeds than were the farmers down the road.

Farmers Business Network aggregates and anonymizes data, then gives this data back to farmers so that they can better manage their costs.

This is a great example of using automation to develop a platform company that disrupts the data holders and brings more transparency to the market.? By removing the middlemen, they have democratized the data and made the entire process more efficient.

Coding: the next big blue collar job

There are 530,000 unfilled coding jobs in the U.S. This number is expected to grow to 1.4 million by 2020. That?s right. Not even outsourcing can keep pace. What?s more, offshore outsourcing is now becoming more expensive.

Innovative companies are addressing the need head-on and giving back to the community at the same time.?Techtonic Group, a full stack development consultancy in Boulder, Colorado, was once a committed offshore outsourcer. A few years ago, they made the decision to develop local talent instead. They are transforming lives in the process.

Techtonic was given the first ever the government-recognized technology apprenticeship program in Colorado. They provide underprivileged youth, minorities and veterans technical training and mentorship to become entry-level software engineers.? These candidates get paid to learn to code as part of the apprenticeship program. They are then placed on real client projects and land jobs earning $65,000 – $85,000 per year. Conscious capitalism is part of their DNA. They are addressing a need while at the same time doing good things for our community. CEO Heather Terenzio believes it?s time to invest in local resources. Time for code to replace coal.

Why the future of work matters

Here are a few big world questions to think about:

  • If we automate away millions of jobs, who will buy all the stuff that companies produce?
  • If we don?t train our population for the skills of the future, what will happen to these communities?
  • If we allow the heroin epidemic to go unchecked, what impact will it have on us all?

These problems will come to everyone?s front door one way or another. Think about the increased need for public services alone (police, healthcare, food stamps, housing assistance). ?Solving these problems before they snowball isn?t just the right thing to do, it?s the smart money thing to do.

What you can do to protect your financial future

There are things you and your family can do to prepare for the new economy. In fact, each one of us can help address the big world challenges in a way that will also make us more financially and physically secure. Here are a few strategies:

  • Invest in yourself. The new economy is coming. Don?t be left behind. Invest in learning a new skill like software coding. If you don?t have the money to pay for a coding bootcamp, there are other options. Check out how this unique company is using an old-world apprenticeship model to train works for the new economy. That?s right, you can get paid to learn to code.
  • Invest in your financial future while solving big world problems at the same time. You can now become an active impact investor without shelling out big institutional money. It used to be that you had to have $2,500, $5,000 or even $100,000 to get into impact investing. Not anymore. There are consumer platforms and low-cost investment vehicles that let you make an impact for as little as $50. These are investments, not charity. That?s beneficial for you as an individual and the world.
  • Don?t live beyond your means. Yes, we realize this obvious. But the reality is that many of us forget. And that?s ok. We just need to keep reminding ourselves that there are only two levers: money coming in and money going out. If you increase the former and decrease the latter, you will set yourself up for a brighter financial future. Check out more good money ideas for earning, spending and saving.
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Forget Black Friday. Let?s Make Green Friday a Thing.

This holiday season, vote with your wallet

Here?s a challenge. If you?re planning on gifts for the holidays, consider buying from sustainable brands.

Instead of amassing loads of stuff that eventually ends up in our oceans and landfills, why not get thoughtful gifts that do good for People and Planet?

We found a great company in Boulder, Colorado called EarthHero.?They are an eco-friendly marketplace with almost 1,000 sustainable products. They offer unique gifts under $40.

They are giving our and Well Wallet communities?$20 off your first order.

Ryan Lewis, CEO of EarthHero, says his big vision is to, ?make sustainable shopping and living so commonplace, that everybody does it. There is no alternative. It simply becomes the new norm.?

What kinds of products can I get?

You can find products in almost any category. They have 1,000 products to date and are adding more every week. Here are just a few.

  1. Sustainable electronics. Yes, this actually exists. At EarthHero, you can get sustainable bluetooth speakers and earbuds.
  2. Eco Apparel for men, women, kids and baby made from organic, recycled and renewable content.
  3. Unique products like Bee?s Wrap. With this product, you never have to buy aluminum foil or plastic wrap again. It lasts up to a year, after which you can compost it.
  4. A travel backpack made from recycled water bottles. It collapses into a pouch that you can literally hold in your hand. Great for computers, hiking, and travel. And it?s only 25 bucks.
  5. Wallets made out of old sailboat sails.
  6. Bamboo and cork phone cases.
  7. …and 1,000 more ideas.

What makes these products sustainable?

EarthHero selects their brands based on a rigorous vetting process. They look at 3 things:

  1. The material make-up. They seek brands that use recycled, organic and renewable materials like bamboo, cork and hemp. There?s a lot of plastic out there. EarthHero looks for products that can use this recycled content.
  2. How they treat people.?They look for Fair Trade and other certifications that prove the brand?s commitment to treating people well. This is important to them.
  3. How they give back.?They look for brands that generate sustainability outside of their own company. For example, they have a sunglasses company that restores vision for someone in a developing country, for every pair of sunglasses they sell.

In all, they look for companies that have a shared ethos. They want people who have built companies with the intention to do good in the world.

This holiday, give meaningful gifts that are good for your planet and your wallet. Check out EarthHero and get $20 off your first order.