Tag: conscious capitalism

Ten Quick Ways To Make Money While Helping The Planet

How to have positive impact while growing your wallet?

Do you want to make the world a better place but feel too busy, broke or tired to make a difference? It’s understandable. How can we possibly help our communities and the planet when we barely have enough time for ourselves?

Here’s the good news: now you can make money while helping the planet. We’ve gathered 10 impact ideas that only take a few minutes to set up. Now you can give your money meaning while growing your wallet.

One of our goals is to get 250K people to take at least one of these actions listed below. Imagine the positive impact we would generate for our communities and the environment?

Take action to transform our economy into a force for good (and make money doing it.)

1 – Switch to a Green Account that Pays

Sick of bank fees, ATM fees and checking accounts that use your money and pay you nothing? Sick of banks that fund destructive fossil fuel projects? Switch to a green account that pays up to 2.00% APY interest, has zero fees ever, free ATMs worldwide, and does not use its customers deposits to fund oil projects or campaign contributions. Aspiration’s Spend & Save account gives you more, and gives back to the planet and its people .Learn MoreGet Started

2 – Invest Responsibly in Your Future

Join Swell and start impact investing. Put in $50 and Swell will match it with another $50. That’s free money. Use code: WELLWALLET. Invest in high growth companies solving the world’s biggest challenges. Choose your portfolio mix: green tech, renewable energy, zero waste, healthy living, clean water, and more.
Learn MoreGet Started

WealthSimple (US, UK and Canada residents) offers socially responsible investment portfolios in companies that help lower carbon emissions, promote diversity and invest in clean technology. Some of you have asked for options outside of the United States. Here they are!
Learn MoreGet Started

3 – Shop Sustainable Brands

At EarthHero, an eco-friendly marketplace. Get $20 off your $60 purchase. EarthHero’s rigorous vetting process selects the most sustainable companies across apparel, accessories, beauty, travel, electronics and more. Your shopping choices create change. Learn MoreGet Started

4 – Switch your Power Bill to a Clean Energy Bill

With Arcadia Power. Sign up and get $20 off your next power bill. It takes 5 minutes to transform your energy bill into a clean energy bill that uses renewable energy. Learn MoreGet Started

5 – Declutter your Life, Help the Planet and Make Money.

Get paid to recycle your old electronics, CDs, DVDs, books and even Legos. Use Decluttr to clean up your home, make money, and limit waste to landfills (electronics are upcycled and resold). No auction fees, next day payments, price promise and free shipping. Learn MoreGet Started

6 – Earn $924 a Month and Give your Empty Room a Job

Airbnb is the perfect side gig to bring in extra cash, promote global trust through people-to-people connections, and reduce the global carbon footprint by sharing extra space in your home. The average Airbnb host makes $924 for hosting a few days per month. Learn MoreGet Started

7 – Save 25% on your Monthly Bills in Minutes.

Billshark has an 85% success rate in negotiating lower bills for cable, phone, internet, satellite T.V., satellite radio, and home security. They donate an hour to teach kids financial literacy for every bill they negotiate. Learn MoreGet Started

8 – Donate to your Favorite Charity with Every Purchase.

32% of Americans let their credit card points expire. That?s $16 billion a year back in the pockets of the credit card companies. The Charity Charge Card lets you automatically donate your 1% cash back to your favorite non profits. No annual fee, tax deductible, and MasterCard benefits. Transform your rewards into positive impact. Learn MoreGet Started

9 – Create Passive Income from your Largest Asset while Helping People.

Baby boomers can make money from their biggest asset (their home) while building meaningful relationships. Silvernest is an easy and safe homesharing service with a unique matching tool designed to help older Americans age in place. Learn MoreGet Started

10 – Get Paid to Save Energy

If you live in California or Toronto, connect your utility company and get paid to save energy with OhmConnect. Get $10 when you sign up.
Learn MoreGet Started

Related content: Forget Retirement – Here’s Why You Need to Start Investing Now

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6 Conscious Companies that Help You Make and Save Money

6 Conscious Companies that Help You Make and Save Money

It?s easy to think of business and only think of profits. But some companies care about more than money. They care about the environment. They care about the people living on this planet. Some of them even care about both. But the most innovative companies are the ones that do social good and save customers money. Here are six conscious companies that you can trust to do both.

1. Spend and Save with a company that puts you and the planet first

When you put 10% of your paycheck into your savings account (like the savvy saver we know you are 😉 ), traditional banks could invest that money into things that you?ve never even heard of. Or, even worse, into things that are working against you and your conscience.

Aspiration is different. They are a banking alternative that offers high-interest banking services (200x more interest than the big banks), allows you to pick your management fee (even if it?s zero), refunds all ATM fees worldwide, and tells you exactly where your deposits are going.

Aspiration are a fossil fuel free company that cares about the future of our planet. Now you can feel good about where your money is going. This means you are empowered to vote with your dollars. Try finding that at a traditional bank. So if you want to divorce your bank and start voting with your dollars, check out our in-depth review of Aspiration* here?here.

Related: We Found An Amazing Account

2.?Invest with the good guys

Have you been looking to get into impact investing but don’t know where to start? We know that investing can be good for our wallets, especially over the long term. But information overload is a real thing. Swell Investing makes investing easy by placing your money?in high growth companies that are solving the biggest challenges facing our planet. Swell gives you six impact portfolio ?themes? to choose from:

  • Green Tech
  • Renewable Energy
  • Zero Waste
  • Clean Water
  • Disease Eradication
  • Healthy Living

That means you are investing in your future and the future of the planet. Four of these six have outperformed the S&P 500 from September 2016 to September 2017. We did an in-depth review of their services. The best part? You only need $50 to get started. Investing with Swell is a great way to invest in both your financial and our planetary future. That sounds pretty swell, doesn’t it?

Related: Start Impact Investing for as Little as $50

3. Save money with clean energy

Living in Boulder, Colorado, I know how expensive rent can be. Arcadia Power helps make it easier to pay for mountain views by lowering your utility bills. How do they do it? They identify ways for you to get the best deals on energy in your area with their Price Alerts service. They also switch some of your power to clean energy sources. You don’t have to install pricey solar panels or even own your home. All you need to do is link your utility bill to Arcadia, and they take care of the rest. It took 5 minutes to set up.

They offer both free and premium services, so they are accessible for everyone. (Even those of us living on a college budget). If you switch 50% of your utility bill to Arcadia, the service is free. You just keep paying your energy bill the way you normally would. If you switch your bill to 100% renewable energy, they add $0.015 per kilowatt hour.?They will even give you $20 credit on your next power bill just for signing up.?Arcadia is a great way to switch to clean energy and save money on your monthly utility bill.

Related: Switch to Clean Energy without Pricey Solar Panels

4. Get smart about your money

Even though I’m not “credit savvy”, I pay attention to my credit score. I?ll pay attention to any number that could impact my bank payments or even my job prospects. If you want a good interest rate on your loans or a good credit card deal, your credit score is first thing you need to know.

Credit Sesame offers free credit score reports, identity theft protection, and personal tips to help you manage your finances and increase your score. Their benefits are valuable for those who obsessively check their credit score, or for those who don?t want their credit score to impact their ability to get low interest rates on loans or land a job.

Credit Sesame is conscious about the impact a company like them can have on your personal finances, and you can sign up for their services?for free. They have helped millions of people reduce their debt and increase their financial literacy. If you want to become financially savvy in a way that is not scary or intimidating, Credit Sesame is a company that could help you.

Related: Know Your FICO – A Guide to Understanding Your Credit Score

5. Forget Amazon. Shop this eco-friendly marketplace.

Earth Hero is an online marketplace that offers sustainably sourced products from companies that give back to people and planet. For example, SOLO Sunglasses?restores one person’s vision in a developing country for each pair of sunglasses they sell. How cool is that?

Earth Hero?products range from sustainably sourced headphones to wallets made of old sailboat sails. Even better, if you browse their site and find something you like, you can get $20 off your first order. This is a great place to find unique gifts for the important people in your life while remaining conscious of your environmental impact.

Related: How This Social Start-up is Changing the Way We Shop

6. Feel good about paying off your credit card debt

If you are carrying credit card debt, you can?save money by consolidating?to a much lower interest rate via a personal loan.?Payoff is a company based in California that is taking a different approach to personal loans. They hired a team of financial professionals, psychologists, data scientists and technology experts to help people reach financial wellness.?They are known for their excellent customer service and unique approach. Another thing we like about them: their partners. Their loans are originated by a marketplace of credit unions and industrial banks. In other words, no big banks.

In short: do well and do good.

All of these companies are great choices for people who want to put money back in their pockets and make their money matter. By spending money with these companies you can become an impact investor who creates value and drives change. Check these companies out, and join a growing community of conscious consumers who care about the differences they make with every purchase.


*The Annual Percentage Yield ?(?APY?) associated with the Aspiration Summit Account is variable and accurate as of [January 2019]. Rates may be changed from time to time without notice.

Based on a comparison of Aspiration’s up to 2.00% APY interest rate to the following checking account interest rates reported by Bankrate for January, 2019: Wells Fargo (0.01% APY), Chase Bank (0.01% APY) and Bank of America (0.01% APY).

All ATM withdrawal fees will be waived for your Aspiration Summit Account. In addition, your account will automatically be reimbursed for all ATM fees charged by other institutions while using an Aspiration Debit Card linked to your account at any ATM displaying the Mastercard?, Interlink?, Cirrus?, or Maestro? logos. The reimbursement will be credited to the account the same day the ATM fee is debited from the account. Please note, there is a foreign transaction fee of one percent that is not waived, which will be included in the amount charged to your account.

Aspiration Partners, Inc. and its affiliates are committed ?to “All Extra Services Provided at Cost,” meaning that we’ll only charge you what it costs us to provide the extra service (such as a wire transfer), and not a penny more. Besides these at-cost service charges, the only account fee you pay is the fee you choose, even if it?s $0, which is why we call it Pay What Is Fair.

The Aspiration Summit Account provides customers with the ability to see Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) People and Planet scores on a range of merchants where they shop using the Aspiration Debit Card. These scores are determined using a proprietary algorithm that incorporates several measures of sustainability performance. For more information, please click here.

Deposits are insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per depositor. For more information about FDIC insurance coverage, please visit the FDIC website.

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Why Salary Transparency Improves the Workplace (and how to do it)

Talking about money can feel super uncomfortable. Imagine how awkward it would feel to ask a co-worker how much they make. The conversation becomes even more risky when you consider that 23% of companies ban discussion of salary and 38% discourage it.

Yet salary transparency is growing in popularity. More people are sharing compensation details with each other. Resources like Glassdoor, Salary.com and PayScale.com have further legitimized salary transparency.

Believe it or not, this could actually be a good thing.?Salary transparency can improve your workplace in four ways:

  1. Increases your negotiation leverage
  2. Decreases the gender and race pay gap
  3. Forces better HR practices
  4. Increases engagement (i.e. you’ll like your job more)

1. Transparency improves your negotiating power

Before you joined your company, salary consideration was likely near the top of your list. Were you terrified of asking for more than what was offered? You are not alone. Turns out that many groups, like the majority of women and people in technical fields (e.g. engineers), don’t feel comfortable talking about salary.

Or maybe you really needed the job and didn’t want to rock the boat by asking for more. If you fall into these buckets, you could benefit the most from salary transparency.

One of the reasons companies have the upper hand in salary negotiations is that they know what everyone in the company is paid. They have an idea of what?s fair. But you don?t. A tech startup isn?t going to pay the same rate as Google. You may think you?re getting a great deal, but you have no frame of reference. Even resources like Glassdoor and Salary.com are far from perfect.

Salary transparency improves your ability to negotiate a better salary …or it might not. Remember, salary transparency works both ways. If you’re looking for a big jump in salary and it’s out of the published range, you’re going to have to make a very strong case.

Related: 3 Unconventional Strategies That Get You Promoted

2. It helps close the pay gap

No matter how you feel about the gender pay gap, it?s real and observable. In fact, the breakdowns of gender pay by race and state are staggering and symptomatic of more complex societal issues. There are steps we can take steps to close this gap.

Dane Atkinson of SumAll practices extreme salary transparency. He makes all employee salaries public for anyone to see.

?Salary transparency is the single best protection against gender bias, racial bias or orientation bias.??~ Dane Atkinson, Founder, SumAll

Salary transparency lets everyone know what their company thinks their contribution is worth. What would happen if the entire office learned that the women were paid less than the men? Suddenly, there is hard data that cannot be denied. If your office culture lends itself to seeking this kind of transparency, it can create a more equitable and trustworthy culture. Even if your office decides not to do it, now you know the kind of office you?re working in.

So.. why did he get that salary anyway?

Chart of Salary-Negotiations-Men-Women

89% of companies set aside funds for salary negotiations. And yet, only 30% of women even bother to negotiate.

Pay differences are of course oftentimes justified. Top performers deserve top salaries. If you’ve exceeded performance expectations, pay differences make sense.

But that’s not the only reason why people have higher salaries. As it turns out, many companies adopt an art over science approach when it comes to compensation. Unfortunately, that can result in compensation imbalances.

For example, studies show that men are significantly more likely to engage in salary negotiations. That alone can widen the pay gap.

Related: How to Have a Better Negotiation with your Boss

3. Salary transparency forces HR to be really good

Every company tracks their employees’ salaries. But not all of them track why those salaries are what they are. If your entire office knows everyone’s pay, everyone will know when those pay rates change. HR will have to make sure that the reasons for those changes are sound. Your collective knowledge makes management accountable to all of you.

Managing compensation is one of HR?s most important responsibilities. If you think talking about it is hard, imagine trying to justify a pay gap of $20,000 between two employees in a similar role.? Transparency creates incentives for HR and management to work together to determine salaries fairly.

4. …it also increases trust and engagement

Think about it. What kind of company would you trust more: one where salaries (or salary ranges) were made public or kept secret? If everyone was on the same page regarding what it takes to make it to a certain position with a certain salary, then everyone (employees and the company) would be more accountable to each other.

That being said…read your employee handbook

Some of you are at companies that forbid or discourage disclosing your pay.?You should be familiar with your company’s policy and the consequences of violating those policies. If salary transparency is that important of an issue for you, consult your HR handbook, your HR team, or a labor relations professional, and decide how far you want to go with it.

Related: How to Find Purpose in Your Job

These companies made it work

Salary transparency may sound radical, but there are companies putting this in place right now. There’s early evidence that salary transparency is associated with higher work performance, which your boss should absolutely love. Even big companies are adopting this model. Whole Foods believes salary transparency improves the workplace so much that they’ve had this policy in place since 1986.

Members of the startup community have also reaped the benefits of salary transparency. Namaste Solar?is a solar energy company in Boulder, CO that began with an employee-owned co-op model. Not only are salary ranges transparent, but employees also get equal voting rights on issues as important as board member placements. The result? They are one of the only profitable solar companies in the country, and they’ve been around for 13 years.?Namaste’s founder, Blake Jones, has credited his company’s success to that high level of transparency.

There’s something to be said for Namaste’s success and the trust that seems to have been built into the company’s culture via this level of transparency.

Related: Three keys to success from the founder of the Container Store

Try it out… just be skillful.

One of the biggest fears people have when they even think about talking about salary? Reactions from co-workers. One of my old professors said it best when she said ?people don?t ask why you?re making that much money. They?re asking why they?re not making that much money.?

But before you march into HR or your boss’ office:

  1. Do your research. Find out the pay range for your role and your geography using the online resources in this article. Keep in mind: location makes a big difference.
  2. Try bringing up salary with a few people you trust. If they are co-workers, read your employee handbook first.
  3. Don’t forget to count benefits when comparing to others. That bonus pool, healthcare package and free gym membership are worth something.
  4. Make sure your own contribution is up to par before asking for more. Build your case.

A lot of times, you?ll find that pay differences are justified. Most companies don?t mean to sow discontent with their pay policies. But if you find something is off, discuss it with your superiors. Just be sure to do it in a skillful way. Learning how advocate for yourself and, by extension, the good of the company is one of the best skills you can master.


 

?Photo by?Alexis Brown?

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The Problem With Growth Economics: Time For A New Model

The Problem With Growth Economics

Every economist in the world is taught the Circular Flow of Goods and Money theory. According to Oxford Economist, Kate Raworth, this diagram is at the heart of macroeconomic analysis and is the basis for measuring economic growth. But there is a problem with growth economics.

Circular diagram showing the flow of goods and money between firms and households

The flow of goods and money creates a self-reinforcing relationship between households and firms.

Basically, the concept goes something like this:

  1. Households give labor and capital to firms.
  2. Firms, in turn, pay wages and dividends to households.
  3. Households then make decisions about where to spend.
  4. Firms sell goods and services to households.
  5. And the cycle repeats.

What’s Wrong with this Picture

Raworth argues that this diagram is fundamentally flawed. Outside of the fact that it disregards the wild speculation and creation of money by the financial sector, it also fails to consider taxes and austerity represented by government regulation. This economic model has 4 fundamental flaws.

  1. Ignores the environment completely, even though?the economy is deeply embedded in the environment. It draws resources and energy from the sun and planet, and spits out waste and pollution.?
  2. Ignores unpaid work.?This includes many parents who are raising the next generation of workers. The necessary non-monetized activities within the household are not taken into account at all.
  3. Ignores collaboration and the trading of services that are not monetized. Beyond trading favors with friends, the power of the collaborative commons?and open source platforms is one of the most dynamic and disruptive forces of today’s economy.
  4. Ignores the accumulation of wealth by the few, which rapidly turns into power over the economy itself.

Most of us think of the economy as something inaccessible, disconnected and separate from us.?Raworth believes that it absolutely isn’t. In fact, we are all economists and we have more power than we think we do.?Since we can’t run away from economics, Raworth challenges us to run towards it. What if we could re-imagine these long-held concepts, and mold them into something new?

Related: The Future of Work and Why it Matters

What if the economic model did not start with money, but with human well-being?

While much of the responsibility for human well-being lies with humans themselves, human well-being is inextricable from the well-being of the planet. The planet is completely ignored in the traditional map of economics. And it shouldn’t be. So what kind of economics does the 21st Century need? Raworth encourages us to search for answers to that question by suggesting?7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist in her book Doughnut Economics.

1. Change The Goal

The current economic theory does not address whether an economy could grow forever?or should grow forever. Clearly, it’s natural to grow, but anything that is organic grows, matures and dies. If our aim is to design economies that are distributive and regenerative, what does that mean for growth? We need to overcome these addictions to growth and create an economy that can “meet the needs of all within the means of this planet.”

Anything that grows forever becomes a cancer and destroys the very system upon which it depends.

2. Change The Narrative

What are the stories we tell? What language do we use when we discuss the economy? One powerful way to change the narrative is to speak the narrative you believe in.?The more people who speak about “prosperity” rather than “growth,” who talk about “distributive and regenerative design” rather than “GDP,” the quicker journalists and politicians will pick up on this language. Language is a very powerful leverage point for change. Current economic understanding shapes the language that everyone is using and, currently, we all feel that we are serving finance. Finance should serve humans, not the other way around.?

It’s time to ditch this outdated neo-liberal script. We need a new economic story that’s fit for the tale of the 21st century.

3. Change How We View Ourselves

Who does the economy tell us we are? To fit humans into their theories, economists developed “rational economic man,” or Homo-economicus, a somewhat isolated, selfish, and materialistic pioneer who plunders nature for his own self-interest. He wants the most luxuries for the least amount of labor or expense. It’s time for a new sketch of humanity at the core of economics which does not disregard our propensity for empathy, cooperation, caring and mutual aid.? We also need to admit that humans are far from being dominant over nature, but are rather critically dependent upon her.

Far from being dominant over nature, we are deeply dependent on her.

4. Get Savvy With Systems

In the 1850s, a bunch of economists wanted to make economics as beautiful as physics. Inspired by Newton’s laws of motion, they searched for economic laws that could describe the movement of markets. But by trying to turn their theories into math, they ended up with models based on equilibrium. The 2008 crash proved that equilibrium is not a very good way of describing markets. Rather than envying the equilibrium of physics, we should embrace the complexity and messiness of economics. Instead of trying to engineer economics, we should observe it through a systems-thinking lens, and behave more like gardeners who tend to it and shape it as it evolves.

Rather than trying to engineer economics, we should approach their dynamic complexity like gardeners who tend to them and shape them as they evolve.

5. Design To Distribute

There is this erroneous belief that inequality has to rise before it falls, that things need to get worse before they get better, and that growth will solve all once things ?trickle down.? Rising inequality is not a phase in a country’s progress, but a policy choice. It is a failure of economic design. We shouldn’t wait for economic growth to even things out because it will never happen. We need to design an economy to be distributive by design because things don’t trickle down. Inequality spirals. We need to think about the distributive ownership of wealth, (not just income.) For example, employee-owned companies, community-owned renewable energy projects, and ideas in the creative commons rather than held copyrights.

Rising inequality is not a mere “phase” in a country’s progress, but a policy choice.

6. Move From Degenerative to Regenerative Design

For two centuries our industrial activity has been based on degenerative design. We take from the earth, make a thing, use it for a bit and then toss it, damaging earth’s life support systems on which we all depend. Current economic theory tells us not to worry because more growth will allow nations to clean things up. But this is false. Just look at what is happening to our oceans and ecosystems. Growth won’t clean things up. Creating economies that are regenerative by design rather than degenerative by default is where we should focus.

We need to design an economy where things are never used up, but are rather used again and again.

Related: Why this Solar Company Founder is Starting a Credit Union

7. Move From Growth Addicted to Growth Agnostic

GDP growth became the primary overriding policy in the 20th century. Growth at any and all costs became the primary focus of government, business, and the financial markets. And they all depended upon it never ceasing. Politicians create their mantras around all types of growth, framing economies that need to grow whether or not they allow us to thrive. Conversely, we need economies that allow us to thrive whether or not they grow. Economies need to be able to flex as the GDP changes – sometimes up, sometimes down.

Economies need to work with, not against, the cycles of the living world.

Related: How Crickets and Buildings can Save the World

The Big Picture

The etymology of the word “economy” can be traced back to the ancient Greek word “oikonomos” for “household management.” Later, the term evolved to refer to the management of a town. Then a city-state. Over 2000 years later, a country. It’s now time to move the term one step further. We need to think about the economy of the planet. For the planet is our household. If we do not take the steps necessary to manage our household, we will lose her.

The Doughnut of Social and Planetary Boundaries

The outer circumference of Kate Raworth’s Doughnut represents the ecological ceiling of 9 planetary boundaries originally laid out by?Rockstrom et al.?Should humanity push past these boundaries, we will degrade the earth’s systems. These 9 planetary boundaries are on the outside of the doughnut and represent an ecological ceiling that we must not breach.

The inner circumference of the Doughnut represents the social foundation of humanity. Within this circumference lie 12 dimensions of the social foundation derived from the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed upon by the world’s governments and set by the UN in 2015.

Between social and planetary boundaries lies an environmentally safe and socially just space in which humanity can thrive.

Raworth does not presume that the Doughnut itself is a solution. While it “sets a vision for an equitable and sustainable future, it is silent on the possible pathways for getting there, and so the doughnut acts as a convening space for debating alternative pathways forward.”

We are all affected by, and inextricably a part of, the economy. Raworth admits that her doughnut theory is constantly evolving, and debate is necessary to develop a new paradigm of economic theory for all. Her research is “focused on exploring what planetary and social boundaries imply for rethinking the concept of economic development. Is it growth or post-growth? How should we measure economic progress?” She invites us all to join the discussion.


This article was derived from an interview with Kate Raworth, researcher at Oxford, Oxfam, Senior Associate of Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership, and author of the book Doughnut Economics. For more interviews like this and other videos, check out the Prosperity Roadmap.

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Create Impact with a Unique Ethical Engagement Ring

The craziest part of graduation isn?t finding my life?s direction or figuring out how to make my freelance writing business works. It?s scrolling down my Facebook feed and seeing all of my friends in hidden-camera proposal pictures. All those pictures are precious, but some of them have dark backstories. It?s (usually) got nothing to do with the couple… and everything to do with the ring.

The beautiful diamonds that make the ring ? and the proposal pictures ? don’t always come from the best places. In the worst cases, paramilitary factions own mines that use slave labor to mine precious stones to fund illicit goals. Although world leaders have stepped forward to fight the blood diamond trade, diamond mines also have a massive ecological and environmental impact.

Which means… you don?t just want an engagement ring. You want a unique ethical engagement ring. There are ways to avoid companies that aren’t transparent about their diamond sources or the mine’s environmental impact. Here are three options:

  1. Buy from companies that offer ethically sourced diamonds
  2. Consider a lab-created diamond
  3. Forgo the diamond (not the ring)

Good Jewelers Despise Blood Diamonds

Many jewelers hate blood diamonds enough to be transparent about their sources of your unique ethical engagement ring. Vrai & Oro was founded in 2014 and is committed to ethically sourcing diamonds. Vrai & Oro is also committed to lower prices.

Their website outlines the steps they take to lower the typical markup that customers traditionally pay. Vrai & Oro jewelry is made in downtown LA, so they save import costs and know the exact source of their diamonds. Buying from them gives you transparency, ethical sourcing, and potentially lower prices than a traditional jeweler.

Today, the blood diamond trade is far less of a problem than it was even in the 2000s. In 2003, the UN ratified a piece of legislation called the Kimberly Process. The Kimberly Process requires jewelers to certify that their diamonds are conflict-free and have that certification ready and available. It also includes a monitoring process to ensure that any certified company maintains those ethical sourcing standards. Blood diamonds aren?t gone, but world leaders have taken steps towards ending the blood diamond trade and we must remain vigilant to ensure it remains that way.

Related: 4 Ways to Make Good Money with Good Companies

Diamonds can be Lab-Grown

Ethical diamond sourcing isn?t just about importing from mines across the world. Diamonds can be grown in labs.

Seriously.

A diamond in a mine is formed when?carbon is pressurized and heated in extreme conditions. A modern lab can simulate those same conditions in more accessible settings. So, instead of taking hundreds, thousands, or millions of years to form, synthetic diamonds only take a few weeks or months, depending on the lab. That?s one less giant hole in the ground and far less mining equipment puffing greenhouse gas into the air.

Do Amore is a startup in Houston whose synthetic diamond sales make up about “30% of their gemstone sales.” The founder, Krish Himmatramka, said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle that the synthetics are “just as good [as natural diamonds…] and more cost-effective.”? In addition, this company also uses some money from each sale to provide water for communities in developing countries.

Check your local jeweler and see whether they offer synthetic diamonds. A ?synthetic? diamond may not sound like the unique ethical engagement ring of your dreams, but many synthetics are similar in quality to real diamonds and don?t have the negative environmental impact that a real one does.

Related: 4 Ways to Make Real Money with Sustainable Investing

And the Radical Subhead ? Do you need a Diamond?

Alright, hear me out. This won’t be the option for everyone. But you must face the harsh reality that diamond rings can be uncomfortable. I know three moms who don?t wear their diamond rings anymore because they interfere with the small joys of parenthood – like hugging their children.

If you?re a practical couple, then you can get an engraved band instead of a scratchy diamond ring. It?s completely up to you. If you want the diamond for your unique ethical engagement ring, there are some great options out there. But if you don?t need the diamond, your decision just became is a lot simpler… and potentially more creative.

Related: Why We Can’t Save

A Dash of Realism

You?re not a bad person for buying a diamond ring. This is not that type of article. Think of these other options as ways that make your purchase matter to people beyond you and your beloved. The more we bring these types of stories to light, the fewer blood diamonds we’ll have in circulation. Plus, buying lab-grown diamonds will decrease the environmental impact that the diamond industry has on the environment. Or forgo the diamond altogether for a more comfortable and creative option that holds even more meaning.

A diamond engagement ring is an expensive purchase, but while you?re putting so much effort into finding the unique ethical engagement ring of your dreams, you can make a real difference with your choice.


Photo by?Jeremy Bishop

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What Holds our Interest Defines our World

Who is Capturing Your Interest?

The word interest is …interesting. There are two definitions:

  1. State of wanting to know or learn about something or someone.
    ?He looked around with interest?
  2. Money paid regularly at a particular rate for the use of money lent, or for delaying the repayment of a debt. “He’s paying 17% interest on his loan.”

If you really think about it, these definitions are more connected that they seem. Why? Because the way we use our money is an expression of who we are.? It is true that what we appreciate, appreciates. Spending time with our kids, putting in the hours to grow a business or volunteering at our favorite charity amplifies all of those aspects of our lives.? And guess what? The interest we give to banks has similar power.

How Banks Use Your Interest

When you place your money in a bank account, it doesn?t just sit there. The bank uses your money by lending it out to others. They make money from lending out YOUR money. And you may not always like where they put it. Some banks invest in things like private prisons and fossil fuels, or engage in shady business practices that hurt customers or communities. ?By the way, the same goes for the interest you pay on your loans.

So… How Much Money are we Talking About?

How big is the impact of your financial interest on the world? In 2017:

  • Global companies borrowed more than?$3.74 trillion dollars?to expand their businesses. Where do banks get the money they lend out to companies? You guessed it: from your deposits.
  • U.S. household debt reached $13 trillion dollars. The banks make money from the interest you pay on your loans, mortgage and credit cards. The average U.S. household paid almost $1,000 of interest just on their credit card balances.

Use Your Money To Express Your Deepest Self

Think about where you put your interest. Money has power. It is a mirror of who you are. It is an instrument that can help you evolve your own view of the world.?When you align your financial life with what you stand for, you will feel truly prosperous.

Start Small for Big Impact

This doesn’t need to be a huge overhaul. You can take small steps toward lining up your existing money (cash, loans, credit cards and investments) with institutions that share your evolving worldview.

No matter how much money you have, you have power to express your deepest self by the way that your money moves in the world.?Take your first step.?Check out these resources:

Wanna Change the World? Change Your Bank

Green Banking: We Found an Amazing Checking Account

4 Ways to make Real Money with Sustainable Investing

Divorce Your Bank in 8 Simple Steps

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