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NEW: The IRS "Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft" describes what tax-related identity theft is, how it happens, and what to do about it. It also links to a list of state tax agencies' websites.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

"Greenpeace ranks 17 leading consumer electronics companies based on sustainability"

New York Times op-ed on climate change provides a number of positive actions, but says by far the most effective thing an individual can do is fulfill their transportation needs in a fuel-efficient vehicle. United States drivers have a disproportionate effect on global warming, due to the number of miles driven and poor average miles per gallon of its cars, but have a wide variety of new vehicle options that do much better.

Google Transparency Report: check on safe browsing status of a website

The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment Network of investors working on public policy and education on such things as divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in more sustainable energy.

What's Green with Betsy "Simple Steps That Make a Difference" to help the environment

U.S. Department of Labor's List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor

Visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for help enforcing laws that protect consumers, monitoring financial markets, understanding mortgage disclosure laws, researching consumer behavior, etc.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: "Tracking the positive and negative impacts of over 5100 companies worldwide"

Featured products and services

Be cautious about ceramic cookware, such as crockpots

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says 15% of ceramics tested have lead and/or cadmium contamination. "Emphasis should be placed on those items designed to hold liquid foods."

See also: npr.org report

Tech companies Tesla, Blue Apron, and Amazon accused of working conditions that sacrifice worker well-being for profit

Tesla was accused of racism, "excessive mandatory overtime", and constant pressure to work faster. "In 2015, Blue Apron appeared to violate a litany of OSHA regulations, ranging from wiring to chemical storage", which it claims to have quickly rectified. Amazon warehouse employees say hours are long, breaks few, and fulfillment demands high.

Basic web design, maintenance, writing and editing by Hilde Jones, founder of ResponsibleConsumer.net. Initial consultation free. Usual fee $30 per hour; special circumstances may be negotiated. Photography, artwork, sound recordings not in public domain to be supplied by client or outsourced.

Good and Cheap food: a cookbook developed to meet nutritional needs for people on food stamps, but with great ideas for all budgets. Emphasizes fruits and vegetables, innovative variations, and frugality that allows for a bit of luxury along with a lot of fun and great eating. The entire book is free online. To enlarge text, hold down the ctrl key while pressing the plus key.

Green America's National Green Pages: Special offers on green gifts

Animal-friendly products and companies: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals "Proggy" award recipients.

Games, dolls, puppets from Taraluna: Socially responsible toys, gifts for children


Paintings and prints by Marlene Bell

Socially Responsible Investing

Opportunities for Ethical Investing

Mutual Fund Performance Chart: A truly comprehensive yet concise chart of 204 funds from the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. Includes environmental, human rights, and animal welfare in issues. There are tabs at the top of the chart for Financial Performance, Screening & Advocacy, Proxy Voting, and Account Minimums. Each tab includes a wealth of well organized and easily acessible information. For example, The Screening & Advocacy tab has headings for Environment, Social, Governance, and Products. Each of those headings has a column for specific categories, and hovering over each category will narrow it down to still more specific categories. A veritable treasure trove of information, yet the chart makes it easy to zero in on a topic of particular concern. The key on the left explains the meaning of each of the six symbols used on the chart.

2015 Feb Marketwatch article: "Socially responsible investing is gaining major traction, thanks in part to the emergence in the U.S. of �impact investing,� a concept that started in the U.K." BUT: see subsequent Marketwatch article, whick warns that fund performance may not track index performance.

Some funds focus on divesting from or avoiding investing in companies that have negative social impacts, while impact investing focuses on encouraging positive impacts. Large institutional investors have been spurring the trend towad impact investing, which in turn has led to "a new focus on academics with seminars, professors and even programs churning out graduates who hope to pin their careers on the movement."

"Adding momentum to affect investing is the creation of the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB), which is starting to create key performance metrics, and features top leaders from Michael Bloomberg to former SEC Chair Mary Schapiro."

2015 Feb Marketwatch article: Doing (pretty) well by doing good

Consumers are increasingly looking for responsible investing opportunities and consequently opportunities are increasing. There are downsides to socially responsible investing, however, which are described in a video on the site. Some companies practice "greenwashing"--pretending to use more sustainable practices than they do, and adding social criteria to financial ones can limit the profits or increase the risks of losses from investments.

A strictly non-professional opinion by the author of responsibleconsumer.net: the best way I can think of to combine profit or savings and socially responsible investing is by ownership of real estate. You can rent residential (a house or rooms) or business property (a building or space in one) at a fair rate of return for yourself and fair rent for your tenant(s) and set your own rules. An intriguing possibility is the tiny/small house movement: tinyhouse.com, tinygreencabins.

Equal Exchange Certificate of Deposit

Minimum purchase $500, term 3 years, rate .40 compounded monthly as of 2013 March 4. Supports Equal Exchange Coop's fair trade purchases and their small farmer partners. "All the money from the CDs is pooled together and made available to Equal Exchange as a low cost loan. Your CDs guarantee that loan. That means that there is a higher risk [see risks] than with a normal CD; if we default on the loan it's possible to lose some of the principal." Accounts are with Eastern Bank and FDIC insured against bank closure.

To calculate interest on a CD, see CD calculator at bankrate.com. A list of socially responsible mutual funds can be found on Green America's National Green Pages.

Investing Basics

A good place to start understanding stock valuations, trades, find resources, choose a broker and manage accounts, and understand options: Online Investor Knowledge Center.

Green America Retirement Plan Options Guide includes a section entitiled "Where Do I Learn Socially Responsible Investing Basics?"

Robert A G Monks, in a Truthout opinion column, "Is Divesting Activism?" suggests that divesting is often only symbolic rather than effective in bringing about social change. He suggests shareholder activism as a more difficult, but sometimes more effective, alternative.

Green America Social Investing page links to various strategies. Green America's Responsible Shopper allows you to compare many companies and industries. Responsible Shopper also notes things companies have been criticised and praised for, such as environmental practices, sweatshop labor, community and labor relations, diversity in the workforce, and charitable contributions.

Fossil-free investing

      BBC news Science & Environment: scientists to discuss investing/divesting in fossil fuels

     How To Invest Fossil-Free.

     Students pressuring educational institutions to divest from fossil fuel holdings.

     The Responsible Endowments Activist: Lauren Ressler

     Trucost analysis: Carbon Risks And Opportunities In The S&P 500.

     The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment: Fossil Fuel, Divestment & Reinvestment.

Cruelty-free investing

Cruelty-Free Investing
Easy-to-read, concise, but very informative and persuasive presentation by Nancy Boardman on investing in companies that do not harm animals. Names Rocky Mountain Humane Investment Corporation, Cruelty Free Value Fund, and Humane Equity Fund as examples of cruelty-free mutual funds.

More

YourEthicalMoney.org
Site based in UK has sections for consumers on banking, investments and ISAs, pensions, insurance, mortgages, credit cards, student finance, and child trust funds

Good Money Home Page
Large site with many pages on ethical investing, consuming, and businesses. Information on social, environmental, and animal welfare issues.

SocialFunds.com
Large site providing information, tools, and news for socially responsible investors. There are sections on mutual funds, community investing, and financial services (including brokers, financial planners, and money managers). On the financial services pages, there are search tools to find brokers and financial planners near you, and links to order a free Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Mutual Funds Guide.

Responsible Investor: why short-term investing is hazardous to our social and financial health
This is one of several free articles in this newsletter by subscription. Disclaimer: Because most of the site is accessible by paid susbscription only, Responsible Consumer has not reviewed more than a sampling of the site. Some of it is hard to follow because of the heavy use of acronyms (such as ESG, which in this case stands for environmental, social, and governance). Much of it seems addressed to investing professionals rather than the general public. Nevertheless, the site seems to embrace important principles of social responsibility and to suggest ways in which investors can address these.

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