Buy Stocks, Change Environmental Policy
I'm not suggesting that you buy stocks to make a lot of cash, I'm suggesting that you purchase stocks in order to make a lot of change. A person who owns shares in a company has the right to attend shareholders meetings and influence company policy. A person who wants to get a small supermarket chain to stop using plastic bags has a lot more power on the inside than they do on the outside.
With the financial crisis on, stocks are hitting rock-bottom prices. If you're not suffering from this recession, it might be a good time to buy up some of those stocks that those Wall Street fat cats are so quick to ditch. I'm not suggesting that you'll make any money on this. You might make money after the recession recedes, but this idea isn't about money.
Influence a Small Company
It's doubtful that you'll be able to buy enough stock to influence the large public companies like GM or Microsoft. (There are ways. We'll get to that later.) But if you invest in small companies, you'll have more say and be able to afford more stocks. In a small company, you can interact with the managers, and you'll have some direct influence over the company's decisions. As a part-owner of the company, you have a right to dictate some green-as-grass policy.
Influence a Large Company
In a large company, it is harder to make a difference. You can attend the shareholders meetings and you can vote on policy, but your measly shares aren't going to make a dent in a giant company. The best way to influence a large company through stock acquisition is to make allies with other people who want the same things. Find other shareholders who want to implement green policy. Have all your stocks vote together towards environmental improvement. Even if they don't give in to your every demand, they may placate some of your demands in order to keep you and your allies from selling out all your stocks at once.
The Stockbroker, the Green and You
Stockbrokers are always interested in the bottom line. You can't really blame them. That's their job. They need to eat too, you know. But if you tell your broker, not to invest your money in companies that have lax environmental policies, the broker will do what you say. Take a hands-on approach to stock ownership. Most people just put a few stocks into a retirement fund and never worry about them again. They let those people most interested in making money take charge. I'm telling you to flex your power as stockholders to change the policies of the corporations and companies.
For more on green investing, don't forget to check out Planet Green's How to Go Green: Investing