Zone 5

Tangible Assets, Sustainable Global Economy

The center zone on the RIM is indeed the core of our economic lives: shopping! Our activities in this zone offer the opportunity to notice and take responsibility for our consumption of the physical things we need in our lives. The allure and simplicity of participating in the global economy make it all too easy to gloss over the accumulation of unintended consequences that live within that system. Our purchasing decisions offer a chance to rethink some of these consequences and to take some steps toward engaging with the sustainable global economy as much as possible, leading to more informed decisions that not only facilitate our own well-being but also contribute to a just and healthy world.

Key areas of Zone 5 focus

  • Shopping with your values
  • Voluntary simplicity
  • Sharing economy options that reduce need to own things (car, tools)
  • Investments in tangible products (art, collectibles, precious metals)

Mindless consumption always becomes excess consumption

A quick and simple think piece on reducing consumption caught our eye this week.  9 Intentional Ways to Challenge Consumerism in Your Life addresses a topic that lies at the heart of resilient investing’s Zone 5 (Tangible Assets/Sustainable Global Economy), yet one that we rarely take the time to really grapple with.  Joshua Becker, author of Simplify and Clutterfree with Kids offers up (you guessed it) nine themes to consider, and the comment thread that follows is also rewarding.  His core thought is the one in our headline: mindless consumption always becomes excess consumption.  If this triggers a twinge for you, then you’d probably benefit from taking a look at what Becker has to say. These two struck us as especially fruitful:

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9 sustainable firms join the billion-dollar club

Here’s a piece of good news that’s flown under the radar: sustainability-oriented companies are rapidly becoming mainstream leaders of the corporate world.  Nine companies have crossed the billion-dollars-a-year threshold in annual revenues, and several more are not far behind.  E. Freya Williams, whose recently-released book Green Giants looks at the traits and qualities that these companies share, proclaims that sustainability-driven firms are no longer “going up against with the big boys. They are the big boys.”  And not surprisingly, they’ve been performing like gangbusters:

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Center for a New American Dream

The Center for a New American Dream works to redefine what the American Dream means – focusing on the connections between a hyper-consumer culture, quality of life, and the environment. It offers numerous programs and tools to help Americans reduce and shift their consumption patterns. Visit website.

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A Wide Variety of Consumer Guides from EWG

Environmental Working Guide has done its homework in producing practical, helpful consumer guides that research and rate numerous everyday items, including beauty products, hair/teeth/skincare, sunscreen, baby products, seafood, lighting, etc. These searchable databases include a wealth of information to help people purchase or use healthier products and foods and avoid the same with unhealthy or even toxic ingredients. See guides.

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Benefit Corporations and B Corps

Benefit Corporations are a new legal class of corporate structure, now available in over half the states in the US; Benefit Corporations are charged with not only serving the interests of their owners, but also creating a material positive impact on society and the environment. Learn more and find Benefit Corporations here.

An related initiative is the B Corp network, which while not a legal structure, is open to companies large and small in the US and overseas. To be certified as a B Corp, companies must meet higher standards of accountability, transparency, community service, and environmental sustainability. Learn more about the 1200+ B Corps.

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American Sustainable Business Council

The American Sustainable Business Council works to create a vision and policy framework for a sustainable, market-based economy. The ASBC engages in advocacy targeting policy makers, business leaders, and the public at large on issues including sustainable economics, financial markets, energy and environment, taxes, and worker ownership.  Membership includes businesses, organizations, and individuals. Visit website.

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