Investing. If you are not yet familiar with it, it seems quite complicated, and if you also want to invest sustainably, you may be overwhelmed when you start out. Let me guide you through!
In the beginning I was very nervous about investing, but I was also curious. I had already read books about more financial freedom and passive incomes, and investing always came up as one of the possibilities to create that financial freedom (freedom that you can put back into volunteering or activism, for example)! That is why I started investing very carefully and with small amounts via Peaks and Semmie. After that, I also opened an account with DeGiro and selected sustainable ETFs to invest in. Later I discovered that the term sustainable investing is sometimes mainly greenwashing, and that there is a big difference between sustainable, impact or green investing. I will go into this in more detail later in the article. But first let's explain some terms:
What are ETFs?
ETFs are funds with many different companies in their basket. With this you spread your risk more than if you invest in one company that can go well or badly. Sustainable ETFs can be recognized by an ESG or SRI score.
What are ESG scores?
Companies or funds are screened for sustainability on the basis of an ESG score, which stands for Environmental, Social & Governance. ESG funds do not exclude sectors, so in principle there can still be fossil fuel companies with a sustainable policy.
Source: Thomson Reuters ESG Scores Guide
What are SRI scores?
SRI stands for Socially Responsible Investing, where stricter criteria are applied than with ESG. Some companies are therefore excluded.
With impact investing you invest in an organization where the impact goes above the profit. You invest in companies that contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, according to this research, you have more positive impact with ordinary investing and donating the return to charities than with impact investing. So food for thought..
There is also a difference between sustainable investing and green investing. In short, sustainable investing is about various ethical principles, including society and well-being. Green investing is specifically about the environment, for example by investing in renewable energy.
In short, sustainable investing comes in many forms, and many factors are involved. Therefore, be critical and choose stocks or funds that you feel comfortable with.
Which (Dutch) platforms are available?
With Semmie you can easily start investing sustainably through their app. You can transfer money manually or a fixed amount per month via direct debit, even with very small amounts. Semmie manages the sustainable funds, so you don't really need to have any knowledge of investing. I think it's a nice app to start with.
• If you also want to try Semmie, you will receive the first € 15 for free via this link.
Peaks is also a platform where you can invest sustainably in a very accessible way, because you can already invest with your 'pocket' change. Your bank transactions are rounded up and deposited into your Peaks account. You can also set to invest, for example, one euro per day. It is then debited from your account weekly (or monthly) via an automatic debit and invested. They manage the fund, you only have to choose how 'sharply' you want to invest - in other words how much risk you dare to take. A mild portfolio contains more bonds, which is perceived as more stable. However, the costs are quite high if you work with small amounts (€ 1 per month). Only from € 2500 will the costs be lower. You can read more about their sustainable policy here.
• For Peaks I have a code for € 5 free start credit as well.
Download the Peaks app and create an account.Then enter my code within 48 hours: KATINS76I
Visit https://bit.ly/actiecode-peaks for more information.
At DeGiro you manage your own portfolio. You can choose from a variety of stocks and ETFs on this platform. For example, you can buy shares of Beyond Meat or (sustainable) ETFs. You have lots of different options but it's a bit more complicated when you first start out.
• You'll receive € 20 investing money for free through this link.
Bux Zero is a simple app where you also choose which stocks or ETFs you invest in. The costs are a bit higher than with DeGiro, but to start investing it is much more accessible.The choice of stocks and ETFs is somewhat limited. I have this app mainly because you both get a free share when you invite someone. You cannot choose this share yourself, but of course you can sell it if you are not satisfied, and buy a sustainable share instead ;)
• Apply here to receive a free stock share.
At ASN Bank you can choose between specific, individual funds or a mixed fund ('target investments'). With this target investment, you choose the risk and duration yourself, and based on that your money is invested for you. For example, ASN also offers a specific green project fund and microcredit fund.Important selection criteria of ASN are biodiversity, human rights and climate. They also enter into discussions with companies. My impression is that you invest genuinely sustainably at ASN, because they apply strict assessment criteria! Read more about their sustainable policy here.
Source: ASN Bank
Triodos At Triodos you can choose to invest in impact funds or theme funds, or to buy shares in Triodos Bank itself. With the impact fund you choose a portfolio of different sustainable companies and/or bonds, and with a theme fund you invest in a specific theme that you find important. Triodos is even called dark green, because they not only exclude companies, but also enter into dialogue with such companies. You can invest monthly from € 25, or once from € 100. You can find more information about their investing policy here.
Brand New Day
Via Brand New Day you can not only invest (sustainably) but also open a pension fund. They do not have an app, but they do have a nice website where you can put together the proportions of your investment portfolio yourself. I opened a pension fund myself because as a self-employed person I do not automatically accrue pension, and because pension savings have certain tax advantages. Read more about the pros and cons of retirement savings here. Or read more about their sustainable funds here.
• Open an investment or retirement account here and receive the first €15 for free.
This platform is a form of impact investing, and works on the basis of crowdfunding. You invest in sustainable projects in developing countries, and that is possible from € 50. They talk about an interest rate of 7%, but note that the actual return is often much lower. Read more about Lendahand's working method here.
What is important to realize is that every platform charges per transaction and/or per term. A small difference in costs can save a lot of money in the long run! Read this carefully so that you can make a conscious choice. This blog is based only my experience, so do your own research.
Vegan friendly stocks and funds
Vegan stocks aren't up for grabs, but I've found some interesting options! In addition to vegan (friendly) companies, you can also invest in vegetable raw materials, for example. Please note that many raw materials, such as soy, are also supplied to the livestock industry. If you have any other tips, please let me know!
Available at DeGiro:
Beyond Meat (BYND)
Tattooed Chef (TTCF)
Eat Beyond Global Hldgs Inc.
Very Good Food Co. Inc.
Other interesting stocks:
US Vegan Climate ETF (VEGN)*
Plantx Life Inc (VEGA.CN)
Else Nutrition (BABYF)
Maple Leaf Foods (MLFNF)
SIMRIS (SIMRIS ALG)
Modern Meat (MEAT)
Burcon NutraScience (BUROF)
Laird Superfood (LSF)
Ingredion Incorporated (INGR)
Else Nutrition (BABY)
*The US Climate ETF fund mainly consists of companies such as Google, Apple, Alphabet.So it's not as progressive as it sounds!
Hopefully you now have a slightly clearer picture of (sustainable) investing and whether it is also something for you. For the time being, I will continue to invest with small amounts and see if I can adjust this in an even more sustainable way, and I will gradually add to this article. I will also dive into the crypto world and investigate whether sustainable crypto coins exist. Spoiler alert: Bitcoin is definitely not!
Do you see something that is not quite right? Be sure to let me know too. This blog is based solely on my own experiences, and is not sponsored. It does contain affiliate links. This means that I also receive credit when you invest via a link with the free credit. This way we help each other and I am super grateful when you do this!
Want to read more? My favorite books/blogs/podcasts about investing:
Note: Know that with investing you take risk, and that you can lose (part of) your investment.Only invest with money that you can afford to lose (in the long term)!