By Tom Sedoric and Casey Snyder

It’s understandable that you might be taken aback by the daily onslaught of challenging news. From the real, destructive impact of climate change – drought, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding – to global and domestic political turmoil to the deadly Covid-19 pandemic - there appears, at times, to be no end in sight.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and even discouraged but human beings are a complex species. We have put ourselves in a tough position but, whatever our collective faults, we have a genius to batten down the hatches and set sail ahead. Walking in stride with the anxious chaos of today is the determined effort of many charting a path to the future that, in many respects, is happening across the continents right now before our very eyes. All you need to do is shift your perspective slightly to see the efforts being made and the paths ahead.

In just the few minutes we spent brainstorming this topic, we discovered so many people and companies with inspirational, positive stories that we lost count. Those that we mention are no more “special” than ones you might have heard or know about. What these people and companies all have in common is that they are doing something special to transform local and global economies, tackle issues that impact everyone, and are doing things that will change the trajectory of our collective destiny.

From the fiduciary’s perspective, the increasingly growth and investor-focused popularity of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) platforms is a good example of a fundamental change occurring right in front of us. More people are letting their investment dollars speak quite loudly and, more than ever before, the infrastructure for ESG platforms is rapidly growing to serve them.

As a sign of the times, earlier this year J.P. Morgan, one of the world’s largest banks, acquired OpenInvest, a company that helps investors measure the social impact of their investments. “At OpenInvest, we believe that aligning capital with social and environmental values is a critical driver of widespread change,” said Conor Murray, OpenInvest co-founder and CEO, about the merger. (Full disclosure: Casey Snyder was previously an advisor to OpenInvest prior to the JPM announcement)

Look at the General Motors statement that the company will become an all-electric vehicle company by 2035 and pledges to be completely carbon neutral by the same year. A tipping point is coming not only for electric vehicles but also for solar energy.

Here are a few more examples why all forms of ESG investing (either through your investments or local buying decisions) proves the future is now:

  • For customers of the green financial services company Aspiration, the company has pledged never to invest in fossil fuel corporations and will plant a tree each time a debit or credit card is used. Via its Plant Your Change initiative, Aspiration pledges to plant 100 million trees in the coming years to offset carbon emissions. According to the company, it planted one million trees in the first three months of the program in 2020.
  • In New Hampshire, Charley Cummings, the founder of Walden Local Meat which connects hundreds of small farms with tens of thousands of customers in the northeast, will open Walden Mutual, a bank to help those farmers with financing. Imagine connecting sustainable farming with sustainable banking? (We recommend a recent Boston Globe feature story and understand the power of mutual banking.
  • For companies yearning to do the right thing but unsure how to do it in a comprehensive way, the global company SouthPole.com is bringing together public and private sectors and non-governmental organizations to create real and long-term solutions to the climate emergency. (Annie Sedoric is employed by SouthPole). 
  • Or closer to home, there is New York and Portsmouth based Walden Renewables which puts together medium and large solar and wind turbine renewable energy projects throughout the country, including those projects in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. 
  • Across the Piscataqua River from us in Kittery, Maine, there’s a shop called We Fill Good which offers consumers the opportunity to reduce waste through non-toxic home and body cleaning products with an emphasis on sustainability in production and use. 

We could go on and on. These companies and organizations are at the tip of the iceberg merging innovation and entrepreneurial dedication to drive change locally and globally. For those who might be skeptical, simply consider what happened in 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone 2G. This was the first step in a smart phone/computing revolution that now connects more than five billion people globally – not to mention having far more computer processing power than the mainframes that sent the Apollo astronauts to the moon five decades ago.

Change may seem glacial until it isn’t. Change happens in cascades of opportunities across the world. For our future children, those yet to be born, this trajectory in ESG investing and conscious efforts in sustainability could potentially be the transformational roadmap that makes the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century seem quaint by comparison.