Individual Action

Action to ensure your own savings are invested in the solutions to the climate crisis, not the causes, is an important way to protect both your assets and the climate. You can move your savings into a fossil-free investment portfolio, make investments directly in companies supporting the energy transition, or select “impact investments”. These kinds of changes will help the planet and help to change the financial industry. 

Spotlight On: David VanAlstyne and Sustainable Orillia

David VanAlstyne is a man with sustainable transportation on his mind.  

“The philosophy we want to promote is that the most ecological mode of transit is walking, and then we progress to ‘well if you can’t walk, ride your bike’ and then if you have to own a car, make a conscious choice about what you’re going to own. That’s when you get to electric vehicles,” said David.  

An EV on display in Orillia

He is one of the creators of Sustainable Orillia’s Electric Vehicle Information Portal.   

Known as the organization’s “transportation guy”, David is the chair of Sustainable Orillia’s Infrastructure and Energy Sector and has worked in transportation in one form or another for most of his career. His retirement project is to foster a big reduction in gas-powered vehicles on the roads of Orillia.     

“I’m what you call an early adopter,” said David, “I was sold on electric vehicles (EVs) many years ago.”   

When David’s team came up with the idea for an information portal for folks considering an EV, he was pleased to see there were fellow EV enthusiasts on the Sustainable Orillia board.   

“Turns out that my passion for EVs was shared by other people. Quite a few own Teslas, one owns a Kia Soul electric and so it just kind of came together,” said David.   

The goal of the Electric Vehicle Information Portal (or EVIP for short), is to provide a single source of fact-based information for people who are considering buying an EV.  Sustainable Orillia launched the EVIP on May 31st.  

David and his sector team sent out an email to all Sustainable Orillia members, and asked about what kinds of questions they’d like to see answered by the Portal. The team hoped that this would provide a good sense of what the public would be asking for.   

They found that people were most concerned with the cost, and with the range the car can drive before having to charge.   

“Since the recent models came out, range and cost really aren’t as big an issue anymore,” said David. “And since the Portal was launched, we continue to provide information and edits, to make sure we address what’s missing.”  He and Jessica Kearney, a student intern assigned to the project, along with the rest of the sector team, hope to continue to adapt it so it will always be a great source of information. 

The EVIP is one piece of Sustainable Orillia’s larger campaign to promote change in the city and get Canada moving to a net zero future. From advocating for better agricultural practices to examining the impacts of climate change on physical and mental health, the organization is tackling the issue of climate change from as many angles as possible. They see EVs as an important piece of the puzzle.   

“EV sales in Canada last year hit 3.6% of the total cars sold,” said David, “but in order to get to net zero by 2050 we really have to ramp up the rate of adoption of EVs in Canada. How do you do that? You have to present them in a way that satisfies basic needs, and show people that the transition is relatively painless.”   

“I don’t miss my gas car at all,” said David.   

Sustainable Orillia is in the process of organizing an EV Demo Day, where owners, car dealers and EV enthusiasts will be on hand to talk to people about EVs and answer their questions. They are hoping to have the event in mid to late September.   

Spend your Money Efficiently with Sustainable Orillia

Greening Portfolios

The carbon footprint of a personal investment portfolio can be substantial, undermining important efforts to reduce your own climate impact. We have presented two webinars about your money and climate change, featuring Tim Nash of Good Investing, Mary Robinson of the Responsible Investment Association, and Sue-May Talbot, a portfolio manager at Genus capital. You’ll learn what to avoid and questions to ask your portfolio manager about responsible investing.
Green Bonds

A green bond is used to finance environmental projects. They are often bought by pension funds and wealth fund managers, but more recently they have been offered to individuals. Green bonds provide one of the few opportunities for investors to put their money into climate change solutions. Find out more here.

Need more of a primer on green bonds? Check out Queen’s University’s Institute for Sustainable Finance to get valuable information on the ins and outs of green bonds.

Fundraising for Sustainability

The majority of grassroots environmental organizations rely on donations to keep going. Often the first steps to action is to get out your chequebook. The County Sustainability Group has partnered up with to raise money by selling rain barrels across Prince Edward County and Belleville. All the funds raised will go to The PECI Student Environmental Award and County Organic Farmers Award.

Take a look through our Network of climate organizations across Ontario to see who you’d like to contribute to!

Taking Action Through Savings, Investments and Spending Power – Susan Tanner and Irvin Waller

We are social justice advocates who are still working many hours to sustain human life on this planet without violence and state brutality. We had to rely on financial planners to manage our investments and for a few years were frustrated at not being able to find funds that reflected our social justice goals. After repeated requests, we found a financial planner who shifted us into a new Sustainable Equity Fund, which invests in best-in-class companies aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including Gender Equality, Clean Energy, Reduced Inequality, Climate Action, Peace and Justice! It specifically excludes gambling, weapons, and those related to traditional energy/fossil fuels.

~ Susan Tanner and Irvin Waller