5 min read

Just Add Water

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Hi there,

Our grocery bags may feel much lighter than they did two years ago. First, there’s not as much home baking going on (not sure where that sourdough starter went?), and second, we’re having to think a lot harder about purchases as prices rise. Google says searches for “creative ways to save money” and “states with no income tax” have more than tripled (+200%) in the past 3 months.

And these price increases can be seen in the latest government data. Consumer prices jumped 8.5% in March from a year ago, the fastest increase since 1981, as gasoline and groceries especially took much larger chunks out of our wallets. This news roiled markets, but experts pointed out the silver lining that core prices (which exclude food and energy) are seeing slower increases on a monthly basis. This could be a sign that inflation is peaking, but predictions about the future of inflation rarely survive the test of time.

The latest inflation data and the headlines can get you down, but we doubt this month’s Consumer Price Index data will dampen the enthusiasm of innovators, particularly when companies and founders are motivated to solve big challenges. In fact, we were reminded recently that former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers recommended that instead of focusing on divestment, sustainability-focused investors should focus on finding new emerging technologies as a “strategy for generating positive value.“ While our guidance to new values-aligned investors is unwavering, this is a good reminder of the opportunities that new solutions to the complex problems we face can provide to investors. And that is why you will see FWIW highlighting specific sectors where investors can find multiple options to invest in solutions in the weeks to come. You can find this week’s example — water and access to water — below.

News you can use

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  • Stripe, Alphabet, Meta, Shopify, and McKinsey have promised to spend $925 Million carbon removal over the next nine years. Their plan is to support the development of new technologies by guaranteeing demand. Slashing emissions is the main focus in the climate movement, but carbon removal is meant to help us reach net-zero in industries where emissions cannot be helped. Many believe carbon removal is an important part of the puzzle to help achieve our lower carbon goals, but critics have called it “a dangerous distraction.”
  • Spring cleaning? Lululemon is launching its own resale platform on Earth Day and inviting shoppers to trade-in gently used clothing from the store for a gift card. The move, which could help their sales, consumer wallets, and the environment, is part of a growing trend driven by inflation, supply chain delays, and worries about the sustainability of our shopping habits.
  • 68% of CEOs of US companies polled in a recent survey admitted that their own companies have committed greenwashing, and over two-thirds of all CEOs polled questioned whether their company’s sustainability initiatives were genuine. While the majority of the CEOs of companies with over 500 employees surveyed made sustainability a priority and 93% said they would be willing to (or already do) tie a portion of their pay to ESG factors, only 36% said they had the tools in place to track their progress on sustainable initiatives.

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