“Where Your Vacation Meets Your Values” — voting with your dollar (investing and spending)

Recently, I’ve been reading alot about the growth of the social impact investing space and wanted to address this in the context of social impact spending and how we vote with the dollars we spend as much as those we invest.

JuluchucaSaltIn an article by Stephanie Cohn Rupp of the Threshold Group,  she addresses the size of social impact investing marketplace and key bottlenecks to growth.  Similarly, in an article by Colin Close with InvestCloud, he discusses how impact investing is moving from fringe to mainstream.  The basic idea is to invest your dollars with your values.  Original SRI (Socially Responsible Investing) was mostly values based with churches and other groups putting up “negative” screens and asking investment advisors and portfolio manager to exclude certain investments which did not match with their values such as guns, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, etc.  The market has moved from exclusion to inclusion, from “screening out” to “advocacy”, as many of these same financial advisory groups are advocating for companies they invest in to make “positive” changes related to corporate governance, community engagement and environmental impact.

It all sounds great especially when you read that the returns from ESG/SRI has been as good as or better than the market in most cases. How do they define this? They take one index (basket of stocks) and compare it to another. One that broadly represents the market like the S&P 500 and the iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social ETF. Go look it up, here is how it is described:

  1. Exposure to socially responsible U.S. companies
  2. Access to a broad range of stocks that have been screened for positive environmental, social, and governance characteristics
  3. Use to invest based on your personal values

Now, take a look at the list of top 10 companies. They include Coca-Cola and Pepsico. I don’t know about you, but the sale of sugar water and bottled water is not in alignment with my values. Sure, I guess I could ask for a further screening to exclude these two from the top 10. But, if these are included, who’s making the list and what are their values based on?

Julia with Odin at Playa Viva
Julia with Odin at Playa Viva

When Playa Viva was just building it’s first buildings, we had a special guest,renowned American environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill, who was pondering moving to Playa Viva to live. During our time together Julia taught me what is meant by really living by your values and doing as much as you can, and should do, to save our planet.  I do aspire to many of her choices and the discipline she exercises in the execution of those values. The key to what she taught me was — We make small decisions every day in how we act, what we chose to do, and not do, how we plan ahead, how we make the hard choices in order to live with little to no impact on the earth.  We invest in impact by the daily decisions we make, by the way we spend (not just invest) our dollars.

pv_3We, at Playa Viva, have developed a motto over the years — “Where Your Vacation Meets Your Values.”  We know we are not perfect and much of what we do is aspirational at best. So when you look to make your vacation choice, we hope your vacation investment looks deeply at your vacation decisions. We ask that you engage with your vacation choice, hopefully it is with us, about your values to make sure we are in alignment.   Sure, I cringe every time I look under the bar and find a few cans of Coca-cola products. But they are under the bar, specifically for those customers who just can’t live without their fix. While on top of the counter is always a glass “jarra” full of Aguas Frescas, fresh water/juices, made with locally harvested fruits.

What do you reach for to quench your thirst? Does your vacation meet with your values?



Julia Butterfly Hill First Visit to Playa Viva

Julia with Odin at Playa Viva

Last week we had a very special visitor, Julia Butterfly Hill (here pictured with Odin Ruz, Permaculture Team Leader).  It was a great treat to have Julia join us for the week where she enjoyed a tour of Playa Viva, turtle release and lots of swimming in the ocean. 

We had met Julia breifly and were aware of her commitment to sustainability, regeneration and knew that we shared many of the same values; yet Julia is more than we could have ever hoped. While she demonstrates a commitment to living an exemplary life of minimal footprint, she combines living by example with excellent people skills, great business knowledge and realism about how to accomplish sustainable goals, not to mention a great sense of humor. 

As a result of the great working sessions between Julia and many of the members of our team, Julia has agreed to be a Strategic Advisor to Playa Viva. She has already starting working with both Michel, Odin and myself. With Michel, they reviewed the source of materials in construction, how we selected which woods to use, what is the status of “certified” wood in Mexico and our ability to get sustainably forested woods, choice of local and sustainable woods that are plentiful for construction (such as palm, bamboo, guapinol, etc.) and discussing various points of sustainable construction in Playa Viva.  I wish you all could be there to join that conversation, very lively and informative to all parties. Julia also went on a tour with Odin of his teams work in regeneration and restoration of the reserve and was pleased with the work in progress.  She also is working with me on issues of design, business models, community engagement and much more.

Julia is a great asset to the team and we are glad to have her commitment to the project.  We look forward to providing you more updates on her various contributions and hope you will join us in supporting Julia and the causes she promotes.