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Ethical investors have many reasons to consider companies in the retail sector. The sector is broad and features an abundance of companies uninvolved in the areas most ethical investors try to avoid, such as gambling, alcohol, firearms and illicit content. With the presence of environmentally conscious companies such as Whole Foods (WFM), which offsets 100% of its energy usage with green power, retail provides many options for socially responsible investing. Even big retailers such as Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT), often derided by environmental and business ethics advocates, have taken significant steps in the 21st century toward environmental consciousness, such as switching to renewable energy and participating in food donation programs.

What Is Ethical Investing?

Ethical investing means different things to different people, but its overarching theme is allowing ethical principles, rather than profit motive, to guide investing decisions. The ethical investor wants to feel he is making the world a better place by supporting certain companies with his investment dollars, not simply fattening his own portfolio.

Similar to ethical investing is socially responsible investing, which seeks to influence positive social outcomes through investing activities. Socially responsible investors look for investing opportunities with companies dedicated to environmental awareness, green energy and social justice.

Retail Options for Ethical Investors

Additional retail companies popular among ethical investors include Kohl's (KSS), which underwent a massive project in 2008 to reduce its carbon footprint by installing solar panels on the rooftops of its stores.

Also gaining traction among ethical investors is Nike (NKE). Though the company has received its share of bad press for questionable labor practices, it has worked to clean up its image by becoming carbon-neutral and powering its world headquarters with green energy.

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