Vanguard Cheap AF ESG Portfolio

I’ve long admired Vanguard’s unique ownership structure and their mission to keep fees low for investors. Imagine my excitement when they launched their new ETFs with a socially responsible mandate. I even got to write about their pros and cons for MoneySense! This portfolio is by no means perfectly sustainable, but it is hyper diversified and very cheap with a total Management Expense Ratio (MER) of just 0.19%.


Asset Class


ETF Name




US Equity


Vanguard ESG U.S. Stock ETF




Int'l Equity


Vanguard ESG International Stock ETF




Gov’t Bonds


Vanguard Canadian Government Bond Index ETF




Curiously, Vanguard’s Canadian Government Bond ETF (VGV) is not the cheapest Canadian government bond ETF on the market so investors can lower their total MER to 0.15% by swapping it out for less expensive options from BMO (ZGB) and iShares (CLG).

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Fossil Fuel Free Portfolio

The equity portion of this portfolio consists of global sector funds, and excludes the following sectors: Energy, Materials, Utilities, and Infrastructure.  It is as diversified as possible, yet contains no extractive companies, major carbon emitters, or pipelines.  The total annual cost of this portfolio is about 0.43%.


Real Estate                         2.5%    iShares Global Real Estate Index ETF (CGR)

Healthcare                          5%      S&P Global Healthcare Index Fund (XHC)

Industrials                           5.5%      S&P Global Industrials Index Fund (XGI) 

Water                                   5%      S&P Global Water Index Fund (CWW)

Consumer Discretionary      5%      S&P Global Consumer Discretionary Index Fund (XCD)

Consumer Staples               4.5%      iShares Global Consumer Staples Fund (KXI)

Technology                          7.5%      Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK)

Cleantech                            4%      PowerShares Cleantech Portfolio (PZD)

Green Energy                      4%     NASDAQ CleanEdge Green Energy Index Fund (QCLN)

Environmental Services       4.5%     Market Vectors Environmental Services ETF (EVX)

Financials                           10%      iShares Global Financials Fund (IXG)

Telecommunications          2.5%      iShares Global Telecom Fund (IXP)

Canadian Gov’t bonds      30%     iShares DEX All Government Bond Index Fund (XGB)

Community Bonds            10%     CoPower Green Bonds


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Easy as Pie Portfolio

Divesting from fossil fuels just got a lot easier. A prominent Canadian mutual fund company - IA Clarington - recently announced that their Enhance Global Equity Fund (subadvised by Vancity credit union) has removed all exposure to fossil fuel companies.

This portfolio is the absolute simplest I could make it. It is 100% RRSP and TFSA eligible, and the annual management fee is 0.95%.


Global Equity 60% IA Clarington Inhance Global Equity SRI Class F-Series (CCM5013)

Government Bonds 30% iShares 1-10 Year Laddered Government Bond Index ETF (CLG)

Impact Bonds 10% Oikocredit Global Impact GIC

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Organic Couch Potato Portfolio

This portfolio is simple, with a positive environmental impact.  It is very diversified, yet places a strong bet on the emergence of a low-carbon economy.  The total annual cost of this portfolio is 0.39%.


Canadian Equity   15%      iShares Jantzi Social Index (XEN)

US Equity            15%      iShares MSCI USA ESG Select Social Index (KLD)

Int'l Equity          10%      iShares MSCI EAFE ESG Optimized ETF (ESGD)

Int'l Equity           5%       iShares MSCI EM ESG Optimized ETF (ESGE)

Green Equity        15%      PowerShares Cleantech Portfolio (PZD)

Canadian Bonds    30%     iShares DEX All Government Bond Index Fund (XGB)

Solar Bonds          10%     SolarShare Community Bonds

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Need Help?

Want to manage your own money but need help getting started? The Sustainable Economist has created a new company that offers investment coaching services for do-it-yourself sustainable investors.

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