This article is by staff writer Katie O’Connor.

Volkswagen mini van with colorful psychedelic painting

Caught red-handed

On the off-chance you haven’t heard about it, Volkswagen, the German car maker, is in a world of trouble. The company was caught using software to game emissions testing, a flat-out cheating move that affects some 11 million vehicles.

Not surprisingly, shares in Volkswagen tanked as soon as the news broke, down now by as much as 30 percent. Shareholders raced to clear their portfolios of anything connected to the now scandal-scarred car maker. At the same time, in lesser headlines, actor Leonardo DiCaprio vowed to break entirely from investing in any companies that promote the use of fossil fuels and urged others to do the same.

How far does social investing go?

This made us wonder: Should investors — even folks like us who may only have a 401K, a college fund or index funds and the idea is not to make trades — care about the social and environmental responsibility of the companies in which we invest?

It’s a question on many minds, apparently. According to the most recent figures from the Forum on Sustainable and Responsible Investment, some $6.5 trillion in U.S. assets under management now use so-called “SRI” strategies: sustainable, responsible and impact investing, up more than 75% year-over-year. What do you think?

Let us know your take in the comments below if social value is a core part of your thinking as you look to save and invest. If not, why not? We value your opinions.

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