A reader asked: "How can I research whether a company I'd like to invest in is involved in an objectionable activity? I don't want to invest in companies that test products on animals."

This is "socially responsible investing" (SRI). The more socially responsible you try to be, the more difficult it can become to find acceptable companies, as there are many different ways that a business can hurt man or nature. A company may not pollute, but it might have a record of discriminating against female employees. Another firm may not make bombs, but it might sell junk food, clogging arteries and causing disease. It's hard to find objection-free organizations.

Consider Altria (NYSE:MO), parent of Philip Morris. It has won many awards for being a good place to work and has donated a lot of money to charities -- but it makes cigarettes. Wendy's (NYSE:WEN) has a long history of supporting and promoting adoption and is also working toward the fair treatment of animals. But it makes and sells foods that can clog arteries (though it offers salads, too).

That said, there are lots of resources online where you can learn more about socially responsible investing and research the activities of companies that interest you. Click over to these sites, for example:

Another good approach is to visit a company's own website, to learn what good deeds it's been doing and what its positions are on a number of issues. Of course, you probably won't learn many negative things about the firm there. For the downside, try typing "I hate (company name)" into Google's search engine and see if you get anything.

There are many mutual funds catering to socially responsible investing, too. (As with most funds, not all have stellar records.) Learn more at our Socially Responsible Investing discussion board.

Here are some Fool articles on socially responsible investing: