Green Business Conference

The Spa Industry Looks Well and Good

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 by

ispaAfter attending the 2013 International Spa Association (ISPA) annual conference, it certainly was apparent to me that all is well and good in the wellness industry.  From my observations, the $14+ billion U.S. market looks to be growing at a steady and healthy pace. “Things certainly are looking up.” Said Roberto Arjona, General Manager of the legendary Rancho La Puerta Resort and Spa. “We have not seen reservation bookings for our resort like this since before 2008 and we are now over one hundred percent capacity going into next year.”  Rancho La Puerta is not the exception. According to ISPA’s 2013 research, people visiting day spas, hotel and resort spas, and destination spas are all on the rise from 156 million in 2012 to 160 million in 2013 and spending has increased to an average of $87 per visit ; almost a two percent increase over the previous year. ISPA organizers said conference attendance was also back to pre-2008 numbers with packed educations sessions, and a busy expo floor showcasing interesting new products and services. I have been coming to this show for several years and here are some of the major observations I see trending in the wellness space:

Going deeper

It appears that spa product companies are becoming more intelligent and in touch with ingredients that promote healthy-aging rather than anti-aging. In previous years it was sometimes difficult to find truly natural and organic brands that were not greenwashing.  Labeling is a tricky thing and not many brands carry certifications such as USDA organic, Ecocert, or Natrue to verify their claims of being organic. This is because many are small boutique brands and find certification expensive. I did see a lot of companies claiming to be eco-friendly or natural and when questioned further most had intelligent responses and provided a deeper back story on sourcing and manufacturing.  

Evidence and Earth Based

I saw a lot of brands promoting benefits of natural ingredients such as seaweed, oils, stem cells and anti-oxidants. Although these ingredients have been used in spas for years if not decades, it seemed that there are more or perhaps I am just now beginning to recognize them. The science and evidence based elements of research as it relates to natural and organic based skincare regimes is more apparent and bringing about a new products that are very interesting including brands like OSEA, Dr. Hauschka, and Pino. However, with the FTC green guidelines recently released it is important that brands be aware that any eco claims that cannot be backed are subject to fines.

Bathing popularity

Kniepp claimed their sales of salt bath products have doubled in the past year due to the growing awareness of the ability to re-mineralizing the body through salt mineral bathing.  Salt products harvested from salt mines of the Himalayas or from European seas such as Kerstin Florian seemed to be more prevalent. I love salt baths and think they are a great component of a healthy regiment. But hearing that salt demand is on the rise globally is concerning. I hope the purity is maintained while the mining of this is also environmentally conscious.

Oil overflowing

It seemed like every other vendor was promoting essential oils which I think is a good thing.  For years many aromatherapists have claimed the healing benefits of essential oils.  I ran into an old friend Michelle Roark, the founder of Phia Lab, who was a professional skier, engineer, and now perfumer. She is doing energetic measurements of essential oils in kilojoules. She claims she has scientific proof of the calming or energizing qualities of oil frequencies. Here reports should be public soon and will demonstrate scientific proof of health benefits in using essential oils which is quite exciting and I am sure will be welcomed by the aroma therapy community.

Wellness Tourism on the Rise

My favorite session was on the growth and expansion of Wellness tourism presented by Suzie Ellis of SpaFinder. She spoke on “Why You Should Care About Wellness Tourism: Latest Research on the Global Wellness Tourism Market - And How Spas Can Benefit.” She covered the distinctions of medical tourism vs. wellness tourism. Susie said medial tourism focuses on reactive, symptom based medicine that people travel to another state or country to fix and heal. This includes cosmetic surgery, cancer treatments and organ transplants. Wellness tourism promotes a more proactive and less invasive approach that promotes a healthy lifestyle focusing on physical activity, diet and personal development or mind body experiences.  This has become a $439 billion dollar global market with major potential. It encompasses not only spa but alternative medicine, active lifestyles, yoga and mind body fitness which are all overlap the LOHAS market.

I was very impressed at how far the industry has not only grown but also how LOHAS values on wellness have become more integrated.  It appears that spa goers have become more conscious of how they surround themselves in spa settings and what type of ingredients they are putting on their skin and the spa companies are responding.  The recession has made brands and properties smarter in their decisions as it relates to communicating their mission to consumers and property greening as it relates to dollars and cents.  Although work still needs to be done, I look forward to what the industry has in store in the coming years.

 

St Julien Hotel & Spa offers a LOHAS experience and notable sustainable initiatives

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 by

Boulder is definitely a distinctive place with an abundance of green-minded individuals and businesses — the perfect spot for the amazing Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) conference I attended for the first time this year. After shopping at the irresistible eco-conscious stores on Pearl Street, I headed over to St Julien Hotel & Spa to check out the spa. As a spa industry educator, I always feel compelled to do my on-location research — especially after writing a book on Green Spas and Salons: How to Make Your Business Truly Sustainable.

The LOHAS frame of mind is central to the spa and wellness industry as it shifts into a more natural and organic world.  I have tried at least 50 product lines over 25 years through my esthetics practice, teaching, and research.  At the Spa at St Julien I received an excellent customized facial and definitely noticed a difference in my skin with Naturopathica and Luzurn products. 

The most notable part of the spa experience was that the entire spa staff gave exceptional customer service. They were present and mindful of their guests so one did not feel like they were just a “tourist.” Spa at St Julien carries thoughtfully chosen products, including clothing, gifts, and aromatherapy candles. Skin care products include Naturopathica, Luzern, Organic Male, Zents, Farm House Fresh, Body Bliss, and Soleil Organique. The makeup lines are Jane Iredale and La Bella Donna.

Boulder’s natural environment inspires the hand-made spa treatments that incorporate indigenous ingredients of plants, seeds, stones and extracts. Fresh herbs (organic mint and rosemary) for treatments such as the Mountain Mojito Scrub are harvested from the on-site herb garden.

St Julien Hotel & Spa works closely with Boulder-based UHG Consulting to reduce the Hotel's footprint on the community. Impressively, the property has decreased energy use by 17% from 2009-2012; reduced natural gas use by 30%; and water use decreased 11% (all decreases are per occupied room). The facility has also reduced waste by 85% since 2007.

Some specific green practices include carrying local products in the gift shop, switching from paper towels to washable hand towels, composting food waste, using an Ozone laundry system, and using compostable disposable cups. St Julien Hotel & Spa also donates opened amenities, linens, and supports other charities. Sustainable events and education are part of their culture and business practices.

Check out the St Julien Spa next time you are in Boulder. To grow the LOHAS mindset, let businesses know you appreciate their eco-conscious efforts and practices. Find more on spa sustainability from Shelley Lotz at www.greenspasandsalons.com.  

 

A New Printer and a Greener World

Monday, July 22, 2013 by

My business needed a new desktop printer recently. My old HP color laser jet still worked, but had run out of 1 of its 4 inks. It refused to print without a new cartridge.

Normally, this requires a trip to Staples and parting with $150. This time, I thought about it. 

From a triple bottom line perspective, a printer has significant impacts. Like any business person, I look for the best lifecycle cost. I buy reliable equipment (thank you, Consumer Reports) and use it as long as possible. However, a green business considers additional factors, including ways to:

  • reduce energy cost and pollution. My old printer was an energy hog. My new one carries the Energy Star label. My electric bill will shrink a bit and I do a happy dance every time it does.
  • reduce paper cost and pollution - Minimizing paper use has both business and environmental benefits. I'd rather keep trees around to absorb carbon dioxide (and provide shade in this hot Florida summer!) than cut them down to make paper. Especially since the paper manufacturing process is one of the most toxic out there.  I also print double-sided, use recycled paper, and recycle all paper that passes through my business.
  • reduce ink cost and pollution. When I bought the color Laser jet, I didn't know about the $150 cost per ink cartridge. Shame on me for not asking. This time around, the cost per cartridge will be $10 - $15. They'll need to be replaced more often, but the cost per page will still be about half what it was. 
    I'll continue to recycle my ink cartridges. They don't degrade well, and recycling them keeps plastics and heavy metals out of landfills.
  • enhance productivity. Much as I'd love to go paperless, I'm not quite there yet. As a writer and editor - who writes and edits EVERYWHERE - paper is sometimes more practical than lugging my laptop. Scribbling ideas in the car while waiting outside my daughter's school or marking up copy at a teeny table over lunch - these places don't lend themselves to laptops. The new printer lets me work "my way," while moving my business in a greener direction.
  • reduce equipment needs. The new printer also has fax, copier, and scanner capabilities. This was an unexpected bonus that just made sense. Why have multiple machines - in my case, a printer and fax - when one will do? I will donate my old fax machine - 29 years old and still working - to someone who needs it. And where the fax machine once sat, I'll add a nice, big plant to improve both the scenery and the air quality in my office.

Why spill so much "digital ink" about a new printer? Because it's just one example of how you can turn a seemingly mundane business decision into a strategic one, with both immediate and long-term busines benefits. The next time you are in the market for business equipment - stop and assess the greener alternatives!

 

Alison Lueders is the Founder and Principal of Great Green Editing. She creates content for green businesses and enterprises in the health, education and nonprofit arenas. She is a graduate of Harvard College and received her MBA from MIT. She earned her Bronze seal from Green America in 2013 and Platinum-level recognition from the Green Business Bureau in 2012. She can be reached at info@greatgreenediting.com and at 813-968-1292.

 

Thinking Outside the Bottle

Thursday, July 18, 2013 by

In the fall of 2012, green cleaning company Ecover purchased Method to become the largest green cleaning company in the world. For the first time since the acquisition Adam Lowy, Co-Founder of Ecover and Tom Domen, Head of Innovation for Ecover shared details on why this occurred and what they see in the future for the cleaning industry at the LOHAS conference.

Ecover was the first green cleaning brand that was created in Belgium in 1979 to eliminate phosphate pollution. Since then they have continued to pioneer innovations and demonstrate ecological benefits while providing a quality product. They grew to be the largest green cleaning company in Europe. Method was developed 1999 because the founders were frustrated with the way business was being done and there was an opportunity to create change in cleaning. The category of cleaning was untapped in the 90's and there was a trend with LOHAS consumers with a demand for better products. They became successful by bringing together style and substance and sustainability is built into the design of the product. The product is about making sustainability desirable and grew into a 100 million dollar company in 8 years.

Green cleaning is 4% of the cleaning category. Although Ecover and Method have a dominant position they feel that this is a failure. Their goals with the merger are to radically change the at a scale that can have greater impact. They feel there is no such thing as a green consumer. “You need breadth to cater to many needs and wants. With 2 brands focusing on 1 mission we can bring green to mainstream rather than pull consumers to think green.” Says Lowry.

Adam shared that the average person does 300 loads of laundry a year. Method created a concentrate to replace large jugs commonly used. They were able to change behavior of the consumer to adopt these smaller concentrates which are now common in stores today. This is an example of bringing green to mainstream.
Ecover and Method created an innovation roadmap to go beyond what is possible today to explore solutions for tomorrow. The roadmap dreams include growing cleaning products in the garden, washing machines that incubate cleaning products. They looked at these dreams and are building a roadmap to reality.

Key areas they plan to focus on together are:
•    Eliminating fossil fuels. Ecover is using bio plastic derived from sugar cane.
•    Provide sustainable sourcing. Ensuring sources are not competing with food, and farming is environmental.
•    Natural formed products how can we grow a product instead of manufacture one. Ecover grows surfactants from yeast and other materials that are radically low in environmental impact.
•    Be resourceful in user space and teach people proper usage behaviors.
•    Create cleaning products that make your home more healthy.
•    Partnering with cleaning appliance manufacturers to improve washing processes and be more efficient.
•    Change from selling cleaning product volume to new business models.
•    Create micro location manufacturing.
•    Improve manufacturing facility waste management.
•    Ultimately be a company that works symbiotically with both society and nature.

This model is capable of evolution and behaves like an organism rather than an organization. This has an opportunity to lead to a better world but needs business to change how they play the game. Market leaders breed a bias against progress and more of a focus on position maintenance. This It is easy to focus on incremental change rather than create a business to become a force of change. The hard truth is that business committed to sustainability must be committed to uncertainty which runs against common business practice and shareholder value. Ecover and Method both believe that this is biomimicry at an organizational level and is what is needed to make the world a better place and are committed to breaking business as usual.


You can watch their full presentation here:




 

The Causes and Conditions for Innovation

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 by

What Truly (And Honestly) Motivates Businesses and Their Leaders to Innovate.
In our currently fast-paced, digital age of economy virtually every business leader acknowledges the need for their company to innovate in order to stay ahead of the game. According to a recent New York Times article, innovation is “the crucial ingredient in all economic progress—higher growth for nations, more competitive products for companies, and more prosperous careers for individuals.” Because technology is now intertwined with nearly every aspect of business and developments, innovation is fast becoming a primary driver of market differentiation, business growth, and profitability.

Yet, despite the glaring need to do so, the hard realities we as business owners and leaders actually experience in our every day course of business somehow continuously limit our drive for innovation down to only a very few number of situations.  In fact in most cases there are very specific conditions, most of them not entirely positive, that we as leaders and business owners will have to encounter in order to truly drive us to innovate and initiate these kinds of changes in our current business. Let’s take a look at what some of these are.

Condition #1. The Sinking Ship.
Unfortunately, it is a sad reality for a large number of established businesses that who have for years enjoyed continuity in their business often become too comfortable in their current mode of doing business and state of affairs.  It is always that ease found when the ship has been sailing a steady and due course under fair weather conditions, not to mention the pride of success that we enjoy from continuous business, which affords a certain sense of stagnation in a companies’ efforts to further develop their services, products, and general operations and rethink the way it does business.  Just in these moments when we stop paying attention to competitors, ignore what the market is doing and refuse to consider new developments in technology when essential disruptions and quick yet dramatic market changes occur without our noticing.  Our forgotten mindset toward innovation is exactly the conditions which allow for our company to ignore changes, opportunities and developments in the industry and fail to reconsider new customer needs.

This creates the perfect opportunity for new and developing competitors to come in and disrupt things and suddenly the game has already changed completely without our proper consideration and without further adjustment of our own business.  Suddenly, our business is sinking, without even having noticed the change in your marketplace, product or industry.  

At this last resort, we as the leader struggle to grab the wheel and plug the deep hole that is bringing our ship down in our very last hour with the hopes of bringing back the company’s competitive edge and value (Ex: Think when Netflix took over Blockbuster).  Of course, under these kinds of negative conditions innovation becomes a “do or die” situation and we are innovating out of a mindset of existentialism only.  This doesn’t exactly give us the most positive environment and space to innovate, but for some change in the very last hour can be the only cause that truly drives real and lasting change and forces innovation on a deeper level.

Condition #2. Fire In the Hole.
In Condition 2, we as the business leader, experience a wonderful growth of increasing sales and activity in our business. Yet, it is often at the point where solid growth occurs that we suffer instant growing pains to accompany our newfound abundance.  Quality control, customer service, business processes suddenly breakdown, and under these conditions we desperately search for ways to hang on to profit margins, maintain our reputation, and hold up to quality during this critical period of growth.  Essentially, our house is burning from the inside out, and suddenly the systems and models which so successfully brought us to our present point are now the causes for breaking us down again. At this point we again become reactive to the forces that demand our attention to innovate purely as a means of avoiding our extreme discomforts, imminent fears of demise and pains of operation.

Condition #3. The Golden Goose: Why Not Innovate? Just Too Darn Busy Counting Stacks.
Is There Ever Time For Innovation? Absolutely!
There are of course times where we have worked so hard to come to some level of successful operation in our business - customers are there, sales are going great, operations running steady -  but we are nonetheless faced with the nagging dilemma, “Can we really afford to take precious time away from our immediate and critical business activities to ensure we are innovating and developing our business? Is it really worth sacrificing time from our day-to-day business to think beyond where we are?  Do these activities really ensure for a steady future?” It is under these conditions where we as a leader have the golden opportunity of positive conditions, a current thriving business, where we are in the best possible situation to be able to start to understand and realize the benefit of managed and strategic innovation.  It is here when we are truly willing to afford the proper time, space and energy to develop our business and make changes for the better.  When we empower ourselves with the proper insight to look beyond our current way of business, we can in these moments take a look at challenging those existing methods, strategies and explore possibilities that allow for controlled improvements and break-though developments.

The real and essential difference here is in the mindset we hold towards our business and towards innovation.  When we have the surplus of positive business conditions then we naturally hold a positive mindset towards innovation.  In order to experience the kind of lasting and sustainable results that come from effective innovation we must have the space to think strategically in the way we innovate and the strength to hold to a path that manages the workings of innovation in a way that becomes a part of what we do in our everyday business. Truly effective innovation requires the willingness to look beyond what is already working and the strength and diligence to continue to create a better, more unique business no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable the current operations and situation may be.

 

Laura Pretsch is a business advisor, innovator, entrepreneur and lifestyle aficionado. Laura has dedicated her life to developing the tools and understanding to help others innovate and create better lives. Laura is the Co-Founder ‘The Brilliant Leadership Company’.

 

  

 

GMOs in the News: Washington State Labeling Campaign in Full Swing

Sunday, June 16, 2013 by

The debate over genetically engineered foods continues to heat up in the U.S. Here's a summary of recent headlines. For those attending the 2013 LOHAS Business Conference, a seminar on GMOs and Labeling will be held on Thursday, June 20 featuring Ken Cook of Environmental Working Group, Robyn O'Brien of Allergy Kids, T.J. McIntyre of Boulder Brands, Lennon Bronsema of Yes on 522, and Steven Hoffman of Compass Natural Marketing.

Washington State Yes on 522 Launches GMO Labeling Campaign into Full Gear
With a new website, www.yeson522.com, the recent hiring of professional campaign management staff, and $1.1 million in contributions received, the Yes on 522 campaign to label GMO foods in Washington State is swinging into full gear and is appealing to natural and organic products business leaders to help fund what many experts say is the best opportunity to achieve mandatory GMO labeling in 2013. At a recent press conference, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), co-sponsor of the Boxer-DeFazio federal GMO labeling bill, said it is critically important to support the Washington State initiative to give greater weight to the Washington, DC, federal GMO labeling efforts, given biotech’s strong lobbying presence in the nation’s capitol. In a letter to donors, Yes on 522 finance chair David Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s reported that the campaign has launched an ambitious grassroots outreach program called “Kitchen Conversations,” in which advocates can receive a kit containing information to host informal gatherings among voters, and is rolling out a “Dining Out for 522” chef’s fundraising campaign. The campaign scheduled its first stakeholder meeting for May 31 in Seattle. Presence Marketing/Dynamic Presence is among the leading supporters of the Yes on 522 GMO labeling bill. Steven Hoffman of Compass Natural Marketing is helping lead fundraising efforts and outreach to natural and organic products industry leaders. For information and to contribute, visit www.yeson522.com.

Whole Foods Market Endorses Washington State’s Yes on 522 GMO Labeling Bill
Joining a coalition of leading Washington State-based retailers including PCC Natural Markets and Marlene’s Natural Foods Market and Delis, among others, Whole Foods Market on April 25 announced its support for the Yes on 522 (www.yeson522.com) campaign to label genetically engineered, or GMO, foods. In support of Yes on 522, Whole Foods Market launched a grassroots effort, Will Vote for Food (www.willvoteforfood.com) to engage consumers and build support for the ballot initiative. “This issue is about transparency and the consumer’s right to make informed decisions,” said Joe Rogoff, president of Whole Foods Market’s Pacific Northwest region. “We believe that growers using genetically modified seed, and producers using the products grown from those seeds, have an obligation to share that information with their public. And the price paid by the food industry for relabeling is a pittance compared to the distrust that increasingly results from their concealment. We support Yes on 522. At Whole Foods Market, we will vote for food.”

New Leaf Markets Require GMO Labeling; Terra Organica Labeling GMO Products In-Store
Following in the footsteps of Whole Foods Market, Santa Cruz, CA-based natural retailer New Leaf Community Markets announced it would require labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients in its seven stores by 2018. New Leaf was an early retail member of the Non-GMO Project and a strong supporter of California’s Prop 37 2012 GMO labeling measure, which was defeated by a narrow margin. New Leaf co-owner Scott Roseman commended Whole Foods for taking the lead on the labeling issue and said the five-year deadline gives manufacturers time to update packaging or research alternative ingredients. In related news, Stephen Trinkaus, owner of Terra Organica in Bellingham, WA, asked his customers what they wanted in terms of GMO labeling. The choices were: do nothing, label products that contain GMO ingredients, or get rid of the items altogether. Customers overwhelmingly chose labels, so Trinkaus began labeling products in the store that are likely to contain GMO ingredients. “I thought it would be simpler than it is,” Trinkaus told the Seattle Times. He wants customers to know if a manufacturer is working to replace GMO ingredients with non-GMO alternatives – many are after Whole Foods Market’s announcement to require GMO labeling in 2018, he said – and is revamping labels in his store to display more complex information.

Vermont, Maine Advance GMO Labeling Legislation
On May 14, despite concerns over lawsuit threats from the biotech industry, Maine’s House Agriculture Committee passed a GMO labeling measure on an 8-3 vote. The bill, LD 718, offered by Rep. Lance Harvell (R-Farmington) wouldn’t go into full effect until 2018, and only after four of the nine northeastern states approve similar laws. However, they may be one step closer to realizing that goal: on May 10, the Vermont House passed a mandatory GMO labeling bill by an overwhelming 107-37 vote, again, despite massive lobbying efforts by the GMO biotech industry and threats to sue the state. If approved by the state Senate and signed by the governor, the bill, H 112, could make Vermont the first state in the nation to require labeling of genetically modified foods. But the measure likely wouldn’t go into effect for two years, and it would not affect meat, milk or eggs from animals that were fed or treated with genetically engineered substances, including GMO corn and the rBGH cattle hormone. While GMO labeling is not required in the U.S., according to the Center for Food Safety, 64 countries, including China, Russia and all EU nations currently have GMO labeling laws in place.

Monsanto CEO Blames Social Media for “Elitist” Anti-GMO Sentiments
Citizens who are against genetically modified foods or are calling for mandatory labeling of GMO foods are guilty of “elitism” that is fanned by social media, and they fail to consider the needs of the rest of the world, said Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant in a May 15 interview with Bloomberg Press. “This place is getting busier and more crowded,” Grant said. “As long as you’ve got money in your back pocket and you drive your station wagon to the supermarket on weekends, then it’s out of sight, out of mind, so far.” The advent of social media helps explain why many people in the U.S. have come to oppose genetically engineered crops in recent years, Grant told Bloomberg. Grant feels that GMOs are the answer to feeding the world’s growing population, while opponents point to increased use of toxic synthetic pesticides associated with GMO agriculture, the fact the farmers can no longer save seed if they are practicing GMO farming, the potential contribution of GMO farming to global climate change, and peer-reviewed studies that warn of risks to human, animal and environmental health. In related news, executives from Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Chemical – among the world’s largest producers of GMO crops and pesticides, and owners of a significant majority of the world’s seed companies – told Reuters that they are developing a national promotional campaign aimed at turning the tide on growing public sentiment against GMO crops. With GMO labeling measures before the federal government and more than 20 states, the biotech firms seek to limit the spread of such initiatives, which the companies say would only confuse consumers and upset the food manufacturing industry, according to Reuters. The biotech industry is still working out details of their marketing campaign, but it will likely have a large social media component, the company executives said.

Supreme Court Rules for Monsanto in Seed Case
Rejecting an Indiana farmer’s argument that his planting of seeds he had bought second-hand did not violate Monsanto’s GMO seed patent, the U.S. Supreme Court on May 12 ruled unanimously that farmers must pay Monsanto each time they plant the company’s genetically engineered soybeans. Farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman asserted that because the company’s herbicide-resistant, Roundup Ready soybeans replicate themselves, he was not violating the company’s patent by planting progeny seeds he had purchased elsewhere. However, the justices unanimously rejected that claim, with Justice Elena Kagan writing there is no such “seeds-are-special” exception to the law. But Kagan warned that the Monsanto decision was a limited one and did not address every issue involving a self-replicating product. The court ordered Bowman, a conventional farmer, to pay nearly $85,000 in damages to Monsanto. The Supreme Court’s decision implies that Monsanto has the legal right to stop farmers from saving seeds from patented genetically modified crops one season, and plant them the next season.

More than 2 Million People Rally in 52 Countries to Protest GMO Giant Monsanto
From a single Facebook page started in February, the March Against Monsanto held on May 25 drew more than 2 million people in 52 countries and 436 cities to protest chemical giant Monsanto and the genetically engineered seeds it produces. “If I had gotten 3,000 people to join me, I would have considered that a success,” protest organizer Tami Canal told USA Today. “It was empowering and inspiring to see so many people, from different walks of life, put aside their differences and come together,” she said. The group plans to harness the success of the event to continue its anti-GMO cause. “We will continue until Monsanto complies with consumer demand. They are poisoning our children, poisoning our planet,” she said. “If we don’t act, who’s going to?” Protests were held in Los Angeles, Portland, OR, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and elsewhere around the globe. “As a single company, Monsanto is the tip of the iceberg representing the threat that unchecked corporate power has in corrupting our democratic institutions, driving family farmers off the land, threatening human health and contaminating our environment,” said Dave Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now, in a May 28 commentary in the Huffington Post.

After Being Rejected by Consumers, Will GMO Spuds Make a Comeback?
While the FDA weighs approval of GMO salmon, a dozen years after Monsanto ditched its GMO potato after disappointing sales, an Idaho company, J.R. Simplot, asked FDA in mid-May to approve five varieties of GMO potatoes. The varieties have been genetically engineered to avoid black spots and designed to have less acrylamide, a naturally occurring but potentially toxic chemical. Simplot, according to MSN News, sells potatoes to McDonald’s for its French fries, and McDonald’s rejects potatoes with black spots. The FDA is also reviewing the “Arctic” apple, genetically engineered by Canada-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits to resist turning brown when cut. While Simplot said 20 field trials demonstrate that GMO potatoes are virtually identical to their unmodified cousins, Bill Freese, senior policy analyst with Washington, DC-based Center for Food Safety, said that genetic engineering is a “noisy, unpredictable process,” where the best-intentioned genome tinkering could be accompanied by unforeseen effects on human health and the environment. “The biotech approach is to change the food on a genetic level in quite frankly risky ways with inadequate regulation to adapt a crop to an industrial food system that’s really unhealthy in so many ways,” he said.

Roundup Pesticide, Used in GMO Agriculture, Linked to Increase in Autism, Diabetes, Cancer
In a study published April 10, 2013, in the scientific publication Entropy, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology linked the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, the most widely used herbicide in the world and the one most closely associated with genetically engineered agriculture, to increases in the incidence of diabetes, autism, infertility and cancer in humans. Through the inhibition of a crucial enzyme, Cytochrome P450, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body, report the researchers, leading to gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases, Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff, Entropy 2013, Vol. 15, April 10, 2013. For a complete executive summary of peer-reviewed research demonstrating the human, animal and environmental health risks associated with GMOs in food and agriculture, click here.

 

Hurricanes: Bad for Business. LOHAS Conference: Good for Business!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 by

June 1 was the official start of hurricane season. It’s also the start of the “rainy season” here in Florida. Tropical Storm Andrea has already visited, dumping over 3 inches of rain in a couple of hours. We seem to be off to a fast start.

Causes for Concern 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), 2013 is expected to be an "active or extremely active" hurricane season.

At the same time, the Earth just crossed the threshold to 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. For those of you who don't follow climate issues, that's not good. According to the New York Times, that's the highest level in 3 million years. This level of CO2 warms the planet and provides the fuel for ever stronger hurricanes. It is no coincidence that 8 of the top 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history have occurred just since 2004.

For a wide-ranging view of the costs of climate change, read this study from the National Journal. It covers the many ways that climate change costs money right now.

As a Floridian, I have begun the usual preparations for hurricane season: stocking up on drinking water, non-perishable foods, batteries, First Aid kit, etc.

But as a small business person, I know that my green business is at risk from extreme weather. If the electricity goes out, so does my equipment – phones, laptop, printer. My connection to customers is lost, and my work for them is delayed.

That would make me an unreliable service provider – something I promise customers that I’ll never be.  My customers (bless them!) don’t care that the U.S. electric grid is fragile. They just want their stuff.

If the pond behind my house floods, then my home office may become a large puddle. It hasn’t happened in the 12 years we’ve been here – but it could. If I lose both power and my work location, a whole new set of costs and problems ensues. And I will lose time and money as I scramble to recover.

If the worst happens, e.g. Tampa gets hit squarely by a big hurricane, then there’s the possibility that my home and business get blown away. Which U.S. city is considered most overdue for a hurricane this year? According to NOAA, it’s Tampa. And yes, I do take that seriously.

Extreme weather means business disruption

Property damage, work delays, even death. We just saw a text book case of this with Hurricane Sandy last year. No business is immune. From the farmers who watch their drought-stricken crops wither in the field to the property insurers who have to pay out claim after claim (and sometimes don’t), no one benefits from extreme weather.

So why don’t businesses step forward and say – loudly and clearly - to their representatives, their customers and their suppliers: “Climate change is a big deal. We know it threatens our livelihoods as business people, and we know it’s a threat to you, our customers. Here’s what we plan to do about it, and here’s what you, our customers, can do to help.”

On the one hand, it’s a naïve question. On the other, it’s a simple, straight-forward one. Either way, it requires an answer.

I wonder at the continued folly of many big corporations around climate change. According to Ernest Moniz, formerly of MIT and newly-confirmed Secretary of the Energy Department: "We will need not only technology innovation and policy innovation to achieve a low-carbon future — but also business model innovation."

That’s a diplomatic way of saying, “The old “grow-at-all-costs, put-profits-first” model will be the death of us. We need a different approach.” The chances of that happening voluntarily – especially in the hide-bound energy sector - are slim.

And the energy industry is not alone. Professor Michael Toffel of Harvard Business School writes, "Corporate Sustainability is Not Sustainable." In short, he describes how the actions of even the best intentioned corporations to date are not up to the scale of the problem.

So, what to do?

One postitive step - go to the LOHAS conference next week!

And also:

  • Get educated about climate change and share what you know. You don't have to be a scientist to understand the basics of what is happening. One source of information I rely on is Climate Progress.
  • Lower your carbon foot print. LOHAS is a great source of information, but so are sites like Practically Green and Green America.
  • Vote with your dollars. Switch to greener products and services. Check out Vine.com - Amazon's market place for greener and more sustainable items. And explore the LOHAS Hub. Truly green businesses that transact with other green businesses move the economy in the direction it needs to go.

Is this a shameless plug for the LOHAS conference? Yes. (And no, Ted Ning didn’t put me up to this.) But attend, connect, and find at least one new way to support a more sustainable economy. That’s the value of the LOHAS conference: learn, do, and – oh yes! – enjoy!

 

Alison Lueders is the Founder and Principal oGreat Green Editing. She provides writing and editing services to green businesses and social enterprises that value high-quality content. She is a graduate of Harvard College and received her MBA from MIT. She earned her Bronze seal from Green America in April 2013 and Platinum-level recognition from the Green Business Bureau in 2012. 

3 steps to Finding your Voice and Creating Stronger Social Media Content

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 by

We have all heard it, read it, seen it and shared it: Content is King! We get it, we must be out there creating content. Besides for trying to figure out how much to say, how often to say it, where to post it etcetera, etcetera... we also have to figure out what to say. Ah, white screen death or, as it is more commonly known, writer’s block. What if I told you I have a fix for that? I can help you figure out what to say and how to say it and add value...let me show you. 

It starts by knowing:

1. why you are creating content

2. why people may want to listen to you and

3. what playground the people you want to reach are playing in.

 

Here we go, numbered for your convenience:
1.Why am I even trying to write this drivel?!?!?

Ask yourself the following questions: What is it that I truly do. Not your title at your business. When it comes right down to it, what do you do? Who do you help? How are you impacting the world? Office? Community? Individuals? 

Now, write down your answers. I’ll wait.

2. Why should people listen to you? AKA: What’s in it for them? Are you going to help them see their inner needs? Answer their financial questions and set them up for a lifetime of security? Get them in their house instead of wet and cold on the front stoop with no keys (I’m talking locksmith not burglar wise guys...)? Are you a hand holder, butt kicker, motivator, advocate? What will people get out of connecting with YOU, the individual?

OK, go write your answers down. Still waiting.

3. Where are your people? Ah, trick question. First you must know who your audience is and where they hang out. Ask them. Invite your clients to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram and Pinterest. See where they connect. Do most of your contacts prefer to Link in with you? Then concentrate the bulk of your efforts on LinkedIn and finding others who are similar to your best clients. Do your customers enjoy the gift of gab? Facebook away! Knowing where to post leads you to the next step of learning the language of that platform.

This may sound daunting but a simple way to learn the culture and communication style of any platform is by watching. Which Tweets get RT’d (retweeted) the most? Which pictures get the most repins? What are your clients liking and sharing? Watch how others use your platform of choice and find your own style. Social media is not a one size fits all operation.

Now, go check out some sites.
Hey, I did not say get lost in the interwebs for four hours! Come back!

Now you know why you are writing, what’s in it for them and where they are hanging out. Whenever you find yourself at a loss for words look back at your notes (I know you took some, right?) and let them act as a jumping off point for what you want to communicate. 

We live in a social media driven world because people love stories. Share your stories, add value to your clients and the world and always Be Authentic!

For more small business social media and community building tips and tools contact: Dafna Michaelson dafna@journeyinstitute.org www.journeyinstitute.org

Attend the  Creating Engaging Content for Getting Found and Being Chosen Social Media Workshop presented Dafna Michaelson hosted by Dex Digital on June 18th during the LOHAS Business Conference in Boulder.  For more information on your business’ findability score please visit: www.HowFindableAreYou.com/LOHAS

Get your Findable Score™. It's fast, free and easy! Learn how consumers search for businesses in your industry and get advice to improve your visibility. Your score is free and so is the marketing insight.

In Praise of Telecommuting

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 by

telecommutingYahoo's decision to end their work-from-home policy caused quite a stir. I won't second-guess Marissa Mayer's decision to do this, because I'm not there. She's got on-the-ground knowledge.

However, as a long-time telecommuter and huge fan of this mode of work, I would leave Yahoo rather than give it up. Here's why:

From a green business perspective, telecommuting is a Triple Bottom Line practice.

People - Commuting to work is generally not adored by those who do it. Telecommuting:

  • Gives you back your life - literally. How much of your life do you want to spend sitting in traffic? My last employer was 15 miles away, a 30 to 45-minute trip during rush hour. When the traffic was really bad, it was closer to 90 minutes a day. Conservatively, that's 5 hours a week for 50 weeks a year or 250 hours a year. Do the math for your commute. Really think about that number. You never get that time back.
  • Reduces stress. For me, almost any activity is less stressful than driving in rush hour traffic. And stress, as a recent Fortune article reminds us, can kill you. Among other things, I use the extra time to sleep. That's not lazy - that's healthy. Wondering if being crazy-busy is bad for you? It is.

Planet - If the Earth could hug people, it would hug telecommuters because they:

  • Use less gas. And thus are responsible for less pollution related to the drilling for, transporting, refining and distributing of oil and gasoline.
  • Produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. In my case, not driving an extra 7500 miles per year avoids about 3400 pounds of GHG emissions. TerraPass has a simple calculator to help figure out what you could save, based on your specific car and commute.
  • Can drive their cars longer. My Honda Civic Hybrid is 10 years old. Not buying a new car - with all the attendant steel, rubber, plastic, glass, fabric, electronics, wiring, etc. required - conserves natural resources for the planet.

Profit - Telecommuting cuts costs and boosts revenues for my business.

  • Cost savings include:
    • Lower car maintenance bills. I replace tires, brakes, oil and so on less frequently because I drive my car less. The Honda dealer has actually tried to buy my Civic back becuase it's in such good condition.
    • Lower bills for gas. Driving 7500 miles less per year means using about 166 fewer gallons of gas. At $3.50 a gallon X 166 gallons, I save about $583 a year. If you don't drive a hybrid, you'll save a lot more.
    • No tolls. My old route cost $3.50 a day, $17.50 a week, about $875 annually.
  • More revenue comes from:
    • Using the extra 250 hours a year to do more billable work. I don't burn the midnight oil. I just use the time otherwise lost in commuting.
    • Using the extra time to invest in ongoing business education. From conferences to courses to reading business books, it's essential in order to provide the best client service. 

These are MY numbers. According to Global Workplace Analytics, some 3 million Americans telecommute some or all of the time. That's a fraction of the number who could telecommute. I encourage you to try it!

Tips for Successful Telecommuting

How you telecommute really depends on your work style. There's no one right way to do it. Here are 5 tips that work for me:

Logistics

  • Have an office space with the proper equipment. Have people who can troubleshoot your equipment when it acts up.
  • Office doors physically separate my workspace from the rest of my life. When my daughter was young, she knew that closed doors meant that Mom was working and she had to wait. Unless she was bleeding. My doors have big glass insets, so I could see if she was bleeding.

Mindset

  • Focus on results. When I write something for a client, they don't care if I wrote it at Starbucks or behind my office desk. They just want it to be good and achieve their business objectives. Businesses that don't trust that you are working unless they can see you are behind the times.

Operating procedures

  • Maintain regular communications with your boss and co-workers, or with clients. It keeps isolation at bay and ensures you are in the loop when circumstances change. Take the initiative to overcome the "out of sight, out of mind" syndrome.
  • Get out of the house every day. Continual sitting is actually a health risk, so don't feel guilty about taking breaks. It gives both body - and your creativity - a boost.

Telecommuting and kids

One thing I did not do was work from home and try to care for my child at the same time. My daughter always had childcare in a different location. That choice worked well for my family. Your choice may differ.

So telecommute if you can!

It's a win for you, your clients, and the planet. How often is that the case?

Final shout out: Here's A Visual Breakdown of the Benefits of Working from Home from the LOHAS blog in October 2012.

Alison Lueders is the Founder and Principal of Great Green Editing. She provides writing and editing services to businesses and social enterprises that value high-quality content. She earned her Bronze seal from Green America in April 2013 and Platinum-level recognition from the Green Business Bureau in 2012.

 

 

 

Magic, Minneapolis, LOHAS & Ted.

Friday, May 17, 2013 by

While most LOHASIANS gather in Boulder, Colorado yearly for the international LOHAS Forum, LOHAS came to Minneapolis this week as  kindred business spirits chatted over glasses of organic wine and uniquely delicious appetizers.

Uniquely delicious is exactly what LOHAS is. A nearly $300 billion market psychograhic that unites the powerful  consumer force that's made recycling,hybrids, organic food, energy-efficient lighting and more mainstream—LOHAS is all about experience.

That's what you get at the LOHAS Forum June 18 - 20th as progressive, earth-and life-changing business leaders gather to inspire and get inspired.

As a pioneer in green and wellness marketing, I was one of the first marketers to begin speaking LOHAS in the mid '90s. I've been fluent ever since, bringing this unique brand of experience, passion and positive change to organizations like Green Mountain EnergyUtne ReaderThe Organic Center and more.

Having known LOHAS president, Ted Ning,  for more than a decade, I can tell you with certainty that he is a passionate force for change. His level of commitment, innovation and dedication to all things experiential is part of the alchemy of LOHAS. So join me and Ted at the LOHAS Forum. It's only once a year. And it's pure magic.

Lisa Proctor is the president and creative director of firefly180 marketinga Minneapolis-based branding and advertising agency that specializes in LOHAS marketing, wellness marketing, green marketing and renewable energy marketing.

 

The 6 Best Ways To Distinguish Your Business Online

Monday, May 13, 2013 by

distinguishable online businessby Mike Michalowicz

I had an eye opening moment one year ago, almost to the day.  I was curious about how effective my website was at engaging visitors.  What better way to determine that, than to see how long people stayed when they landed on my site.  The numbers were shocking!  Nearly 85% of my site’s visitors didn’t stay for more than eight seconds!  Eight measly seconds.

Do you get how bad that is?  That is the same as inviting a guest over for a nice dinner and drinks, and when you open the door to greet them, they look at you, smile and say “It was great seeing you. I gotta run. Have a great night.  Oh, and I’ll never be back.” Ahh!  They didn't even get to taste that delicious homemade apple pie I baked. It's my specialty you know.

Now, imagine that scenario again. This time the doorbell rings, I open the door wearing a tuxedo with a maid and butler at my side.  And the butler has a fresh, steaming slice of apple pie for my guest to sample.  I suspect my visitor would have something new to say.  “Whoa... what’s going on here? You know I had to run, but holy cow, apple pie a la mode?!?  I’m staying!”

That is exactly what I did for my website, and you can do for yours.  I made the simple and inexpensive changes to make my site distinguished.  Mow those eight five percenters are staying for an average of one minute and three seconds.  That is equivalent to eating two slices of apple pie in web time.  And the rest of my visitors?  They are averaging almost five minutes.  That’s effectively a sleep over! 

Here is how you make your site distinguished, and have people really digging in:

  1. Real Pictures And Lots Of Them – Ditch the stock photography, and post real pictures of you and your employees.  But don’t use your favorite headshot from highschool (even though you are in your fifties now), instead use a variety of current photos.  The more variety of great shots of you and your team, the more you will become a mini-celebrity in your prospect’s eyes.  Talk about being distinguished.
  2. Have Your Own Distinct Voice – People relate to others who are like them. Most people aren't watered down and boring (Are you? I didn't think so!), so how come so many sites are? Have your site be consistent with your own natural voice and style.  The goal here isn’t to make everyone happy (you can’t).  The goal is to make the right people to feel a connection with you.
  3. Always Be Blogging - Forget the ABC’s of business, start doing the ABB’s (Always Be Blogging).  Blogs have lost their cache over the years, ironically making them more influential.  As less people blog, your blog will get even better SEO.  Just make sure you maintain your distinct voice, and speak about the industry you're in and what you do.
  4. Let The People Speak – Let your following (web visitors) share their voice too. Enable commenting on your blogs, and respond to the comments people post.  Use tools like MediaRoomVIP that allow you to pose a question to your community and have it automatically compile their responses into a blog post.  Hey look at that, there's that blogging again!
  5. Integrated Social Media - Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Youtube.  The list goes on and on.  All these social media platforms are powerful ways for your web visitors to keep attuned to your goings on.  The problem is they are all over the place. Used widgets or plugins to integrate your social media directly onto your site. Now people can stay on your site while seeing all the stuff you are tweeting about simultaneously.
  6. Give Me Some Variety – Pictures and text are mandatory for a good website, but you shouldn’t stop there.  Add videos, podcasts, infographics, social media feeds, live chats, group video conferences, along with the pictures and text to keep things fresh.  It offers a great way to repurpose content (e.g. a video can be redone into an infographic), and it surely makes your site distinguished.

What are the first thing you are going to do to make your site distinguished?  Share your ideas below.   And if you want a little inspiration, you can visit my site at www.MikeMichalowicz.com to see how I made it distinguished.  Maybe you will stay for at least one minute and three seconds!

Attend the Get Found and Be Chosen presented Barry Moltz hosted by Dex Digital on June 19th during the LOHAS Business Conference in Boulder. For more information on your business’ findability score please visit: www.HowFindableAreYou.com/LOHAS

Get your Findable Score™. It's fast, free and easy! Learn how consumers search for businesses in your industry and get advice to improve your visibility. Your score is free and so is the marketing insight.

The Case for Building a Fiercely Loyal Community

Thursday, May 2, 2013 by

fierce loyaltyI know you may be thinking “Why do I need to read about the case for building a community? Everyone already knows it’s the latest and greatest marketing trend.” Which is precisely my point.

If all the community building going on right now is only based on the fact that it’s a marketing trend, it’s doomed to be just another flash in the pan. And haven’t we all had enough of those?

If, however, you build your community with a solid understanding of the fundamental business ROI that a community can bring to the table, it will be an integral part of your business success strategy. And isn’t that what we’re all after?

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get neck deep in what I call The ROI of a Fiercely Loyal Community:

ROI #1 – Raving Fans Who Will Help You Spread The Word

In this loud crowded marketplace we all operate in, it’s really really critical to have a group of people who will help you spread the word about what you are up to.

What makes them want to spread the word?

Maybe you’ve let them beta-test your latest new thing for free and they’ve found out how awesome it is. Maybe you asked them to help you create your latest new thing so they feel ownership in it. Or maybe you’ve made them feel like such a vital part of what you are doing that they feel invested in making sure it succeeds.

ROI #2: A Grassroots Research and Development Team

A fiercely loyal community that is invested in your success is like having access to a brain trust comprised of your ideal clients.

Instead of just asking them what they want, tap into their imaginations. Empower them to help you tease out the real problems they are facing so you can co-design powerful solutions. Let them play with the stuff you’re working on so they can help you make it better before you ever release it to the public.

ROI #3: A Client Base Waiting to Gobble Up Whatever You Offer

You’ve got to have clients and customers to stay in business right? Imagine clients who’ve been involved in helping you design and build your latest thing. They know it’s going to solve their problem and that it’s going to fit them like a glove. Think they’ll want to buy it?

Even if they haven’t been intimately involved in the design process, bring them along with you as you are designing. Ask them questions. Learn who they are. This insider feeling helps them see how you design solutions just for them.

ROI #4: Reduced Customer/Client Attrition

We’ve all heard it: “It’s cheaper to keep a client than it is to go out and get a new one.” Happy, thriving, fiercely loyal communities are your greatest asset in keeping your current clients and customers engaged with you.

When your clients are engaged in your community and feel like it plays a vital role in their lives and/ or their businesses, they aren’t likely to leave you for the latest and greatest widget. Leaving you means leaving the community and that is just a price they aren’t willing to pay.

ROI #5: Happier Customers and Clients

Happy customers and clients are a delight to do business with. They complain less, refer more business and actually may spend more money with you.

Did you know that all of the happiness research out there points to two things that are most vital to our happiness: connection and engagement? Many of your customers and clients are actively looking for this connection and engagement. When you provide that for them, they will see you as a source of happiness. Which is a pretty awesome (and uncommon) thing for a business to provide.

So there you are. Five solid business ROI’s of a Fiercely Loyal Community. Which ones speak to you? Which ones would have the biggest and/or most immediate impact on your business? Focus on building your community to achieve those ROI’s first, then focus on the others. You’ll be well on your way to creating a Fiercely Loyal Community that is anything but a flash in the pan.

Attend the Get Found and Be Chosen presented Barry Moltz hosted by Dex Digital on June 19th during the LOHAS Business Conference in Boulder. For more information on your business’ findability score please visit: www.HowFindableAreYou.com/LOHAS

Get your Findable Score™. It's fast, free and easy! Learn how consumers search for businesses in your industry and get advice to improve your visibility. Your score is free and so is the marketing insight.

Barry MoltzArticle By Barry Moltz - Barry is a nationally recognized expert on small business who has given hundreds of presentations to audiences ranging in size from 20 to 20,000. Barry Moltz gets business owners growing again by unlocking their long forgotten potential.  With decades of entrepreneurial experience in his own business ventures as well as consulting countless other entrepreneurs, Barry has discovered the formula to get stuck business owners unstuck and marching forward.  Barry applies simple, strategic steps to facilitate change. Details on Barry can be found on his website www.barymoltz.com.

Green Spas And Salons: How To Make Your Business Truly Sustainable

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 by

Green Spas And Salons: How To Make Your Business Truly Sustainable, a new book for the Spa/Salon/Hospitality Industry by Shelley Lotz, helps owners and managers develop smart, sustainable practices for long-term business success.

This unique guidebook summarizes business practices, sustainability principles, and green building  all in one. The book sifts through the “green hype” to focus on best practices. This guidebook goes beyond the spa industry and most  of the principles are applicable to any business or lifestyle. 

  Planning guides with personalized action plans, how-to steps, and worksheets are included. Tools are given for evaluating services, products, supplies, operations, and building elements. Ideas for staff engagement, client needs, and marketing are incorporated, along with the science and the economics of sustainability. Guidelines for purchasing, water and energy conservation, waste reduction, and indoor environmental quality are all covered. 

  The book is described by Mary Bemis (Founder of Insider's Guide to Spas, and Founding Editor of  Organic Spa Magazine) as “an invaluable resource for spa and salon owners.”  Kristi Konieczny,   Founder of The Spa Buzz, says “The most powerful and practical resource for sustainability of spa and salon operations I have ever seen.”

Visit www.greenspasandsalons.com  for more information.

Inspiring spa case studies include: Agave Spa, Aji Spa and Salon, Atlanta School of Massage, Be Cherished Salon and Day Spa, Complexions Spa, Crystal Spa, Elaia Spa, Glen Ivy Hot Springs, Natural Body Spa and Shop, Naturopathica, Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, Spa Anjali, Spa at Club Northwest, Spa Moana, Sundara Inn and Spa, The New Well, Vdara Spa and Salon, and Waterstone Spa.

Shelley Lotz has over 25 years of experience in the spa/wellness/beauty industry as an esthetician, educator, and business owner. She is a major contributing author of Milady’s Standard Esthetics Fundamentals, a core textbook for esthetician students. She started an institute of aesthetics and is also a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. Contact her at lotz.shelley@gmail.com.

The book will be featured at LOHAS and Ted Ning is one of the book contributors, as the LOHAS philosophy is a key part of the green business movement. 

 

LOHAS: You Had Me at Hello

Monday, April 22, 2013 by

This is my first blog post for LOHAS and I’m happy to be here. I’ve been reading LOHAS newsletters for over a year now. I nodded in agreement so often that I jumped at the chance to join the conversation.

A focus on green business

While LOHAS covers many topics, my posts will focus mostly on green business. I am an MBA and spent many years in corporate America before leaving to start my own green business in 2011.

I believe that business can and should play a key role in the transition to a greener economy. Traditional big businesses have enormous financial and people resources at their disposal.  When they decide to move in a particular direction, they can do so with an impact that a small business can’t match.

Unfortunately, in my experience, big business's singular focus on quarterly profits conflicts with the vision, courage and patience necessary to reinvent themselves as truly sustainable enterprises.

So while I celebrate all businesses that move in a greener direction, I see smaller (and privately owned) businesses as leading the way for now. They have a nimbleness and a willingness to embrace change that larger businesses often lack. I suspect that until government mandates the changes necessary to move sustainable practices from optional to mandatory, certain business players will remain in the old, unsustainable model. In the meantime the rest of us need to charge ahead.

The sustainable business view from here

I also want to share the view from my current home in Tampa, Florida. Despite its moniker as the “Sunshine State,” Florida lags on policies ranging from renewable power standards to mass transit. One reason I read LOHAS is to keep up with developments in places like California and Colorado that are – ahem – ahead of Florida in this regard.

We have astonishingly beautiful natural resources in Florida. (That's a roseate spoonbill in the picture above.) From the Everglades to the Gulf beaches, there is “natural capital” here that needs to be protected. Not just because it’s pretty – although you’d think a state whose largest industry is tourism would understand its value. But because when the natural environment is healthy, so are the people – physically and economically.

Here are 3 challenges I’ve encountered as a green business owner. Which ones resonate with you?

Lack of awareness – when I say “green”, many people think I am referring to the color, or that I am describing myself as a newbie. (I’m not.) The topic of greener business is generally not on people’s radar here.

The schools educate kids about sustainability issues better than the mainstream media does for adults. Case in point: I asked a local publisher several years ago why his Florida business-focused magazine did not have a regular feature on green business. He replied that his readers (of whom I am one) weren’t interested in that. I find that stories about green business, green jobs and green learning programs are generally under-reported.

Fragmentation of effort – there is tremendous fragmentation and lack of coordination across green businesses, nonprofits and government agencies when it comes to efforts to go green. When I go to EcoFests, green business networking events and climate change conferences,  I am struck at how many well-intentioned people are struggling to do basically the same things. Imagine if all this effort and resource were consolidated and coordinated in an organized fashion. The whole impact could be greater than the sum of the parts.

Under-funding – too many businesses still see sustainable business practices as optional or a PR move. It’s long past time to invest in something more than recycling bins. To me, green business is a money-making venture for everyone.  Did you know that green jobs are the fastest growing sector in the economy?

The Good News

There is a lot going on under the radar. Last week I attended the 5th Annual Sustainable Business Awards at the University of Tampa. 13 winners collected awards and applause for their “triple bottom line” approach to business. Their businesses ranged from LED lighting to community-supported agricultural farms to recycled air filters. With one or two exceptions, you probably wouldn’t recognize any of their names. But these are the business that will shape the future.

Opportunities in green business are limitless. As a business person, I see the need to reinvent our economy in a more sustainable fashion not just as a daunting challenge, but as a huge opportunity.  To make a good living while helping to save the planet  - what’s not to love?

What do YOU want to hear about?

So that’s LOHAS blog post #1 for me. Let me know your thoughts and tell me what you’d like to hear about in future posts.

About the Author

Alison Lueders is the Founder and Principal oGreat Green Editing. She provides writing and editing services to green businesses and social enterprises that value high-quality content. She ensures that their content and communications – their business face to the world – are correct, clear and compelling. She is a graduate of Harvard College and received her MBA from MIT. She earned her Bronze seal from Green America in April 2013 and Platinum-level recognition from the Green Business Bureau in 2012.

She can be reached at info@greatgreenediting.com and at 813-968-1292.

Green Jobs: Resources for Careers in Natural, Organic and Sustainable Products

Monday, April 22, 2013 by

Here at Compass Natural Marketing, a lot of folks ask us about resources for finding jobs and career opportunities in the $300 billion LOHAS market, i.e., the “Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability” market for natural, organic, eco-friendly, and socially and environmentally responsible products and services.

There are a lot of great companies and NGOs in the LOHAS market, from organic food to renewable energy and from yoga to green building. In fact, with significant growth in demand for natural, organic and sustainable products, according to the Organic Trade Association, the organic food industry is creating jobs at a much higher rate than the conventional food industry.

Here are some good resources below for finding jobs in the natural and organic foods and sustainable products industry, and for social and environmental mission based organizations.

Of course, if you identify companies you’d like to work for, check their websites. Often, the larger companies, such as Whole Foods Market, UNFI, Pacific Natural Foods, Earthbound Farm, and other brand leaders will have job postings on their own websites. Do some research of your favorite brands.

We welcome your comments and suggestions to add to the list.

Green Job Resources

Green Dream Jobs. You can search by level and region. Awesome resource presented by our friends at SustainableBusiness.com.
www.sustainablebusiness.com/jobs/

Here’s a great resource for sales, marketing, management and executive level jobs in the Denver/Boulder region, created by our friend and colleague Luke Vernon.
www.lukescircle.com

Also, GreenBiz has a great sustainable jobs board.
http://jobs.greenbiz.com

TreeHugger has green job listings.
http://jobs.treehugger.com

Sustainable Industries posts green jobs across the country.
http://sustainableindustries.com/jobs

Just Means job listings have a social mission and NGO focus.
http://www.justmeans.com/alljobs

Natural and Organic Industry Resources. A good compendium of industry resources.
http://naturalindustryjobs.com/natural-organic-foods.asp

Naturally Boulder is another resource for job listings in the Boulder/Denver region.
http://www.naturallyboulderproducts.com/news/#jobs

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Wanting a Peace Corps-like volunteer experience, but on an organic farm somewhere around the world where you can learn about organic agriculture? Feeling young and adventurous? Check out WWOOF.
http://www.wwoof.org

Green Career Guide job thread.
http://greencareerguide.jobthread.com

California Certified Organic Farmers, an excellent organization for organic producers, posts job listings.
http://www.ccof.org/classifieds.php#emp

ReWork:  Founded in 2011 by alumni of the Unreasonable Institute in Boulder, ReWork helps people find careers in values-based, socially responsible and sustainable businesses.
http://rework.jobs/talent

Hope this helps get you started. Happy green job hunting!

________________________________________________

Steven Hoffman is Managing Director of Compass Natural LLC, a full service marketing communications, public relations and business development agency serving natural, organic and sustainable business. Hoffman is Co-founder of the LOHAS Forum annual market trends conference, former Editorial Director of New Hope Natural Media’s natural and organic products trade publication division, and former Program Director of Natural Products Expo East and West. A former Peace Corps volunteer and agricultural extension agent, Hoffman holds a M.S. in Agriculture from Penn State University. Contact steve@compassnatural.com.

Why Do I Need a Brand? My Customers Already Know Me!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 by

Many small business owners ask this same question, whether they are a plumber, lawyer or landscape architect, they want to know why they need a brand. To them, it seems like a waste of time and money. They are too busy finding customers to focus on building a brand!

In this increasingly crowded business world, it is very difficult to stand out from other companies. Access to the internet coupled with next day shipping has removed most distribution barriers and many products have become commodities.  To the consumer, many companies provide similar products or services, so they just search for the lowest price.

A company's brand ensures their value can stand out out from their competitors. It also helps that the company can "get found" when a customer is shopping. It makes them memorable to the consumer!

In any economy, people buy when they are in pain and have the money to solve that it. Any marketing activity a company does ensures that the business can get found when the customer is ready to buy. If the company can't be found by the customer, they have no chance of being chosen. A consumer has to consider that company (i.e. put them in the “maybe” pile) to get a sale. Most successful companies get chosen over 33% of the time they are considered by a customer. The key to growing a business is to get considered by more shopping customers.

Some small-businesses confuse a brand with a logo. A brand separates the company from their competitor. It is an emotional experience. What will the customer see and feel when interacting with a company?  The brand is what the company is known for, the pain it solves and its values. Alternately, a logo is just a graphical representation of the company's name. While the logo can be recognizable, it is not the brand.

Consumers will pay more for brands that add value. For example, what comes to mind when a consumer thinks of Apple? The company is known for innovative, hip, easy to use, and expensive technology. This is evident in all Apple's products and stores. For consumers, the Apple brand clearly adds more value since Apple is one of the most valuable company in the world. Similarly, the Starbucks' brand is not just about selling coffee, they are seen as a warm and friendly atmosphere where customers can stay awhile.

Brands help companies connect with the consumer's pain. Remember, a valuable service is what a customer seeks, not what the company wants to provide.

Developing a brand is an investment process. Consumers stay loyal to brands they buy and remember.  It makes it harder for them to switch to a competitor. In this social media connected world, eventually satisfied customers will promote the company's brand making it even more powerful.

Article By Barry Moltz - Barry is a nationally recognized expert on small business who has given hundreds of presentations to audiences ranging in size from 20 to 20,000. Barry Moltz gets business owners growing again by unlocking their long forgotten potential.  With decades of entrepreneurial experience in his own business ventures as well as consulting countless other entrepreneurs, Barry has discovered the formula to get stuck business owners unstuck and marching forward.  Barry applies simple, strategic steps to facilitate change. Details on Barry can be found on his website www.barymoltz.com.

Attend the  Get Found and Be Chosen  presented Barry Moltz hosted by Dex Digital on June 19th during the LOHAS Business Conference in Boulder.  For more information on your business’ findability score please visit: www.HowFindableAreYou.com/LOHAS

Get your Findable Score™. It's fast, free and easy! Learn how consumers search for businesses in your industry and get advice to improve your visibility. Your score is free and so is the marketing insight.

8 things That Makes the LOHAS Conference Unique

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 by

LOHAS Forum

1.    Cross section of attendees is like no other event. LOHAS brings together Fortune 500 companies with start up entrepreneurs, investors, nonprofits, thought leaders and media who all want to make the world a better place. It is a great networking event for those who want to stretch their comfort zone and meet new people.

2.    On the cutting edge of what is next. LOHAS has many cutting edge thought leaders, researchers and visionary presenters who have a pulse on trends that often become mainstream. If you want to know what will be mainstream in 2-5 years then the LOHAS conference is a must attend event.

3.    Permission to drop the armor of image is granted and expected.  Everyone at the event wants to know who each other is at heart first and then get to professional interests second. This makes the networking much easier as attendees are sincerely attentive to each other’s needs.

4.    Market data worth thousands of dollars is presented by a variety of green market trend specialists. Those that are interested on what is happening in the LOHAS space can collect a tremendous amount of insight from these highly sought presentations.

5.    LOHAS is Embedded Into Boulder. LOHAS uses distinctive historic landmarks in downtown Boulder as the venue for attendees to experience the charm of the city during the conference during June.

6.    LOHAS has a Legendary Gift Room. Rather than provide a pre stuffed conference bag of brochures that are typically dumped in the hotel room we provide a gift room of various items from LOHAS companies that attendees can pick and choose from. Attendees love this and the gift bags are usually quite stuffed when people leave the room!

7.    Program content transcends green business to include elements to connect with the human spirit and community in a way that is energetic and inspiring.

8.    Not just a conference but a community celebration! We have a variety of ways built into the event ranging from morning yoga and meditation to musical entertainment to after parties to engage the senses for attendees.

Don't miss out. We would love to see you there! REGISTER HERE.
 

 

Ted Ning is renowned for leading the annual LOHAS Forum, LOHAS.com and LOHAS Journal the past 9 years Ted Ning is widely regarded as the epicenter of all things LOHAS leading many to affectionately refer to him as ‘Mr. LOHAS’. He is a change agent, trend spotter and principal of the LOHAS Group, which advises large and small corporations on accessing and profiting from the +$300 billion lifestyles of health and sustainability marketplace.  The LOHAS Group is a strategy firm focusing on helping companies discover, create, nurture and develop their unique brand assets.  For more information on Ted visit  www.tedning.com

Conscious Leadership: What Happens When Love and Passion Guide Your Decisions

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 by

I've been working with business owners for more than three decades.  When I first got started in the business world it was with a company called the Whole LIfe Expo.  We were organizing consumer expositions for those people interested in natural lifestyles and products.  Back then, we referred to it as "new age" - as this was the post-hippie, post-love era.  

As a salesman selling exhibit booths and advertising space for the holistic lifestyle company above, I remember lots of the customers I sold to talking in terms of being more "conscious", participating in "consciousness raising" activities or promoting "higher consciousness".  It all had an airy-fairy kind of connotation to me back then.  After all, I was in business trying to sell something and I was more concerned about whether they were buying what I was selling.  

But, today, the term "conscious" is back in vogue.  I guess we can thank John Mackey of Whole Foods for bringing it back in style.  Today, I know people running organizations and events using the terms of "conscious capitalism", "conscious leadership" and "Consious Life Expo."  

So, what's this all about?

As a business leader, you must remember that the foundation of your business isn't money, it's people!  It's your people who produce your goods or services for sale and it's people who consume or use them.  When you start seeing your business as the function of many people coming together to deliver value, this will enable you to act with kindness, generosity of spirit and even love.

At a dinner I attended recently put on by the founder of Conscious Leadership, the CEO of Patagon, Casey Sheahan, shared a story of a conversation he had with his wife during a difficult period in the company's history.  Here's my paraphrasing of the conversation:

Casey to his wife: I have to layoff employees if we going to be profitable in (the slumping economy of) 2009. Even though I hate to do this, I will present this to the board next week.

CEO's Wife: Are you making this recommendation to the board out of FEAR or LOVE?

Casey: I guess FEAR.  We don't have the losses, but we're projecting them.

CEO's Wife: Well, you always talk about the business being one big family.  Would you do this to your family? What if you came from LOVE, not FEAR.  What would you do?

That got him thinking.  The CEO said that he came up with 10 ways the company could save money and cut costs (e.g., have employees wash the store windows instead of using an outside service) and keep his employees employed. He was transparent with his team about the position they were in.  Nobody was fired. And....

The result was Patagonia's best year ever...and the best 5 years in the history of the business.  

A passion for people is at the heart of business and leadership.  Let it guide your business decisions and help you reap lasting success.

If you have an example of where you let passion, not profits, guide your thinking and it served both masters, please write me.

 

Conscious Money & Conscious Capitalism

Friday, January 25, 2013 by

Two of today’s greatest megatrends, Conscious Money and Conscious Capitalism, are cut from the same financial cloth. And each of these innovative strategies flies in the face of conventional money thinking—which insists that human values should play no role whatsoever in financial decisions. That view is clearly incorrect. Values powerfully shape our choices (even if we’re unaware of it) and our behavior. Our choices and actions write the story of our lives—and our money lives. I’d go even further: positive values support us make better financial choices. Why? Because values engage the heart in the way that sound financial practices honor the head. When heart and head are in sync, our emotions are steady, our mind is settled, and our direction is clear—all of which enhance our ability to make good economic decisions.

Today, conscious finance attracts more followers daily as business leaders and “ordinary” people alike seek new monetary models that integrate values into finance. The $290 billion LOHAS market of course, is well known to many, but consider also the $3.74 trillion Sustainable Responsible Investing (SRI) industry, which has expanded 22 percent since 2010. Each of these robust sector, which have continued to thrive despite a weak economic recovery, embody Conscious Money, illustrating how compatible values and money really are. So much for conventional thinking. In fact, traditional financial and consumer brands avidly pursue the LOHAS and SRI markets. 
Conscious Capitalism is a new breed of free enterprise that honors people, purpose, and the planet. Embraced by visionary CEOs, in the US and globally, Conscious Capitalism differs from traditional capitalism because it endorses the “stakeholder model” of business which considers the interests of all parties that contribute to corporate success—customers, employees, investors, suppliers, communities, and the planet at large. Traditional capitalist theory by contrast tends to place investors first. For example, the late Milton Friedman, a Nobel laureate in economics, famously stated: “The social responsibility of business is to increase profit.” Conscious Capitalists are typically highly committed to growing profit, as well, but go they about it in a different way: by embracing a purpose above and beyond profit, such as promoting personal health or global sustainability. Human values like trust, justice, or transparency also play an important role in policy and behavior of conscious companies.  
Conscious Money, by contrast, is an approach to personal finance in which human values, inner wisdom, and higher consciousness guide individual financial choices, while people also observe sound monetary principles. The idea behind Conscious Money is simple: it’s about creating a positive, life-affirming relationship with money and a recognition that, when greater awareness (or consciousness) directs money choices, it can make a difference for one’s self, for others and for the planet at large. 
Figuratively speaking, your money becomes “conscious” when you infuse your cash, savings, expenditures, income investments, and philanthropic contributions with values, awareness, and positive intentions. 
Conscious Money and Conscious Capitalism are together building an unparalleled platform for meaningful economic co-creation. Because at the heart of every financial transaction lies the power of collaborative conscious choice. Conscious shoppers wield an enormous force for good in the economy. Conscious Capitalists, in turn, are more likely to invest in green innovation knowing that a growing market for green products exists. Each time individuals and businesses interact in a conscious exchange, the inner world of awareness and values tempers the marketplace of humanity, transforming our economic reality. With each positive life-affirming transaction, we jointly create a new and conscious economy that will sustain the future of human evolution and transformation.
 
Patricia Aburdene is one of the world’s leading social forecasters and an internationally-renown speaker. She co-authored the number one New York Times bestseller Megatrends 2000. Her book Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism launched a business revolution. Patricia’s new book, Conscious Money: Living, Creating, and Investing with Your Values for A Sustainable New Prosperity, published in 2012, is a finalist is the Green category for the “Books for a Better Life Award.” Read Chapter one of Conscious Money. Patricia was named one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Behavior” and serves as an Ambassador of the Conscious Capitalist Institute. Patricia’s journalism career began at Forbes magazine and she was a public policy follow at Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA. Her website is patriciaaburdene.com.
 

From Growth Capitalism to Sustainable Capitalism: The Next 20 years of Sustainable Investing

Monday, December 3, 2012 by

By Joe Keefe, President and CEO, Pax World Management  (From the special 20th Anniversary issue of the GreenMoney Journal and www.GreenMoney.com )

Twenty years from now, we will have either successfully transitioned from our current economic growth paradigm to a new model of Sustainable Capitalism or we will be suffering the calamitous consequences of our failure to do so. Likewise, sustainable investing will either remain a niche strategy or it will have supplanted mainstream investing. This is the critical point we must embrace: sustainable investing can no longer simply present itself as an alternative to traditional investment approaches that ignore environmental, social and governance (ESG) imperatives; it cannot simply be for some people; it must actually triumph over and displace traditional investing.  

The current model of global capitalism - call it growth capitalism - is premised upon perpetual economic growth that must ultimately invade all accessible habitat and consume all available resources.[Footnote 1] Growth capitalism must eventually collapse, and is in fact collapsing, for the simple reason that a finite planet cannot sustain infinite growth. Moreover, the dislocations associated with this infinite growth paradigm and its incipient demise - climate change, rising inequality and extreme poverty, resource scarcity (including food and water shortages), habitat loss and species extinctions, ever more frequent financial crises, to name just a few - will increasingly bedevil global policy makers in the years ahead. The public sector is already experiencing a high degree of dysfunction associated with its inability to confront a defining feature of this system: the need for perpetual growth in consumption spurs a corresponding growth in public and private debt to fuel that consumption, which has roiled financial markets and sovereign finances across the globe. 

Meanwhile, the environmental fallout from this infinite growth paradigm is becoming acute. All of earth’s natural systems – air, water, minerals, oil, forests and rainforests, soil, wetlands, fisheries, coral reefs, the oceans themselves – are in serious decline. Climate change is just one symptom. “The problem is the delusion that we can have infinite quantitative economic growth, that we can keep having more and more stuff, on a finite planet.”[FN 2] The problem is an economic system that makes no distinction between capital investments that destroy the environment, or worsen public health, or exacerbate economic inequality, and those that are aligned with earth’s natural systems while promoting the general welfare. Under growth capitalism, a dollar of output is a dollar of output, regardless of its side effects; short-term profit is valued regardless of the long-term consequences or externalities. 

It is therefore discouraging that, in the U.S. at least, there is no serious discussion in mainstream policy circles about alternatives to the present system. Nor do I think there will be for some time given our current political/cultural drift. Political and economic elites, and the public itself, remain committed to growth capitalism, accustomed to “having more and more stuff,” for a host of economic, social and psychological reasons. As Jeremy Grantham has written, “[t]he problems of compounding growth in the face of finite resources are not easily understood by optimistic, short-term-oriented, and relatively innumerate humans (especially the political variety).”[FN 3] Our campaign finance system, wherein policy makers are essentially bought off by and incentivized to advance the very interests that stand to profit most from the current system, is no help. Making matters worse, large segments of the public do not even accept what science teaches us about climate change, or natural systems, or evolution, or a host of other pressing realities. The late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts. Today, it seems that a growing number of people, aided and abetted by special interests that stand to benefit from public ignorance, are increasingly opting for their own “facts.”

So, neither the public sector nor corporate and economic elites, as a result of some newfound enlightenment, seem poised to consider alternatives to the current system. To the contrary, their first impulse will be to resist any such efforts. This is the critical problem at the moment: while there is an array of powerful forces aligned against the type of sweeping, systemic change that is needed, there is no organized constituency for it. There are individuals and groups who support this or that reform, or who are focused on critical pieces of the larger puzzle (e.g., climate change, sustainable food & agriculture, gender equality, sustainable investing), but there is no movement, no political party or leader, no policy agenda to connect the dots.

That is a shame because there is a clear alternative to growth capitalism that has been articulated in recent years by a diverse body of economists, ecologists, scientists and other leading thinkers - including leaders in the sustainable investment community.[FN 4]

Although there is as of yet no unified theory or common language, let alone any sort of organized movement to speak of, what has emerged is essentially a unified vision, and that vision might best be described as Sustainable Capitalism.[FN 5]

Sustainable Capitalism may be thought of as a market system where the quality of output replaces the quantity of output as the measure of economic well-being. Sustainable Capitalism “explicitly integrates environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into strategy, the measurement of outputs and the assessment of both risks and opportunities…. encourages us to generate financial returns in a long-term and responsible manner, and calls for internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.”[FN 6] Essentially, business corporations and markets alter their focus from maximizing short-term profit to maximizing long-term value, and long-term value expressly includes the societal benefits associated with or derived from economic activity. The connections between economic output and ecological/societal health are no longer obscured but are expressly linked.[FN 7]

There is no question that growth capitalism must give way to Sustainable Capitalism. It’s as simple, and as urgent, as that. Over the next 20 years, the sustainable investing industry must play a pivotal leadership role in ushering in this historic transformation. We will need to connect the dots and catalyze the movement. Why us? For the simple reason that finance is where the battle must be joined. It is the financial system that determines how and where capital is invested, what is valued and not valued, priced and not priced. The sustainable investment community’s role is vital because the fundamental struggle is between a long-term perspective that fully integrates ESG factors into economic and investment decisions and our current paradigm which is increasingly organized around short-term trading gains as the primary driver of capital investment and economic growth regardless of consequences/externalities.

The notion that sustainable investing can simply keep to its current trajectory - a few more assets under management here, a few more successful shareholder resolutions there, a few more GRI reports issued, another UN conference, an occasional victory at the SEC - and achieve what needs to be achieved on the scale required is, frankly, untenable. We need to be more ambitious in our agenda.

We will also need to take a more critical stance, not only advocating for ESG integration but against economic and investment approaches that ignore ESG concerns. We will need to consistently critique the notion that externalities associated with economic output are somehow collateral, or that financial return is sufficient without beneficial societal returns, or that markets are inherently efficient and self-correcting. We will need to unabashedly offer sustainable investing not as an alternative approach but as a better approach - as the only sensible, responsible way to invest.

I believe the sustainable investing industry will also need to align itself with a more explicit public policy agenda - while remaining non-partisan - and work with like-minded reformers to advocate for that agenda. For example, sustainable investors should be sounding the alarm about resource scarcity and advocating for a massive public/private investment plan in clean energy, efficiency technologies and modernized infrastructure.[FN 8] The age of resource scarcity and the need for efficiency solutions is upon us.[FN 9] At Pax World, we offer a fund - the Global Environmental Markets Fund (formerly the Global Green Fund) - whose investment focus is precisely that. Our industry needs to fashion such investment solutions, and I believe there will be opportunities to do so collaboratively as well as competitively.

I also feel strongly that the greatest impediment to sustainable development across the globe is gender inequality. Advancing and empowering women and girls is not only a moral imperative but can unleash enormous potential that is now locked up in our patriarchal global economy. Sustainable investors need to press the case that gender equality needs to be a pillar of Sustainable Capitalism. At Pax World, we also have a fund - the Global Women’s Equality Fund - whose investment focus is exactly that.

In my view, the sustainable investing community should also be advocating for public funding of federal elections, either through a constitutional amendment or, absent an amendment, through a voluntary public funding system. The notion that we can tackle any major public policy issue, let alone undertake the epochal transition to Sustainable Capitalism, while politicians and regulators are captive to the very interests they are supposed to regulate, is beyond naïve. We will not be able to reform capitalism if we cannot reform Congress. 

Finally, asset management firms like my own will need to find ways to craft new, more persuasive messages, launch new products, form new partnerships, and fashion new distribution strategies and alliances that are focused on lifting the industry as a whole, because a rising tide will lift all boats. Pax World has taken a step in this direction in launching our ESG Managers Portfolios, where many ESG managers and strategies are now available under one roof in one set of asset allocation funds. There is more to be done - together, as an industry. 

The times call for leadership. The transition to Sustainable Capitalism is necessary and urgent, as is the triumph of sustainable investing over investment approaches that effectively prolong and exacerbate the current crisis. Twenty years from now, our industry will be judged by whether we have met this burden of leadership. Our impact either will be dramatic or inconsequential. We either will succeed or we will fail. We should resolve to succeed, and to work collaboratively toward that end. 

 

Article by Joe Keefe, President & CEO of Pax World Management, headquartered in Portsmouth, NH. Pax World manages approximately $2.5 billion in assets, including mutual funds, asset allocation funds and ETFs, all of which follow a sustainable investing approach. Prior to joining Pax World, Joe was President of NewCircle Communications (2000-2005), served as Senior Adviser for Strategic Social Policy at Calvert Group (2003 – 2005), and was Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Citizens Advisers (1997-2000). A former member of the board of US SIF (2000 - 2005), Joe was named by Ethisphere Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics” for 2007, 2008 and 2011, and in 2012 was recognized by Women’s eNews a one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century, where he was the sole male honoree. 

You should consider a fund's investment objectives, risks and charges and expenses carefully before investing. For this and other important information, please obtain a fund prospectus by calling 800.767.1729 or visiting www.paxworld.com . Please read it carefully before investing.

Equity investments are subject to market fluctuations, a fund’s share price can fall because of weakness in the broad market, a particular industry, or specific holdings. Emerging market and international investments involve risk of capital loss from unfavorable fluctuations in currency values, differences in generally accepted accounting principles, economic or political instability in other nations or increased volatility and lower trading volume.

Distributed by ALPS Distributors, Inc., Member: FINRA            PAX002590 08/13

Footnotes:

[1] See, William E. Rees, “Toward a Sustainable World Economy,” Paper delivered at Institute for New Economic Thinking Annual Conference, Bretton Woods, NH, April 2011, p. 4.

[2] Paul Gilding, The Great Disruption, Bloomsbury Press, 2011, p. 186.

[3] Jeremy Grantham, “Time to Wake Up: Days of Abundant Resources and Falling Prices Are Over Forever,” April 2011 GMO Quarterly Letter.

[4] I am thinking of such writers and thinkers as Wendell Berry, Lester Brown, Paul Gilding, Herman Daly, Thomas Friedman, Paul Hawken, Richard Heinberg, Mark Hertsgaard, Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, Bill McKibben, Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers & Dennis Meadows, James Gustave Speth and, of course, E.F. Schumacher. Contributions from the sustainable investing community include Steven Lydenberg’s Corporations and The Public Interest, Robert Monks’s The New Global Investors, Marjorie Kelly’s The Divine Right of Capital, and The New Capitalists by Stephen Davis, Jon Lukomnik & David Pitt-Watson. See also the work of The Capital Institute, www.capitalinstitute.org

[5] Credit Al Gore, David Blood, Peter Wright and the folks at Generation Investment Management for putting a stake in the ground and endeavoring to define and popularize this concept.

[6] “Sustainable Capitalism,” Generation Investment Management LLP, 2012, p. 2.

[7] This notion of Sustainable Capitalism is not unlike the concept of “shared value” s advanced by Michael E. Porter and Mark E. Kramer. See, “Creating Shared Value,” Harvard Business Review, Jan-Feb 2011.

[8] See Daniel Alpert, Robert Hockett & Nouriel Roubini, “The Way Forward: Moving From the Post-Bubble, Post-Bust Economy to Renewed Growth and Competitiveness,” © 2011, New America Foundation, www.newamerica.net

[9] See Jeremy Grantham, “Time to Wake Up: Days of Abundant Resources and Falling Prices Are Over Forever,” supra; See also, “Resource Scarcity and The Efficiency Revolution,” Impax Asset Management, www.impaxam.com

 

For more information go to- www.GreenMoney.com

 

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