Green Business Products

BRIC Was It, Now EMIC Is the Thing

Saturday, July 12, 2014 by

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"Daring for Big Impact" was held at the Greifenstein Castle in Switzerland.

So you've probably heard of the BRIC countries as discussion of the economic growth potential of Brazil, Russia, India and China has been all the rage, especially during the recession. While still critical to world economic growth, those countries are no longer the cutting edge of investment and sustainable opportunity.

Who knows what the EMICS are? How about Ethiopia, Myanmar, Iran and Colombia? I recently was invited to attend a very special conference held at this picturesque Swiss castle nestled among idyllic gardens near the Swiss-Austrian border. "Daring for Big Impact" was a most compelling and unusual confab, featuring a carefully curated group of international experts from industry, finance, government and philanthropy. Organized by Swiss-based global impact investment and strategy firm Impact Economy, the conference looked at several significant but seemingly unrelated topics, all of which are on the cutting edge of business innovation and investing for the 21st century.

"Our challenge going forward is twofold," explained the conference's host, Christian Kruger, who serves as Chairman of Krüger & Co., and owns and maintains Greifenstein Castle in his spare time.

First, to accelerate the pace of progress so we move from pilot to mainstream, and begin achieving demonstrable results on a massive scale. Second, we need to return to holistic thinking and consider what the good life means in the 21st century, and reflect upon what each of us can do individually to ground ourselves and contribute -- so the good life is not just for the privileged few.

 

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The conference, nestled among idyllic gardens near the Swiss-Austrian border, brought together international experts to attend sessions like "The Pursuit of 21st Century Happiness."

While covering topics ranging from how to meet the crushing demand for clothing and apparel throughout the developing world in a safe and sustainable way, to climate change and its ramifications, to the relatively new science of impact investing, the conference attempted to meld these seemingly diverse topics into a central theme: if we can work together productively and strategically, we can overcome the seemingly insurmountable challenges threatening our future. Overpopulation, water scarcity, fracking, electronic waste, rising temperatures and oceans, unstable and totalitarian governments... none of these externalities seemed to deter the enthusiasm for utilizing strategic investment not only for profit but to help deal with these threats to our very existence.

This seeming juxtaposition is perhaps best illustrated by Bangladesh: the apparel industry is growing by leaps and bounds there, accounting for 20 percent of its GDP. But this emerging country is also responsible for one of the worst industrial disasters in modern history, the April 2013 collapse of a large garment factory building in Dhaka, which killed over 1,100 workers. And herein lies the problem, and the opportunity which the fourth annual iteration of "Daring for Big Impact" addressed.

"Beyond catalytic countries that can drive wider progress, there are also countries whose success in modernizing could have wider geostrategic implications," said Dr. Maximilian Martin, co-host of the conference as well as founder and CEO of Impact Economy. I had met Dr. Martin at a previous professional gathering and was taken with his keen insight and ability to analyze and translate the world's sustainability problems into business innovations.

Dr. Martin explained why he believes the EMICs to be where the action will be going forward.

Ethiopia has been the fastest growing economy in Africa with a GDP growth rate of 10.7 percent in the past decade, which made it the 12th fastest growing economy worldwide. Myanmar has undergone important industrial reforms to allow more foreign investment to flow into the country. Iran is the largest economy in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia in terms of GDP (although sanctions make it off limit for investments at the moment). And Colombia's vision to become one of the top three most competitive countries in Latin America by 2030 is supported by an expected GDP growth of 4.5 percent in 2014.

Indeed, the seventh World Urban Forum was recently held in Medellin, best known of course as world headquarters of the infamous drug cartels. However, as proof of Dr. Martin's assessment, the murder rate there has dropped by 80 percent since its peak, and was rated the number one innovative city in the world by none other than the Wall Street Journal.

A critical message imparted by Dr. Martin throughout the conference is the need to integrate sustainable practices into key industries to enable their long-term competitiveness, especially fashion, retail and electronics -- none of which, according to him, are on a sustainable track currently. This is an example of an area that business and investment leaders must work with NGOs and philanthropists to correct. The ramifications of the waste generated by these industries without proper forethought to using recyclable materials and getting those materials back into the recycling/remanufacturing supply chain will be disastrous otherwise. But if reused, they become a business opportunity.

This critical issue was looked into more closely by Carlos Criado-Perez, former CEO of British retailer Safeway and before that operations director for Walmart International. Perez's presentation made much of data points coming from Impact Economy and Ellen MacArthur Foundation research, for example that over $700 billion -- yes with a "b" -- could be saved if just half of what is sold annually by the apparel industry could be recycled for future use after its useful life, instead of ending up in landfill. Not to mention, the production of clothing is extremely water-intensive and Impact Economy estimates that up to 50 percent of the zillions of gallons required could be saved by use of sustainable manufacturing practices.

An interesting twist that separated "Daring for Big Impact" from the dozens of other "future-look" conferences was the inclusion of sessions like "The Pursuit of 21st Century Happiness" which featured Swami Nitya, spiritual guide from the UK, and Han Shan, a "guru" from Thailand, which related opportunities in global change to the personal level.

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A violinist set the evening atmosphere at the conference dinner.

One other aspect of the conference that is close to my heart was remarks by David Gelber, formerly producer for Harry Bradley of 60 Minutes fame but more recently, creator of the important documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, which is airing on Showtime (perhaps they think it offsets the soft-core porn one usually finds there?). This production is one of the best ever made at illustrating the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change. We screened an episode and a very lively discussion followed, although not surprisingly, there is not much disagreement among this group about how critical it is to proactively respond immediately if civilization as we know it is to continue.

Suffice it to say that this conference stood out from the crowd. The firm Impact Economy and Dr. Martin in particular are to be commended for having the vision to show how different topics add up to a comprehensive picture and three days of intensive and provocative thought about where we go from here and how to do it in a way that will benefit all, not just investors.

Read more from Jennifer Schwab on her Inner Green.

ASK BIG, SCARY, WORLD-CHANGING QUESTIONS

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 by

This article is written by Thomas Kolster, founder of our new collaborative partner firm, Goodvertising Agency.


Creativity is needed more than ever to bring sustainability to our world. For brands, creating sustainable success begins with a simple premise—ask huge questions.

One word your brand must own: Sustainability


In 1992 at the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, a 12 year-old girl by the name of Severn Cullis-Suzuki delivered a speech that silenced the room with its apparent frankness, “I’m only a child, yet I know that we’re all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.” Her delivery was devoid of politics and, even without uttering it aloud, asked a simple but scary question: What are you doing to help? There’s much to learn from this girl’s implicit question, especially if you are in the process of transforming your run-of-the-mill brand into a sustainable brand, your run-of-the-mill business to a sustainable business. There’s much to learn from looking at the world from a child’s curious and straightforward perspective. Ask a question—a big one—as children do without fear. Something juicy like: What difference does your company make for people or the planet? What is your relevance in a sustainable world?


NEW WORLD—NEW VALUES
For the last two years, my team and I have compiled hundreds of sustainable communication case studies from all over the world for my book, Goodvertising. One of the things we learned was how few brands have truly embraced sustainability as an entrenched organizational value. Here we are, in the midst of among the biggest business transformations in history, and most businesses are plodding along unawares. Just because consumers today aspire to drive Ferraris, does not mean our children won’t dream of owning a Tesla. Consumers are expecting more responsibility and more sustainability from brands every day. Brands need creativity more than ever to prepare themselves for the new sustainable market?


WHY ARE WE MAKING CARPETS THAT HARM THE PLANET?
A question kickstarted the journey of one of the most recognized sustainable brands: Interface. Its founder, Ray Anderson, wasn’t a born tree-hugger, but in his company a group of employees wanted to make a working group on Corporate Social Responsibility. He knew very little about CSR and decided to read a few books to prepare an inspiring talk for his team. This led him to a simple, game-changing question, “Why are we making carpets that harm the planet?” This vision has since propelled his business forward and into the top tier in its industry.


WHAT DOES YOUR BRAND OWN?
If you want your brand to make a difference, you have to approach change with creativity. Begin by questioning your business, your brand, your product offerings, your target audience and your stakeholders. The entire sustainability agenda is complicated, but ideally your brand promise or communication shouldn’t be. Your brand must have a simple reason for being that’s bigger than itself. Bodyshop owns animal rights and Method owns green cleaning. The brand that owns sustainability in its category will be tomorrow’s winner. Consider the battles which have already begun for the green throne between the powerhouse brands of the world. No longer are we seeing them saying, “Whatever you can do, I can do better.” It’s morphed into, “Whatever you can do, I can do greener.” If you want to stay relevant, you must own sustainability like Heinz owns ketchup.


DEAR BRAND, MEET YOUR BETTER HALF
Some brands have successfully integrated sustainability into the core of their brand like IBM’s Smarter Planet, which cleverly integrated IBM’s well-known ingenuity with sustainability. It should be a natural meeting between your brand and the world-bettering vision of your brand. The same applies to your campaign activities. The beer brand Corona—associated with sun, beach and fun—launched a beach cleaning effort in Spain where the collected garbage was turned into a hotel. Celebrities were then invited to spend the night. This is a simple campaign, which fits the brand and activates an easy-going beach crowd in a fun way.


WHAT’S YOUR BIG, SCARY, WORLD-CHANGING QUESTION?
Some companies are beginning to raise the bar by asking even bigger questions than that courageous and creative 12 year-old in Rio. Some of the world’s most prominent business leaders are questioning the role of publishing quarterly results, arguing that they shift focus towards short-term profits, drowning out long-term results and superseding the need to think more sustainably. We must realize that a sustainable future is a long game. We must be patient. It is a fundamental structural change. A habit of questioning the status quo and the assumptions you hold is essential to creativity and innovation and, therefore, to your business staying relevant. What is the point in asking yourself questions to which you already know the answer?
Ask big, scary, world-changing questions instead. They are timely and necessary—and fast becoming profitable, too.

The article was first published on Fast Company.

How Inefficiency Hurts Your Business for Sustainability

Saturday, February 22, 2014 by

In today's technologically driven world, there are many ways a business can become more efficient. This efficiency translates to greater net income as well as promoting a stronger future for humanity. Let's face it, without focusing on the continuation of humankind, there will be no customers in the future. With all of the innovative developments at our disposal, there are still many people that prefer to perform archaic principles in business that are not conducive to growth. In what ways can this inefficiency hurt your business for sustainability?

1. Wasting Time - One of the most valued commodities of any business is time. By not investing in ways to increase efficiency in the workplace, your business is losing money through wasting the one thing that cannot be recuperated. Instead of the pencil and pen ledger, software exists to allow you to reduce the time spent on record keeping exponentially. This means less paper is used, less time is wasted and more money remains in your bank accounts instead of paying staff to do the work that only requires a few clicks of the mouse.

2. Wasting Electricity - By not examining the electronics that are turned on all the time that don't need to be, you are wasting electricity. Not all computers and monitors need to be left on day-in and day-out. The only real appliance that should be left on is the server. That staff member you may have that is only at his or her desk once per week doesn't need the computer left on. This waste of electricity is damaging to your energy bill as well as hurting the rest of the community by taking energy that could be used elsewhere.

3. Wasting Paper - Did you know that nearly every aspect of any given business can be done digitally? Even receipts for purchases can be emailed instead of printed. Since tablets and smartphones can open most office documents, there is no real reason to have hard copies. Digital documents can be stored and backed up far easier than the printed counterparts - and will take up less physical space. The only real forms that may be needed are those that require personal initials or signatures such as real estate documents or contracts. Memos, correspondences and many other forms of printed material are no longer needed if you have the right alternatives. The financial savings alone from ink and paper should be more than enough incentive to look into efficient alternatives. 

4. Wasting Water - Faucets and toilets within the facility may be wasting water, but what about outside the business? Everyone likes to see greenery surrounding the headquarters or business establishment. However, is the water being put into keeping it green used wisely? There are still organizations out there that have sprinkler systems that operate when it's raining outside. There are products available now that can reduce the amount of time you spend watering the grass and flowers by up to 50-percent. This means you are wasting less water on the ambiance of your business while keeping more money in your bank.

As a business owner, you should be setting an example of professionalism. In a world where so many resources are dwindling rapidly, you need to realize that the business establishment greatly contributes to the loss of these resources. Look around your location and develop a strategy to become more sustainable for the environment and your profitability.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

Social Media as Social Currency: Selling Through Social Influencing

Saturday, February 8, 2014 by

A 5 Step Guide to Inside – Out Influencer Social Media Marketing

Social influencing is the ability to influence behavior through your social & digital networks. A strong ability to influence your social network equals high social currency net worth, which doesn’t just translate into a high number of followers and engagements, rather it is of direct financial impact on your company’s bottom line and potential for long term success.  

Purchasing power is in the hands of people, and business is no longer B2B or B2C, rather business is S2S – soul to soul. Success in business is dependent on personal relationships. 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family*.

As the communication gab between brands and consumers have largely disappeared, and consumers can get access to any information about your company, and reviews on how other’s, whom they trust, experience shopping with you, your customers go social to find out about you, before they buy. And, they do not go to your website. They go to the key influencers talking about your business.

Social technologies offer effective & efficient ways to increase & engage your network both locally and globally, and it is of great value to most businesses to find the key to building social currency.  So, how do you crack this code to become a trustworthy social influencer?

Passion

Get beneath what you do & sell, and into the core of why you do what you do. Draw your audience towards you with your contagious passion for why you do what you do. If you are only focused on what you sell, the communication and connection with your audience will be too superficial to build social influencer standing.

If you grow and sell tea, then share all about why you are passionate about tea – perhaps it’s the fine flavor variations in tea from specific regions of the world; perhaps it’s the health benefits of herbal & green teas, or perhaps it’s the beauty of tea ceremony and the tradition of tea & slow living.  

Purpose

People are hungry for meaning & connection with other people, and purpose is a strong motivator in attracting a community of like-minded people, who share your values and can help bring your purpose-driven cause and business to life. Give your audience a way to connect and be part of your purpose. If you talk about a product on your company Facebook page, drive the context back to your purpose. Why is it that sharing this product with your followers is important. If the answer is ‘to sell more product’ you are not digging deep enough. Underneath the desire to sell more lies your true purpose.

Give

When you give from an authentic place - considering what the person in front of you needs or feels inspired about; because without a manipulating & self-serving hidden motive, we connect with people on a deeper level. If you keep this behavior consistent over time, you develop trust and loyalty with your audience & community. And, that’s what you need – people, who are loyal to you, who come back again and again, and, who also act as your ambassadors telling their friends about you. They will start doing this on their own, when you clear your attachment to a particular outcome and give to them from a clean place.

Trust

Trust is build over time, and is based on your consistent trustworthy behavior through all the touch-points between you and the people, who encounters your business – both internally & externally. This includes your website, all your social media profiles, any marketing materials, products, packaging, displays, written words, visual communication, how employees are treated – and most importantly, the behavior of everyone on your team, and how you and your team act in your local community and in the world at large. People buy from people they trust.

Evaluate your business on the below Trust Equation, so you can determine the current standing of your company’s trust building ability. From here you can create actionable efforts to increase the areas of weakness.

Credibility:  Your expertise as shared with your audiences. How knowledgeable are you in your field? Does your audiences see you as a credible expert? Do they listen to you?

Reliability:  Are you being consistent in frequency, tone of voice and visual feel in all touch-points? Do you follow through on delivering what you promise – every time?

Intimacy:  Your ability to make someone feel comfortable in opening up and being themselves with you.

Self-Orientation:  Where is your focus? The more you focus on the other, the more trustworthy you come across. If you are too self-oriented, you come across as low in trustworthiness.*

Plan

Random acts of social media do not work. If your goal is to increase your social influencer status, then you need to create a plan. But, before you plan, work through each of the above stages, and do your work. Observe yourself, your brand, your employees and all your communication touch-points thoroughly. Be honest with yourself. Identify your weaknesses, and create an action plan to improve these areas. Continue to observe, and fine tune behaviors again and over time. I recommend that you see this process of becoming better as a playful process of imperfection. There is no final perfection, but rather, this is a lifelong process of finetunement.

 

* Sources:

Nielsen: Global research study April 10, 2012

Jeff Bullas: The 10 Big Social Media Marketing Trends in 2014. Jan, 2014

Social Media Today: Is Self-Orientation Killing Your Trustworthiness by Charles Green

Top photo credit: marketingtango.com

 

 

Sandja Brügmann is founding partner & chief creative strategist at Refresh Agency, a specialized communications agency driving leadership transformation, international business, public relations and social media focused on the sustainable and social business lifestyle markets in the USA and Europe.

Refresh Agency service businesses on the leading edge of the sustainability and social-good areas globally including ITO EN, Matcha LOVE, Nisolo Shoes, Clementine Art, Sustainia, GoodBelly, Addis Creson (Better Place, Kashi), Chocolove, Neve Designs, Spier and TEDxCopenhagen spanning from Boulder, CO, New York, NY, Tokyo, Japan, Copenhagen, Denmark to Cape Town, South Africa.

Sandja was born and raised in sustainability-minded Denmark. A grounded island girl, who grew up on the beautiful island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. She is a certified yoga instructor, a Danish National Team Archery champion and former Olympic hopeful, a Dean’s Scholar at University of Colorado in Boulder, and she adores her daily lessons as a parent.

 

 

 

 

Unique Investment Options: Parnassus Workplace and Asia Funds

Saturday, December 7, 2013 by

A good place to work makes for a good investment – that’s the basic premise of the Parnassus Workplace Fund. In other words, a company that treats its employees well should be successful as a business. Since its inception over eight years ago (on April 29, 2005), the Parnassus Workplace Fund has demonstrated the truth of this premise.

The idea for the Parnassus Workplace Fund was first presented to me by Milton Moskowitz, co-author of the annual Fortune magazine survey of The 100 Best Companies to Work For in America. Russell Associates, the analytics group and creator of the Russell 2000 Index and other benchmarks, had contacted Moskowitz and told him that they had done a study of the publicly-traded companies in the annual Fortune list, and found that the stock-market performance of those companies had been excellent, handily beating the S&P 500 over long periods of time.

Moskowitz called me with the news and urged me to start a mutual fund that invested in companies with good workplaces. I was hesitant at first, because studies are not the same as investing with real money, and the results can be very different. However, the idea struck a chord in me because I’d always felt that a company with a happy workforce made for a good investment, but until then I had no way of proving it. Despite my initial hesitation, I decided to go ahead and start the Parnassus Workplace Fund with Milton Moskowitz as a consultant to the Fund. The Fund has been successful, and as of June 30, 2013, it has over $350 million in assets.

We use two sets of criteria in making investment decisions: financial and workplace. Assessing the financial criteria involves doing fundamental analysis to find companies with high returns, good products and services, sustainable competitive advantages and solid balance sheets. Once we have done the financial analysis, we make an estimate of the value of the company. Usually, we will only buy a stock if it is selling for no more than two-thirds of its intrinsic value. This gives us an important margin of safety.

While the financial analysis is quantitative, the workplace assessment is qualitative. We think it is important to visit companies and talk with management to find out if a company has a good workplace. While almost all companies will say they have a good workplace, the ones that impress us the most are ones that can give specific examples and articulate policies that make them good places to work. Important characteristics include: some meaningful form of profit-sharing or stock-ownership; good health-care and retirement benefits; support for working mothers; an emphasis on training and personal development; job flexibility; and recognition for accomplishments. We like companies that respect their employees, genuinely care about them and don’t just treat them as hired hands.

I think that picking companies with good workplaces is one of the keys to the Fund’s success. Some of the extra return we get is because of our financial analysis and using a value approach to investing, but a lot of our edge comes from choosing companies that are great places to work. If people are happy at work, they will be more productive, and this means better results from the same number of people. It also means that that there will be lower turnover, and this results in less money spent on recruiting and training new people. More importantly, workers at this kind of firm will help to save money for their employer and also find ways to develop more business for the company. It’s impressive what can happen when happy workers are allowed to be creative and come up with ways to build a better business.

The Fund is careful about taking risks, making sure that there is the potential for more upside gain than downside risk. The market has really taken off so far in 2013, so we have to be careful to avoid stocks that may be over-valued. Right now, the economy is improving, so there should be more upside, but there’s no doubt that some valuations have gotten ahead of themselves, so it’s important to look at both potential risk and potential return.

Parnassus Asia Fund

On April 30, 2013, Parnassus started its first new fund in eight years: the Parnassus Asia Fund. This is our first venture into international investing. Asia is a very dynamic and creative place. It contains the world’s fastest-growing middle class, and it is the scene of much technological innovation. Asia is also a region with a lot of entrepreneurship, and it is developing deep financial markets. Given that the region is growing at a fast pace, and we expect that growth to continue, it makes sense to invest in Asia ahead of future positive developments and despite all of the complications in doing so.

Continue reading this article on Green Money Journal.

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.

 

Six Reasons Why I Love the Green Festival

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 by

Green FestivalWhen the organizers of the Washington, DC Green Festival approached me this past spring about becoming their regional director,  I wondered if an event like this still resonated with consumers. Even though the event is widely recognized as the nation’s premier sustainability event, I asked myself if there was enough demand for an actual event in today’s age of virtual this, "there’s an app for that” and hash tags becoming part of our ever day lexicon.  Especially in a sector where green events have come and gone. Well, I found out that the resounding answer is YES! If my experience in September is any indication, while technology may have taken on a prominent place in our daily lives, there is absolutely a place in consumers’ lives for good, old fashioned face-to-face events.  We crave community and in-person interaction now more than ever. Technology hasn’t lessened the demand for this type of interaction. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  It has increased.  People want to talk with others, gather information and look someone in the eye while doing it.  They want to touch and try out products, taste samples and see for themselves what resources are available to them.  Most importantly they want to be part of a like-minded community and participate in that community.

As my colleagues working on the San Francisco Green Festival gear up for the last event of the year November 9 & 10 at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center, it seems like a good time to  reflect on some of my favorite elements of the Green Festival.

1.       At its core the Green Festival message is about celebrating what is working in the community and providing consumers easy-to-use, actionable solutions they can take home with them and implement right away. Whether it be delicious vegetarian recipes from  Washington Post Food Editor Joe Yonan’s new book ‘Eat Your Vegetables’  to DIY ways to repurpose furniture courtesy of Habitat for Humanity, to tips on bike commuting, composting, gardening, energy efficiency and so much more, there truly is something for everyone.  Kids too.

2.       The opportunity to connect with and learn from inspirational businesses, organizations, nonprofits and other like-minded individuals who believe in making a difference, leaving our planet in better shape then we inherited and finding ways to live an eco-friendly life.  The Festival routinely features well-known, national change agents like Ralph Nader or Amy Goodman, as well as locally-based leaders like Bernadine Prince, co-founder and co-executive director of FRESHFARM Markets, yoga teacher Faith Hunter of Embrace DC, who lead free yoga classes all weekend long in the Yoga Pavilion  and Fashion Fights Poverty, which curated a green fashion show .

3.       The event talks the talk and walks the walk.  Organizers actively encourage attendees to bike or take alternative transportation to reach the Green Festival. Anyone who bikes to the Festival receives free admittance.  Over 90% of waste generated by the Festival is diverted from landfills. There is even have a dedicated team of volunteers who sort through the trash making sure nothing is missed.

4.       As consumers are increasingly interested in where their food comes from, who prepared it and how it was made, that evolution has been reflected in the programming at the Festival. Food as a topic was addressed from every angle imaginable from the control of food production by a handful of large companies, to vegan baking tips from ‘Cupcake Wars’ veteran Doron Petersan, to growing gardens and food in small spaces, to leading area farmers markets and nonprofits showcasing how they are making it easier for consumers to have access to fresh, healthy and local foods.  Exhibitors offered healthful options for mom’s and mom’s to be, fair trade chocolates, juicing and smoothies, raw foods, and organic products just to name a few.  There were panels on how food creates opportunities for conversation about the environment and more.  Food is such an integral part in allowing us to live full lives, and there is so much going on behind the scenes that the average consumer has no idea about, so it’s important to provide opportunities to entertain, educate and inspire change all under one roof.

5.       The creativity and diversity of the exhibitors and sponsors.  They ranged from larger companies like Ford Motor Company test driving their fuel efficient vehicles and Equal Exchange Fair Trade Chocolates sampling and selling their tasty chocolates to small mom and pops like Karmlades selling environmental friendly cleaning products that smell wonderful and clean naturally without chemicals. I fell in love with one-of-kind scarves from a local clothing designer that were designed in the DC area and made with bamboo, an eco-friendly and super soft material.  Other exhibitors whose creativity caught my eye included a woman who used old scarves, jackets and other materials to make home goods, including a pillow made out of a World War II Army uniform, as well as the exhibitor who made bags, wallets and iPad covers out of old football and basketballs. Talk about reusing and recycling!

6.       Organizers are committed to reaching out to the community and making the event accessible to everyone. Complimentary tickets to the event are handed out at events throughout the area, can often be found online and through special social media promotions.

I think the most powerful take away for me was that there continues to be a thriving community, whether they be consumers, speakers, businesses or nonprofit organizations, who are devoted and committed to creating change.  To steal an oft quoted phrase from Ghandi, the Green Festival gives me hope that we will be the change we want to see in the world.

Hope to see you at the San Francisco Green Festival!

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.  

 

The Outer Bank Brewing Station: How Wind Saves this Restaurant More than $1800 per year

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 by

Located in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, the Outer Bank Brewing Station benefits from a renewable energy source that sits 80 feet from the ground. A three-bladed BWC Excel motor generates enough power to offset the restaurant's needs saving the location between $150 and $250 per month. Of course locations such as this utilize far more power than the average home, but a unit like the BWC Excel could come close to reducing your energy bills to nothing.

Compared to Solar - Wind power is one of the fastest growing trends in the United States. Coincidentally, it is also one of the cheapest methods of renewable energy. Depending on the area you live in, a solar equivalent to how much power is produced by the Outer Bank Brewing Station's turbine could cost twenty to thirty thousand dollars more than the $50,000 construction this business implemented.

Sustainable Practices - The owners of the establishment, Aubrey Davis and Eric Reece, spent a great deal of time in the Peace Corp and did a lot of work in Thailand. Given their background, the two wanted the brewery to be as green as possible. Purchasing used copper to be used in the brewery and using recycled bricks, the building began to take shape. Sticking with their theme for a "green" production in 2002, Davis and Reece applied to develop the windmill as solar power alternatives were still far more expensive in comparison. Technologies for solar arrays didn't begin decreasing in cost significantly until 2012. However, wind turbines still remain to be somewhat cheaper for the power generated. The Board of Commissioners were less than impressed with the idea and locals commented on how the turbine would kill a great deal of birds during its operation.

Resistance of the Future - Davis and Reece fought an uphill battle in order to convince the Board of Commissioners to allow construction of the 80-foot tall wind turbine. Five exhaustive years later, and political changes for the board members, the owners of the Outer Bank Brewing Station were allowed the opportunity to erect the tower. At that moment, this restaurant became the first brewery to be powered by wind and has been featured in National Geographic magazine. To this date, not a single bird has been killed by the spinning blades of the windmill.

Green efforts like this one can help to make the world a more sustainable place, one small step at a time. It takes effort to overcome obstacles but it does pay off in the end. How many more sustainable practices could be put into place to reduce our impact on the environment and increase the sustainability of our homes and businesses?

Paul Taylor started www.babysittingjobs.com which offers an aggregated look at those sites to help families find sitters and to help sitters find families easier than ever. He loves writing, with the help of his wife. He has contributed quality articles for different blogs & websites.

 

The Growth of Online Yoga and Fitness

Friday, July 26, 2013 by

Online yogaUnless you have been living in a cave you already know that yoga has hit the masses. According to a 2012 study by Yoga Journal the U.S. 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, compared to 15.8 million from 2008 and is an increase of 29 percent. Fitness clubs, studios and yoga practitioners have increased spending on yoga classes and products, including equipment, clothing, vacations, and media to $10.3 billion a year. This is up from $5.7 billion in 2008.

Will it continue to grow? In my mind there is no doubt. I see 3 main elements contributing to yoga and fitness going online.

1.  Technology - More and more people are connected via mobile phones, tablets, and computers that provide faster and easier communications and accessibility at an accelerated rate.
2.  Proven Business Model - The progression of various new subscription commerce business models is growing rapidly and ranges from razor blade sample services to fitness memberships.
3.  Behavior Adaptation - The growth of self monitored fitness and fitting time around an individual’s personal schedule compared to the individual arranging their schedule to participate in a fitness class.

These three elements have created a growth and innovative ways to engage with individuals relating to fitness never seen before. There are several LOHAS fitness companies that have successfully used these key elements. I have been fortunate to meet a few online yoga companies and their founders and here are some that I think are doing it right:

My Yoga Online logoMyYogaOnline- www.myyogaonline.com
MyYogaOnline is $9.95 per month and claims to be the #1 yoga website in the world. Their site provides a selection of over 1000 yoga, Pilates and fitness videos filmed in studios around the country such as Laughing Lotus in New York City and 8 Limbs in Seattle.

MyYogaOnline started in 2005 and by Jason Jacobson and his wife Michelle Trantia. Prior to starting MyYogaOnline Jason was in fitness and was a boxing coach. He hung up the gloves for business and film school. His wife was a yoga instructor. And they came up with the idea that combined their passions for film, business and fitness.  When it started streaming media was barely available. "The technology wasn’t there.” says Jacobson, “When we started out I thought things would go a lot faster. I thought that in 5 years everyone would be streaming to TV's.”
Although their projected growth was slower than expected, they are still growing at a rapid pace. Today, they have over 20 employees and are expanding their Vancouver offices for more space to include their own yoga studio.

MyYogaOnline has a very engaged yoga community of 300,000 yogis that are quite vocal and wants to share experiences they have.  They interact with their community with online giveaways and newsletters and also have good relations with many yoga festivals such as Wanderlust.  MyYogaOnline establishes relationships with yoga festival management teams to film the events, and share the festival experience with their community online. They also edit highlight promotions for future festivals. Filming at festivals provides them a unique connection with the yoga community.  Their website is nicely organized and intuitive to navigate.

Yoga Vibes logoYogaVibeswww.yogavibes.com
Yogavibes is $20 per month and features videos filmed in real yoga studios and offer a variety of vinyasa-style classes from renowned teachers like Ana Forrest, Dana Flynn, Faith Hunter, and Sadie Nardini, plus a full primary Ashtanga session with Kino MacGregor. By partnering with Exhale yoga studio and the Wanderlust Festival, YogaVibes keeps their content fresh and timely. You can choose classes based on their style, length, difficulty, anatomical focus, or teacher.

Founder Brian Ratte created YogaVibes after experiencing his own life transformation through yoga in overcoming personal trauma and wanted to share this insight and experience with others.  Extensive work-related travel had him doing yoga classes in studios around the world. Although he was away from home and familiarity, Brian became very drawn to the deep sense of unity he experienced in the yoga-sphere. He saw how people really connected in yoga classes and opened up to new things.

Ratte is also an executive at IBM and began to see the growth of consciousness in society and in business.  He began researching all kinds of things ranging from quantum physics to conscious business practices. He wanted to bridge his two world of yoga and technology and felt compelled to do so. In 2005-06’ he started creating business on his personal time between raising family and work. He started filming yoga classes and launched YogaVibes with 20 classes.  

YogaVibes classes have all kinds of types of people in classes representing all types of viewers.  “People like to see people like them in classes and we have many feedback comments to support this.” says Ratte. It  has a model that focuses on meeting people where they are at by not having famous teachers and attractive settings for yoga . It seems to be working as the YogaVibes has doubled its growth rate every 6 months for the last 4 years.

GaiamTV logoGaiamTV.com www.GaiamTV.com
GaiamTV is $9.95 per month and an extension of Gaiam, one of the country¹s largest producers and distributors of yoga and fitness DVDs, has joined the online video market with the launch of its streaming service, GaiamTV.com. This strategic move has positioned Gaiam to become a leading hub of yoga and wellness on demand. One can access almost every DVD produced by Gaiam in the last 15 years from your computer or mobile device.

Gaiam TV offers over 1,000 yoga and fitness titles with the brand¹s mainstays like Rodney Yee, Colleen Saidman and Mari Winsor, along with newer names like Kathryn Budig, Shiva Rea and Seane Corn. In the fitness realm, Jillian Michaels is their marquee name.  Gaiam TV's original digital titles include top talent like Kia Miller, Tommy Rosen, Amy Ippoliti, Chrissy Carter and dozens more covering every yoga style and level.

But what makes Gaiam TV different from other online yoga services is the wealth of additional transformational content offered. Subscribers can learn valuable life lessons from top spiritual leaders like Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson and the Dalai Lama; venture to the edges of reality with exclusive programming with hosts like George Noory and David Wilcock; get a first-hand look at cultural narratives from around the world; or discover the latest in green technology. This positions Gaiam TV well, since other online yoga services don¹t venture beyond yoga content.

These are only a few online fitness options currently available and more will show up as well as new concepts as it evolves. If you are into yoga and general fitness I recommend you try one as this may be the new norm for many gym goers or travelers.


 

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:




 

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. 

Is Fair Trade Part of the LOHAS Movement?

Monday, June 10, 2013 by

fair tradeLOHAS shoppers powerfully and naturally embrace the values of health and sustainability. But those life-affirming values are the only ones that inspire them. They also care deeply about social justice, the defining ideal of the expanding Fair Trade movement.

Fair Trade (FT) challenges one of the most basic assumptions of free enterprise--that buyers will always seek the lowest, or “free trade” price. “No, thanks,” reply FT advocates. “We choose instead to pay a ‘fair’ price so that producers receive a living wage.”

FT shoppers refuse to support a system where farmers with no bargaining power cannot negotiate the prices they need to survive and to invest in their businesses or communities. Fair Trader might also consider that farmers faced with such an untenable system may turn to growing drug crops for needed revenue, thus destabilizing communities from the poppy fields in Asia to cities all across the Americas to the streets of Amsterdam.

“The roots of Fair Trade are in coffee, but the model can be applied to many more categories, and in recent years the list of certified products has expanded dramatically,” says Paul Rice, President and CEO of Fair Trade USA, one of the world’s two largest certifiers of FT products. “Fair Trade empowers consumers to make a difference. With every cup of coffee, every bar of chocolate and every banana, we can actually lift people out of poverty and help preserve the land.”

Carolyn Long of Chevy Chase, Maryland, starts her day with a ritual of mindful reflection, global responsibility, and the aromatic scent of FT-sourced Ethiopian light-roast coffee. “It means a lot to know my choice is making a difference in the lives of farmers,” says Carolyn, who also enjoys Chocolove organic FT chocolate bars.

Carolyn would buy more FT products if she knew where to find them. A recent survey revealed that 62 percent of consumers feel the same way. Today, Fair Trade USA’s “Fair Trade Finder” mobile applications for iPhone and Android deliver a national directory of FT-certified products. Fair Trade fans can tag their favorite products and share their locations with others.

Today millions of FT fans promote the self-sufficiency of 1.2 million farmers and workers in 70 countries throughout Asia, Latin America, Oceania, the Caribbean, and Africa. Fair Trade shoppers have translated the value of social justice into a $4.5 billion global movement. In 2012, Fair Trade USA estimated total US Fair Trade sales alone at $1.2 billion.  

The efforts of FT shoppers are transforming the marketplace. More than 60,000 U.S. locations sell some 10,000 FT products, such as tea, sugar, fruit, chocolate, and soccer balls. And new FT products regularly appear on the shelves. Today, South Africa exports FT wine and the Palestinian West Bank exports FT olive oil. You can find FT vodka and FT-mined gold.

Look for the FT label whenever you shop:

• Buy FT bananas, rice, and body care at Whole Foods.
• Find FT flowers at the local Giant supermarket.
• Pick up Ben & Jerry’s diverse array of FT ice-cream flavors anywhere.

• Dagoba chocolate, made with FT-certified cacao, is widely available.

• Get your Kirkland Signature FT coffee at Costco.
• Buy FT wine at Sam’s Club, Target, or Whole Foods.

• You’ll also find FT products at Wal-Mart, Wegman’s, Trader Joe’s, and Kroger.

 

The FT Java Trade  

The most ubiquitous FT product, however, is coffee. Fair Trade USA certifies more than 100 million pounds of FT coffee each year. More than half of FT coffee is also organic. At least 30 percent of the beans purchased by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters are FT-certified. Starbucks began buying FT coffee in 2000 and played a critical role in building the U.S. FT coffee market.  Dunkin’ Donuts was the first national brand to sell espresso drinks made exclusively of FT beans. Peet’s Coffee, Allegro, Sumptown Coffee, Sustainable Harvest, and Crop to Cup are respected for their high standards and direct relationships with coffee growers. “The choices we make at the supermarket and café impact millions of people around the world,” says Dean Cycon, founder of Dean’s Beans, which sells 500,000 pounds of FT organic coffee each year.

 

FT Handicrafts

“Social change consumers” spend $45 billion a year, says eBay’s Robert Chatwani, who helped build the website of Good World Solutions (GWS), which works with 30,000 artisans globally. GWS’s web-based Fair Wage Guide, consulted by 900 companies in 81 countries, calculates the wages craftspeople need to support themselves and their communities. “Our technology gives workers a voice,” says GWS director Heather Franzese.

Ten Thousand Villages supports tens of thousands of artisans; its 256 stores sell “eclectic village wares” from more than 30 countries. Every FT purchase is a values statement. Fair Trade handicrafts remind us that each object is filled with the craftsperson’s soul and character.

###

As Buckminster Fuller, the great American engineer, inventor, and futurist, said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality . . . [instead] build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” That’s exactly what the Fair Trade movement—from farmers and certifiers to consumers—is well along the way toward achieving.

 

Patricia Aburdene is one of the world’s leading social forecasters and an internationally-renown speaker. She co-authored the New York Times number one bestseller Megatrends 2000. Her book Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism (Link for Megatrends 2010: http://www.amazon.com/Megatrends-2010-Rise-Conscious-Capitalism/dp/1571745394/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353425143&sr=1-2 ), launched a business revolution. Patricia’s new book, Conscious Money: Living, Creating, and Investing with Your Values for A Sustainable New Prosperity, was a finalist in the Green category for the “Books for a Better Life Award.” Read Chapter one of Conscious Money at http://www.beyondword.com/consciousmoney/index.html 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 www.patriciaaburdene.com<http://www.patriciaaburdene.com>.

4 signs that your target market should include Conscious Consumers

Thursday, April 25, 2013 by

Conscious Consumer

Image from BBMG

Conscious Consumers are an active and growing purchasing segment in the U.S. and worldwide. All you have to do is look at why LOHAS exists to see the potential economic impact of this group (and that doesn't even take into account the social impact). The term “conscious” is three-fold, applying to consumers who consider more than price and convenience when making a purchase decision – they also consider impact on their health, the environment and the greater good.

If you are one of the 73% of companies who has “sustainability” listed as a strategic priority and you are not already thinking about the 70 million Conscious Consumers in the U.S. as a market segment, here are four signs that you should be:

  1. Your product or service is more environmentally friendly than your competitors’. Conscious Consumers are sensitive to being green. They do not always make the most green choice available, but they at least consider environmental impact. Whether your product or service is green because it has less packaging, uses less energy or is made more locally than alternatives, they care.
  2. You offer a product that makes a healthy difference. With obesity storming on the scene as a public health concern, millions of Americans seek ways to incorporate physical activity and healthy eating into their busy days. Foods are being fortified in new ways (protein in your water, anyone?), treadmill desks are on employee wish lists and even apartment window boxes no longer function as ashtrays, but sprout mini urban gardens. If you make it easy for people to live healthier, Conscious Consumers need you.
  3. You aim to “do well by doing good.” Corporate social responsibility programs are now part of most large companies’ strategic plans. Your program may engage all your customers like Target’s multi-pronged “here for good” campaign, or as a smaller company, perhaps you strive for 100 percent participation in an annual United Way campaign or spend a day building a house for Habitat for Humanity. Whatever your effort may be, if Conscious Consumers know about it, they’ll be more likely to spend a few more cents on your product or recommend it to others.
  4. You want to reach influencers. At one point, environmentalism and health advocacy were fringe issues for hippies and extremists. The mainstreaming of these ideas has all but eliminated political differentiation – Republicans and Democrats alike turn off the water while they brush their teeth and take reusable bags to the grocery store. Conscious Consumers come from all different backgrounds, but are consistently early adopters who make conscientious purchasing decisions that they share with friends, family and co-workers. If you want people who are likely to increase your word-of-mouth marketing, you want Conscious Consumers.

Conscious Consumers certainly aren’t going anywhere. They’re going to keep making decisions based on what really matters. Are you in a position to help them make a difference?

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. 

 

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.

Do You Know What Hispanics Want from Sustainable Products? You should.

Thursday, April 18, 2013 by

Hispanic sustainability We all know that the Hispanic population in the US is growing, and that they are changing every market they touch – from politics to grocery to banking – and everything in between.  But, have you considered how this growing demographic affects the LOHAS market, and your brand?

According to NMI’s most recent LOHAS Consumer Trends Database®, Hispanics* share a number of green-minded attitudes and behaviors.  For instance, they are more likely to be active in a number of areas:

  • Consumer Packaged Goods: More likely to report using natural products, such as natural home care products and natural personal care products
  • Energy:  More likely to state willingness to pay for renewable power, currently use renewable power, and to own an energy meter
  • Habits: More likely to take reusable bags to the grocery store, remind others to be environmentally-friendly, and contact their politicians regarding environmental issues

Aside from their above-average engagement, it is notable that these attitudes and behaviors span the gamut of sustainability – a range of product categories and behaviors spike for them.  In other words, they aren’t cherry-picking their involvement, it is more broad-based. 

There are implications for both Hispanic-focused and “green” brands.  Brands targeting Hispanics should be addressing their target consumers’ sustainable interests.  For instance, Dove has worked hard at attracting Latinas.  Unilever also has a very strong sustainability platform.  However, the two efforts seem to work independently, rather than synergistically. 

The flip-side is that “green” brands should ensure their marketing communications resonate with Hispanics.  Expect to tailor your communications to this audience in both copy and creative (not just drop your existing ads in Hispanic media outlets), but if executed well, this demographic could significantly expand your brand’s reach.

Both the Hispanic and sustainability markets are changing rapidly, and this appears to be an opportunistic time to understand how these two cultural forces interact.  NMI will be further exploring this market in collaboration with The Shelton Group in a joint study later this year.  For more information, please contact Gwynne.Villota@nmisolutions.com.

 

*English-speaking Hispanics only

Shoppers' shifting values will lead to more green, fair, quality purchases

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 by

The sharing trend that became popular with Zipcar is likely to expand to other industries such as tools and baby gear as consumers readjust their spending patterns to focus less on conspicuous consumption and more on making thoughtful choices with their money, says one leading social forecaster.

In the improving but not yet booming economy of 2013, Patricia Aburdene, author of the New York Times bestseller "Megatrends 2000" and most recently "Conscious Money" (Atria Publishing; $16 paperback), predicts priorities and values will play a bigger role in shaping spending decisions.

"Key concepts like practical, quality, meaningful, simplicity, chemical-free, local and sustainable will be what encourages consumers to open their wallets," said Ms. Aburdene, who lives in Boulder, Colo.

For the most part, people are still feeling some financial stress brought on by the Great Recession that started in December 2007, which she says is fueling the popularity of sharing trends such as Zipcar, which allows members of its sharing network to reserve cars for personal use by the hour or the day.

The car-sharing niche created by Zipcar in January 2000 is already starting to see more competitors. Hertz, Enterprise and UHaul have come up with their own versions of short-term car rentals. Regional competitors such as City CarShare in San Francisco, Mint in New York and Boston; and I-GO in Chicago also are becoming bigger players.

"Car sharing is taking off because people are realizing how darn much it costs to own a car," Ms. Aburdene said, adding that car sharing is more of an urban phenomenon.

Other new societal demands and behavior that she expects will gain more traction are transparency, fair trade and third-party verification of products.

Just as the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" helped consumers in past decades put their trust in a product, Ms. Aburdene says more shoppers will be drawn to seals of approval from groups like Greenpeace and the Rain Forest Alliance. "Those product seals will let consumers know the company is socially responsible and the consumer is making a difference in the world when they buy the product," she said.

Fair trade is another growing global movement that will affect spending, according to Ms. Aburdene. Fair trade products -- ranging from coffee to chocolate to wine -- sometimes cost more so that farmers are paid fairly for their efforts.

Gerald Celente, publisher of The Trends Journal in Kingston, N.Y., said he agrees with Ms. Aburdene's analysis of 2013 trends in general. But he says the majority of Americans are on a downward economic path and may not have the luxury of making socially conscious spending choices, especially when there are cheaper alternatives.

"While they can have the best intentions, it's a stomach issue and a pocketbook issue. People are falling out of the middle class in huge numbers," said Mr. Celente, who forecast the popularity of gourmet coffee years before Starbucks became a household name and bottled water decades before Coke and Pepsi got into the business.

Mr. Celente, author of "Trend Tracking" and "Trends 2000" (Warner Books), said Ms. Aburdene's trend predictions for the new year refer mainly to a small segment of people in an affluent society, but do not apply to the masses of Americans struggling to make ends meet.

However, Ms. Aburdene has a pretty good track record of past predictions.

In "Megatrends 2000," which was published in 1990, when many economists warned of tough economic times ahead, she and co-author John Naisbitt instead predicted a booming global economy during the 1990s. The book also predicted the Pacific Rim would come to prominence in the 1990s, and it certainly did, with China and the economies of the Four Tigers (Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan) expanding at explosive rates.

"When you look at the trends for 2013, the social trends have a very strong economic flavor to them," Ms. Aburdene said. "The way consumers can begin being conscious about money is to start by reflecting on their values and priorities so they spend money in ways that feel right to them."


First Published February 26, 2013 1:15 am by Tim Grant: tgrant@post-gazette.com