Green Social Networks

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.

 

 

 

 

Developing a Lexicon for Ocean Preservation

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 by
 
Water covers more than 71 percent of the earth's surface, yet we have no international ocean police. (Photo, Kevin M. Gill, flickr)
 
Water covers more than 71 percent of the earth's surface, yet we have no international ocean police. (Photo, Kevin M. Gill, flickr)
Almost a year ago to the day, I found myself diving in the Cook Islands with Conservation International’s Sylvia Earle, Greg Stone and Peter Seligmann.  Perhaps you recall my article “Diving with the Dream Team”?  This was my first immersion, literally and figuratively, into the recently raised – and critically important – issues surrounding ocean conservation.   A lot has happened in the last year to make this a topline agenda item for NGOs, members of the business elite, and conservation societies alike.   To use an appropriate metaphor, ocean policy and preservation is the next big wave of environmental consideration and concern.
 
Think back to Teddy Roosevelt’s initiatives to promote nature and encourage land conservation in the 1920s – we are at that same point in time with regard to the oceans.  As in, the first inning.  No, make that top of the first inning.  It is an exciting field to study but one that resembles the Wild Wild West.  I hope to shed some light on what important new and existing preservation projects mean to the public, the fish, the coral reefs, and our future.  We are past the point of prevention but rather, we must undo some of the damage we have done – caused mainly by ocean acidification, overfishing, and bottom trawling.  There are many new and vague terms that leave the average swimmer, diver, and/or surfer, palms up.  This will serve as an introduction to the vernacular being used to describe these projects.
 
Let’s start with ocean acidification.  Basically, this refers to the increased carbon dioxide that is now in our atmosphere.  Thus there is more carbon, and less oxygen, directly contacting the oceans at sea level than in the past.  This is negatively affecting the health of coral reefs and other flora and fauna underwater.
 
Now about overfishing.  Think about this in a different way: On terra firma, vehicles are generally limited to paved roads.  And we have a huge infrastructure of local, state and federal police who patrol our roadways.  Now think of the skies, which are carefully supervised by the FAA, designated airspace, and a large network of control towers in major cities throughout the globe.  Both on land and in the air, penalties for not following the rules of the road can be quite punitive.  Simple enough.
 
Currently, without a network of satellite monitoring AND collection of significant fines in place, there is essentially no punitive way to stop overfishing and other detrimental activities. (Photo, wikimedia)
Currently, without a network of satellite monitoring AND collection of significant fines in place, there is essentially no punitive way to stop overfishing and other detrimental activities. (Photo, wikimedia)
 
Now, think about the oceans.  Water covers more than 71% of the earth’s surface.  Yet we have no international ocean police, no “ocean FAA” if you will…only a relatively infinitesimal handful of Coast Guard and related non-military vessels, worldwide, to guard the seas.  So what’s a mother to do about less-than-trustworthy fishing boats – mostly carrying the flags of European and Asian nations – that are overfishing, bottom-trawling, shark-fin-hunting and other extremely damaging activities?
 
Over 100 million sharks are killed every year -- mostly for their fins, as in shark fin soup. Unconscionable. (Photo, fastcompany)
 
For this answer, I sought out a few of the world’s leading experts, including none other than Sir Richard Branson.  He is a member of a group called the OceanElders, which consists of 14 dignitaries who are committed to protecting and preserving the world’s oceans and the wildlife therein.  Other members include Queen Noor, Ted Turner, Neil Young, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Jackson Browne, and Dr. Sylvia Earle, among other luminaries.  Anyway, I asked Branson if by using technology, is there any way to successfully monitor the oceans for commercial fishing vessels, polluters and other maritime villains?  His comments:
 
OceanElders, a group of 14 dignitaries who are committed to protecting and preserving the world's oceans and the wildlife therein. (Photo, oneworldocean)
 
“Remote sensing of shipping from satellites is already a reality. Vessels that carry the required transponders can be tracked and identified in real time. The flaws in the present systems are that vessels can turn off the transponders and that they are not mandatory for all vessels. International agreements and treaties can fix that. The UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the best agency to organize and execute an improved ship location program.”
 
Out of the UN’s 193 member states, 170 are currently members of the IMO – including both large and small players alike, such as China, Japan, US, UK, Thailand, Madagascar, and Mozambique.  “This means that once an action is approved by the [IMO], that action has force of domestic law in the member states. So a more vigorous ship tracking program can have teeth,” Branson explained.  But what about enforcement?
 
“One option that is technically feasible today is unmanned vehicles (AUVs) that are constantly on patrol and prepared to call for assistance when needed. Another enforcement idea that really appeals to me is to develop a global directory of fishing vessels which habitually fish in distant waters from their home ports.  As trespassers are identified, they go into the database and are flagged.  A similar scheme is used by many of the major maritime nations to identify problem vessels. Those in the database that have poor safety and/or operating records can be denied entrance to seaports or will not be allowed to depart unless certain remedial steps are taken.”
 
Map of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) in the Galapagos.
 
Branson provides a realistic and honest appraisal here of where we are on this pressing issue.  And clearly, we are indeed in the first inning.  What happens when a less-than-honest fishing vessel enters a protected zone and dredges the area for sharks, killing everything else in the net’s wake and disturbing the coral to boot?  If the ship’s transponder is turned off before committing the crime…nothing.  And currently, without a network of satellite monitoring AND collection of significant fines in place, there is essentially no punitive way to stop this activity.  Which is why 100 million sharks are killed every year – mostly for their fins, as in shark fin soup.  Unconscionable.
 
So are there any parts of the ocean that are being protected?  There are a number of marine protected areas (MPA) throughout the world.  One small but significant example lies in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean, called PIPA for (Phoenix Island Protected Area).   PIPA is located in the Republic of Kiribati (pronounced Kiri-BAS), an ocean nation in the central Pacific approximately midway between Australia and Hawaii. PIPA constitutes 11.34 percent of Kiribati’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and with a size of over 150,000 square miles, it is one of the largest marine protected areas (MPA) in the Pacific Ocean.  (For more info on PIPA, listen to this TED Talk.)
 
Conservation International’s Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist, Gregory Stone, was the driving force in conception and creation of PIPA.  Kiribati has declared that three percent of this EEZ is a “no catch zone” and fishing is strictly prohibited.  Three percent may not sound like much, but this is still a large area – 4,500 square miles – and it is home to high value reefs, bird nesting islands, and tuna fishing grounds.  There is a sensitivity here because poor countries such as Kiribati derive significant income from taxing the fishing vessels. Thus they must be compensated from other sources to make up for the lost revenue in return for their cooperation.
 
Covering over 150,000 square miles, PIPA is one of the largest marine protected areas (MPA) in the Pacific Ocean. (Photo, Conservation International)
 
I had an opportunity to catch up with Dr. Stone on how Conservation International (CI) is trying to craft a way to monitor the PIPA area, among other protected waters. “We are talking to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) about how we can use satellites to monitor the waters.  Extremely sophisticated aerial cameras are available, and these could be used for ocean surveillance and enforcement.  If we can create a way to document the presence of a vessel and, through licensing and electronic observation, obtain the name and home base of the boat, we would then be able to track and ultimately enforce severe fines and other penalties,” he explained.
 
Indeed, enforcement is easier when there is a government that has rights to the water space in question.  What happens when this is not the case, for example, in the Sargasso Sea?  The Sargasso Sea is the earth’s only sea or ocean without a land boundary. This extraordinary open-ocean ecosystem is bounded by currents circulating around the North Atlantic sub-tropical gyre.  The Sargasso Sea provides habitats, spawning areas, migration pathways and feeding grounds to a diverse ecosystem, including a number of endangered yet commercially important species.  Dr. Earle has called it “the golden rainforest of the ocean.”
 
I consulted Sargasso Sea expert David Shaw, a respected business and social entrepreneur who is also a National Park Trustee. Shaw put into proper perspective the challenges the environmental world faces when trying to educate the public on the threats to ocean health. “A big issue is trying to create a consciousness about the world’s largest habitat.  Unlike the terrestrial world, ocean health is often not part of our daily thoughts in the same way that unhealthy air, rivers or land may be. We need to understand that world oceans are not infinitely forgiving…we cannot see all the damage. And we are best served if debate about ocean health and other environmental issues is based on fact-based science versus emotional arguments,” Shaw explained.
 
Shaw is founding chair of an alliance formed to study the ecology of the Sargasso Sea and to create a range of stewardship measures to conserve its health.  The Sargasso Sea Alliance is led by the government of Bermuda, working with other nations as well as NGOs.  So far, among other results, the Alliance has developed a robust “Summary Science and Evidence Case for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea” with over 74 collaborators.  Under executive director Dr David Freestone, the Alliance is planning to bring the governments of the countries around the Sargasso Sea – including the US, Dominican Republic and Portugal – together with the European Union Commission to Bermuda in 2014 to sign an international declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea and to establish a permanent Sargasso Sea Commission, based in Bermuda, to oversee the health of this unique high seas ecosystem.
 
Dr. Sylvia Earle has called the Saragasso Sea "the golden rainforest of the ocean." (Photo, sylviaearlealliance.org)
 
The urgency to protect ocean wildlife is not strictly the fantasy of environmentalists and watermen.  We are talking about a far more serious question: How will we feed the world 20 years from now? Indeed, if we do not stop the systematic destruction of our ocean resources, we could have a serious seafood shortfall; this is on a collision course with simultaneous population growth.  It would seem the key is to create a way to monitor overfishing, and soon.  The concepts that Branson and Stone talk of, using GPS and related technology for this purpose, would seem to be our best chance for monitoring the oceans successfully.  Question is, who will organize the nations of the world in this effort, and how do we effectively police two thirds of the earth’s surface?  If we don’t collectively address and solve this pressing issue, the phrase “plenty of fish in the sea” may turn into a deadly falsehood.
 
Read more by Jennifer Schwab on her Inner Green.

An Expert's Advice on Buying and Supporting Local Business

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 by

 

Believe it or not, there are as many answers to the question - what is a local business? - as there are “buy local” advocacy groups in the country. In my state of Colorado alone there are at least four definitions - depending on who you ask.

So to try and get a better understanding of how ONE Colorado small business advocate defines local business and what it meant to support local business – I had a Q&A session with Richard Fleming, Board President of the Boulder Independent Business Alliace (BIBA).

Q. What is Biba's definition of a local business?

A: Well, first, BIBA's definition of a local business was created to standardize how to treat businesses that apply to be members. Our [Biba’s] guidelines can be found on our website, and include the following four criteria:

  1. Private ownership
  2. Owned in majority by area (within 60-mile radius) resident(s)
  3. Full decision-making function for the business lies with its owner(s)
  4. No more than 6 outlets; bases of operation lie within a single state

There are specific reasons for some of these standards, like receiving marketing assets or aid from a corporate office. I think we can agree that a small business isn’t on equal footing with a large business when that large business can reach out to a corporate office for regional support.  For example, Boulder County Supplies isn't going to be able to compete with a company like Office Depot or Staples. The same goes for McGuckin and Home Depot or Lowe's - they simply don't have the infrastructure to out-market companies that large.

Limiting to 6 outlets was primarily a way to better define our value proposition, and let businesses know when they've grown too large to benefit from our services.  We can make select exceptions, following Board approval, but the guideline helps to quickly deduce eligibility for most prospective members.


Q. What does it mean to support local businesses?

A: Support them. I mean support in a financial way.  Spend money.  People may not realize it, but spending money is one of the absolute best things you can do for a hurting economy.  Further, I'd ask that people talk about, involve themselves with, and recommend small businesses to their friends and family.  Engagement marketing, where you involve your social networks, is hugely beneficial to small businesses.  And it costs nothing, but saves independent businesses tons.


Q. What if you traveled outside Boulder County, to Ft. Collins, for example, should you buy a Boulder product you know is from Boulder, or a similar product made in Ft. Collins?

A: There are two main components to this question: 1) distribution and 2) manufacturing. Given the scope of the question, I'll only refer to distribution for now. The idea is to buy from where you live.  If you're travelling, please visit a local business instead of a chain store.  The majority of the time, your experience will actually be more pleasant, and they have a stronger, more direct focus on enhancing their own community through charity and the multiplier effect.  The multiplier effect is when money gets recirculated in a community because it isn't being transferred to a corporate office.  So, if you spend a dollar at Starbucks, all but about 14 cents goes to their corporate office to be spent on things that benefit their state (more likely their shareholders), not our community.  Those 14 cents are usually just payroll for their Colorado employees.  If you spend that same dollar at a local shop, like Caffè Sole, about 68 cents remains here.  That means there are more instances of sales tax being generated, which directly go to the things we love about our town - like parks and city services.


Manufacturing is actually a much more complex issue.  We are working on that. It's already started with food.  Boulder has a lot of farm-to-plate efforts because people recognize the benefit of eating locally sourced produce.  The best way to stimulate an economy is through manufacturing.  Boulder isn't really primed for that, but that's largely because we haven't completely solved the infrastructure issues.  We're trying to approach manufacturing from a progressive standpoint, but are still conforming to the old ways of doing things.  As the presence of B-corporations increase, we will see more instances of innovative, low-profile manufacturing that has much less of an impact on the environment.


Q. What if someone from Ft. Collins came to Boulder - would you want them to buy a local Boulder product, or a similar product they know was made in Ft. Collins?

A: This kind of bleeds into the manufacturing bit, so I'll just offer that I think you should support any local business.  It isn't about splitting the hairs between geography that close.  It's about the difference in community investment strategies. There's a mountain of difference between businesses that answer to stakeholders and those that answer to the self-interest of the community within which they reside.

 

If nothing else, I hope Richard's explanation of how BIBA works helps clarify the basic concept and importance of supporting and buying local. For a little more insight check out the YouTube video and share with us your feedback: How do you define a local businesses? Do you support your local businesses, and how? If don’t or can’t,  why not?

 

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.

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

Wealth + Well Being = True Prosperity?

Friday, March 1, 2013 by

What is genuine prosperity? Whether you are an individual devoted to growing Conscious Money, a LOHAS company committed to delivering value to your customers, or an architect of economic policy, it serves you well to contemplate that question. When you do, you may find yourself wanting to distinguish true prosperity from the mundane variety that may dazzle at first, only to unravel because it is highly unsustainable. Many are tempted to define prosperity in strict economic terms. Metrics are handy and besides, we’re talking about financial matters, aren’t we? 

Not entirely. As Robert F. Kennedy said in 1968, “The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play … It does not include the beauty of our poetry . . . our wisdom . . . our compassion . . . it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”
RFK’s moving remarks are especially pertinent today because, despite continued inequities, glaring injustices, and distressing environmental developments, an initial level of economic well-being is within reach for hundreds of millions of people, particularly in Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and some of the more prosperous countries of Africa and the Middle East. For this reason, I would argue that the potential for people to practice Conscious Money is becoming a truly global phenomenon. That statement holds enormous ramifications for the LOHAS movement.
But how on earth do we factor in the many and deep dimensions of life that as Robert Kennedy told us, cannot be measured by what some call “the numbers”? 
 
Introducing: The Legatum Prosperity Index
True prosperity requires us to examine a complex set of human factors that encompass human values and consciousness. Determining and measuring the factors that sustain prosperity is the work of the London-based Legatum Prosperity Index, a global database that defines prosperity as wealth and well-being.  The Index’s findings often defy traditional thinking about who is prosperous and who is not. For example, the United States, often deemed the world’s wealthiest nation, ranks as only the tenth most prosperous. And the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, which is hardly considered well-to-do, ranks number 46 on the Prosperity Index, a few notches higher than oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which comes in at 49th. One intriguing and positive Index metric shows that the people of sub-Saharan Africa are more optimistic about entrepreneurship than those of many richer countries.
The Prosperity Index evaluates 110 countries (comprising 90 percent of the world’s population) on eight foundational factors of prosperity: economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital. Except for “economy,” which might be construed as purely financial, these building blocks of prosperity, in one way or another, gauge or reflect human values or higher consciousness. 
For example, education raises human awareness: higher education levels generally point to greater possibility of conscious choice. Entrepreneurship requires hope, a core human value. Security frees the human spirit to engage in productive activity, including economic activity. Social capital, which the Index defines as cohesive community and family networks, relies on the value of trust, the lack of which is highly detrimental to prosperity. 
As the potential for Conscious Money expands globally, we can see the world anew, envisioning fresh opportunities for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, to live, work, and invest in a world of peace and prosperity. But as the Legatum Prosperity Index demonstrates, it is not economics alone, but economics infused with shared consciousness cultivates the right conditions for a rich, fulfilling life. The Index also shows us that money, values, and consciousness are seamlessly intertwined in the dynamic of human economic evolution here on planet Earth. 
That bodes well for the future of the LOHAS movement and its continued international expansion.
 
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 at  http://www.beyondword.com/product/Conscious-Money-02926. 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.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"The Next 20 Years of Sustainable Business" by Aron Cramer of BSR

Monday, December 31, 2012 by

[ Article form the special 20th Anniversary issue of the GreenMoney Journal (Fall 2012) and www.GreenMoney.com ]

The Next 20 Years of Sustainable Business

by Aron Cramer, President and CEO, BSR (Business for Social Responsibility)

Twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio, and in this BSR’s 20th anniversary year, we are both looking back and looking ahead. And as we reflect on the past 20 years, it seems that everything has changed…and nothing has changed. There are reasons to celebrate great achievements, but even more reasons to redouble efforts to achieve the tangible successes that are necessary to put the world on a genuinely sustainable path. Just recently there has been an unprecedented turnout by business and civil society at Rio+20, while at the same time the American Meteorological Society reports that freak heat waves in the US and fatal floods in Russia were likely caused by climate change.

Most businesses, and many other institutions, now recognize that we have in our hands the ability to create an economy that delivers dignified lives of comfort and opportunity for the 9 billion people we expect in 2050; an energy system that enables economic growth without irreversible climate change; and access to food, energy, water, and technology. Whether or not we turn this vision into reality is not just of interest to sustainability professionals, it is nothing less than the central challenge of the 21st century.

There are indeed many great accomplishments that have been achieved since 1992. As sustainability enters the mainstream, we see that hundreds of millions of people have escaped poverty in the past generation, something never before achieved in human history. Most large multinational companies and countless small and medium enterprises (SMEs) all across the world have embraced sustainability. Consumers, investors, and governments have vastly more information than ever before to enable them to assess how business is performing on sustainability, allowing rewards for the best performers. Collaboration and dialogue between business, NGOs, and community organizations, once taboo, is now considered basic. Technology’s ability to connect us has created a global community unprecedented in human history. And where companies once saw corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a risk mitigation exercise, more and more understand sustainability to be the mother of all innovation opportunities. All this is great cause for optimism.

And yet, there are many, many areas in which, twenty years after the initial Earth Summit, progress is insufficient. Our planet continues to warm, with carbon levels nearing 400 parts per million, dangerously close to the point at which irredeemable changes will occur. We need only consider the thousands of record high temperatures in the early summer of 2012 in North America, capping the hottest year on record in the United States, to make the point. The International Energy Agency, hardly an alarmist organization, now sees serious risk of catastrophic climate change. Deforestation proceeds. Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals is inconsistent. The number of water-stressed regions in the world grows annually. And our measures of economic vitality remain tied to unsustainable levels of natural resource consumption. Governments have largely abdicated responsibility to take concerted action to promote low-carbon economic growth, wilting in the face of the global financial crisis. This litany makes clear that, by many objective measures, progress is far too slow – at best.

Without a change in course, the remarkable rise in living standards that have enabled countless people to live lives of dignity will either be halted or reversed.

But with new thinking, innovation, and collaborative action, we can transform our world, and turn the vision of sustainable, prosperous lives for nine billion people into a reality.

Where We Need To Go

If we are to build on the successes of the last twenty years, we need to change course. The task ahead is no longer about defining the challenge; it is about meeting the challenge. We don’t need more roadmaps; we need to move faster towards the destination.

The path forward is fundamentally different than the one we have traveled over the past two decades. In the first decade after the original Earth Summit, the time when BSR was founded, the primary challenge was to raise awareness in the business community about why sustainability was a crucial and legitimate topic for the private sector. In the subsequent decade, energies were directed less to awareness raising, and more to the integration of social and environmental strategies into business strategy and operations. For the decade ahead, integration remains crucial. Companies have made great progress in the past two decades, and we have been proud to play a role in that. There is considerable room to go further, and we write about that elsewhere in this article.

But a new decade brings a new approach. More substantial progress, however, depends on change not only inside individual companies, but also within entire systems. The era of the hermetically sealed, vertically integrated company is long gone. Every business, in every part of the world, operates within a web of systems: economic, cultural, political, and natural. Every business in every part of the world relies on networks of suppliers, customers, and investors. Even the most innovative companies won’t capture the potential of their efforts if these systems disregard sustainability. And as much as we value best practices, we also know from the past two decades that even the most creative experiments and demonstration projects are not going to meet the scale of the challenge.

So the solutions we need to achieve our goals must also be systemic. A genuinely sustainable economy depends on four inter-related elements: (1) the operational systems in which companies act; (2) the markets that shape the way investments are made and value is defined; (3) the stakeholder world that holds great promise, and (4) the world of ever more empowered individuals and connected communities.

   •     Truly Integrated Business Models: Business decision-making does not currently integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into investment calculations. Fifteen years after John Elkington popularized the triple bottom line, very few companies have actually integrated this model into their economic valuations. Whether or not financial markets change the game, there is an opportunity for companies to get smarter about the intangible assets that increasingly make or break their success. While some companies are experimenting with economic valuations that include elements like carbon, we have not yet seen widespread adoption of economic models that place a value on ecosystem services, community goodwill, or the risk of stranded assets. It is now widely agreed that these things have value; our task for the next decade is to get more precise about what the value is, and how to measure it. The Natural Capital Declaration that 57 companies signed at Rio+20 is a good start down this path.

   •     Financial Markets That Promote Long-Term Value: Despite the Great Recession, public markets focus as intensely as ever on short-term returns. Shares in publicly traded companies in the United States are held for an average of seven months, down from seven years two generations ago. Markets allocate capital with great effect, and the challenge ahead is to maintain the best aspects of market flexibility while reducing the relentless pressure of short-termism. Financial innovation, which was blamed for the crash in 2008, can also be parlayed into new mechanisms that help create long-term value. Integrated reporting, integration of non-financial risks and opportunities into definitions of fiduciary duty, the creation of “L shares” as proposed by Al Gore and David Blood, as well as other mechanisms will create a virtuous circle in which companies are rewarded for taking the long view, and investors are cushioned from the risks of excessive short-term thinking. And there is little doubt that there is also the need to restore trust in our financial system if the “real economy” is going to thrive.

   •     New Frontiers of Collaboration: The past 20 years introduced the concept of collaboration among companies and an increasingly powerful network of NGOs around the world. The next 20 years will see the lines between for-profit and not-for-profit organizations blur substantially. A world of dialogue between organizations defined by whether they are for-profit or non-profit may be drawing to a close. Can we imagine a world in which every enterprise is a social enterprise? A world in which every NGO thinks about market solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges? How will companies collaborate when every individual has a megaphone bigger than those available to the world’s biggest NGOs 20 years ago?

   •     The Empowered Individual: The next ten years will continue to put more and more information and autonomy into the hands of individuals and self-forming groups. The demise of business models relying on big businesses selling to passive mass audiences will accelerate. More and more information will be available to individuals. The “internet of things” and widespread sensors will make the invisible visible. Advances in biotechnology will provide quantum leaps in our understanding of how the world around us, and our choices as consumers and citizens, affects our health. These changes can – under the right circumstances – be a net positive for sustainability. And it is undeniably the case that companies will need to adapt to a world of truly radical transparency.

At BSR, we want to see a world with a truly inclusive economy that enables all people to meet their needs, shape their futures, and achieve their potential. We want to see a world that values and preserves natural resources so that future generations have the same – or better – opportunity to thrive. We see a world where economic health – for individuals and for nations and enterprises – is measured not by the quantity of consumption, but by the quality of life that economic activity delivers. And we want to see a world in which public policy and markets create the incentives and rules that make it possible for businesses that point in this direction to thrive. Companies that embrace this challenge will be the ones to achieve the greatest success…and the ones who create a world of which we can be proud.

The road ahead needs greater emphasis on systemic solutions like those I describe here. If real progress is made in these areas over the next twenty years, we will have done a great deal to accelerate… and will have more reasons to celebrate.

 

Article by Aron Cramer, President and CEO, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) (www.bsr.org ). Mr. Cramer is recognized globally as an authority on corporate responsibility by leaders in business and NGOs as well as by his peers in the field. He advises senior executives at BSR’s nearly 300 member companies and other global businesses, and is regularly featured as a speaker at major events and in a range of media outlets. Under his leadership, BSR has doubled its staff and significantly expanded its global presence. Mr. Cramer is co-author of the book Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-changing World, about the corporate responsibility strategies that drive business success. He joined BSR in 1995 as the founding director of its Business and Human Rights Program, and opened BSR’s Paris office in 2002, where he worked until assuming his current roles in 2004.

Previously he practiced law in San Francisco and worked as a journalist at ABC News in New York. He has expertise in integrating sustainability into business strategy, human rights policies and practices, and stakeholder engagement.

 

For more information go to- www.GreenMoney.com

 

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Slipping Green Through the Back Door

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 by

Laguna Niguel, CA — America is going green, but not the way environmentalists had planned it. The unlikely hero is none other than Corporate America, which is giving consumers the green whether they realize it or not. Why? Because it’s good for the customer, it’s good business, and let’s face it, as MGM Senior Vice President of Environment and Energy Cindy Ortega articulates, “It is also good for employee morale and retention — people want to work for companies who care about the world around them.”

 

"Over 70 percent of the wood we now sell is certified. But you won't find us advertising or promoting that fact," said Ron Jarvis, senior vice president of Environmental Innovation for The Home Depot. Photo by Mathew Wilson (Courtesy of Flickr).

Here’s a great example of this sales strategy as employed by The Home Depot: “Over 70 percent of the wood we now sell is certified. But you won’t find us advertising or promoting that fact,” said Ron Jarvis, senior vice president of Environmental Innovation for The Home Depot at its Atlanta headquarters. Jarvis was in Laguna Niguel recently to attend “Fortune Brainstorm Green,” a high level conference attended by many prominent green industry corporate and NGO executives.

“Our data shows that most customers will not pay extra for sustainable wood, and in some cases, they consider “green” wood a negative. We believe that FSC wood is the best way to go for both quality and sustainability reasons, so, most of the wood we sell in developing countries is FSC certified. We do believe in educating our customers and employees about sustainability, but at the same time the voice of the customer is always our top priority. Thus including FSC wood without charging a price premium is the right thing to do, and thankfully, due to our enormous volume and purchasing power, we can make this equation work business-wise,” Jarvis explained.

Jarvis’ competitors at Lowe’s also have a couple examples of this same premise. “There are multiple variations of a “green” consumer. In fact, according to the 2011 US LOHAS Consumers Trends poll, 83 percent of consumers identify with “green” at some level. However, the greenness of consumers changes with multiple factors, including the economy and available income, as well as age and generations,” said Michael Chenard, Director of Corporate Sustainability for Lowe’s at its Mooresville, NC headquarters. “Today, 100 percent of the bathroom faucets Lowe’s carries are WaterSense (low flow) certified, and that’s been the case for more than three years. Lowe’s also has more in-stock Energy Star-qualified appliances and lighting fixtures than any other major home improvement retailer.”

 

According to the 2011 US LOHAS Consumers Trends poll, 83 percent of consumers identify with "green" at some level. Graph by Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), 2009 LOHAS Consumer Trends Database.

Keeping with the theme of “going green through the back door,” shipping giant UPS is using sophisticated software and data to develop the cheapest, most fuel efficient way to move packages from point A to point B. These savings are passed along to the consumer, according to Scott Wicker, UPS’ chief sustainability officer at its Atlanta headquarters. Also in attendance at Fortune Brainstorm Green, Wicker said UPS is testing all types of fuel efficient vehicles in its massive fleet, including full electric, hybrid, compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas, among others. Vehicles that operate out of central depots in large urban areas are the best prospect for going full greenfleet because of the range limitations of electric and other nascent technologies. “We also use telematics to monitor over 200 data points via satellite from our trucks, which helps us train the drivers in maximum fuel efficient driving techniques and ensure they are taking the shortest routes, not letting the engines idle excessively, among other factors,” Wicker said. Alas, out of over 100,000 vehicles, only about 2,600 are truly alt-fuel at this time. Wicker says that number will grow over time, but not surprisingly, cost will ultimately trump all other considerations.

 

 

UPS is testing all types of fuel efficient vehicles in its massive fleet, including full electric, hybrid, compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas, among others. Photo by Schnaars (Courtesy of Flickr).

How about the clothes we wear? Levi’s is also employing the “going green through the back door” technique. “We are committed to the Better Cotton Initiative because we believe it can change the way cotton is grown around the world, positively impacting the environment and supporting 300 million people engaged in cotton farming around the world — without creating higher prices for consumers,” said Brianna Wolf, Manager of Environmental Sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co. “Last fall, we started blending the first Better Cotton harvest into Levi and Denizen products. To date, we’ve produced more than five million garments containing a Better Cotton blend.” However, you won’t find a label identifying clothing made with Better Cotton quite yet. “Participating brands are holding off on direct product labeling during this start-up phase, to allow supply to scale to meet demand. For now, we encourage consumers to learn more about Better Cotton and support brands who are integrating it into their product lines at bettercotton.org,” explained Wolf.

And what about that all-important cup of morning Joe? While many consumers are frustrated by Starbucks’ lack of recyclable cups, the company does take good care of its key suppliers — the coffee growers toiling in the fields of faraway places. “When someone buys a cup of our coffee, they probably don’t know that the beans are produced with social, environmental and economic best practices in mind. Our C.A.F.E. Practices coffee-buying program includes rigorous sourcing standards covering: fair wages and benefits; access to medical care and education; specific high standards for conservation and biodiversity; amongst other criteria.” said Kelly Goodejohn, Director of Ethical Sourcing for Starbucks. “For the past ten years we have partnered with Conservation International on C.A.F.E. Practices. Currently, 84% of our coffee is ethically sourced through this model. By 2015, 100% of our coffee will be third party verified or certified, ensuring that all the coffee we purchase has been grown and processed responsibly.”

 

 

By 2015, Starbucks vows to have 100% of their coffee be third party verified or certified, ensuring that all the coffee they purchase has been grown and processed responsibly. Photo Courtesy of Starbucks. 

Indeed, there are some case histories that bear out the thesis that mostly due to the economy, consumers simply have not embraced going green over the past several years. This is a bitter pill to swallow for green opinion leaders, but may explain why products like Clorox Green Works home cleaning products have gone straight up, then plunged back to earth with a resounding thud. Recall that Green Works was launched in 2008 with great fanfare, and zoomed to over $100 million in sales within two years. Inexplicably, sales started to drop off, and even a price reduction to parity with non-green competitive products could not revive Green Works. Adding insult to injury, general opinion of experts was that the Green Works products performed very well, and backed up the claims made by Clorox. This is worthy of mention because a number of green products have been rushed to market without proper testing, bringing a black eye to the movement when consumers felt snake bit by paying premium prices for products that did not live up to their hype.

“In the past, consumers have felt that purchasing green products would require some form of sacrifice — spending more money or an inferior design. Today, that has changed,” declared Joel Babbit, CEO and co-founder of online daily green news magazine Mother Nature Network (MNN). “Not only have prices become more comparable — but the associated savings in lower energy bills, water usage, and using lesser quantities that come with green products often result in a cost advantage. On the design side — as opposed to the clunky or boring approach so common just a few years ago — many of the most innovative and attractive products now entering the market are green.”

You can read more by Jennifer Schwab by following her blog, Inner Green.

 

 

LOHAS Announces Its Regional Networking Event Series

Thursday, August 9, 2012 by

LOHAS is proud to announce we have partnered with FLOR, a company of Interface, to launch our regional networking events across the U.S.

These are designed for executives to network among other LOHAS minded professionals within their regional areas. We hope you can join us and others at one of our events for an evening of networking and conscious business conversations.

Upcoming Events:

Boston, Thursday - September 27th
236 Clarendon Street Boston, MA 02116

Boston has a strong LOHAS following and our event looks to bring an eclectic mix of professionals together.

REGISTER HERE

 

Washington DCWashington DC, Friday - September 28th
1037 33rd Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Our event is paired right next to the Greenfestival and anticipate many from GreenFest as well as those in wellness and social responsible investing. Where else would they meet other than at a LOHAS event?

REGISTER HERE

 

San Francisco, Wednesday - October 10th
2226 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

The Bay Area LOHAS following is one of the largest and we anticipate a full house of enlightened business executives focusing on green business, social responsibility, wellness, organics and all of the other elements that are inherent to both San Francisco and LOHAS.

Vist our website for updates.

 

Palo Alto, Thursday - October 11th

We are thrilled to be in Palo Alto with our first event there. The attitude and lifestyle are so in line with LOHAS values it makes sense that we provide an event that connects those in the community.

Vist our website for updates.

 

New York, Monday - November 12th

The Big Apple is always a treat and this will be our 6th LOHAS networking reception. Our last NYC event had over 150 executives attend and was buzzing with networking. We anticipate this to continue.

Vist our website for updates.

 

2013 Dates TBD
Los Angeles - January 2013
Denver - February 2013
Seattle & Portland - March 2013
New York - April 2013
Minneapolis - May 2013
Atlanta - May 2013

More details can be found on the LOHAS Website.

If you are interested in sponsoring any of these events please contact us.

Want to help?
We are seeking assistance with these events in the following areas:
• Outreach assistance so that we get the right mix of people at the events
• Volunteers to help with onsite needs
• Photographers to chronicle each event
• Staff to help with sponsor table demos

If you wish to assist in the planning of any of these events please contact us.

We hope that you consider joining us and contributing to the expansion of the LOHAS market!

 

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

We Are All Green Consumers – Now and for the Future

Monday, April 30, 2012 by

Green Purchasing BehaviorGreen has gone mainstream. Not too long ago, just a small group of deep green consumers existed. Today, 83% of consumers (Source: Natural Marketing Institute, 2009) - representing four generations, Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen Ys and Gen Zs - are some shade of green. Each in their own way, these generations are quickly transforming what used to be a fringe market that appealed to a faction of eco-hippies is now a bona fide $290 billion industry ranging from organic foods to hybrid cars, ecotourism to green home furnishings. Teen daughters of yesterday’s activist moms search out Burt’s Bees lip balm made from beeswax while their “twenty-something” brothers opt to clean their new digs with Method ‘s cucumber-fragranced dish liquid. Today’s Dads boast of higher mileage, fewer fill-ups, and the peppy look of their new Mini Coopers or diesel-powered Jettas that get 50-plus miles to the gallon; expect their Gen X sons to be kicking the tires of Nissan’s electric Leaf, now heading towards showroom floors.
 
Thanks to advances in materials and technology, today’s “greener” products (defined as having a lighter impact on the planet than alternatives) and today’s more “sustainable” products (those that add a social dimension, e.g., fair trade) now not only work well, they likely work better and more efficiently than the “brown” counterparts they were designed to replace. Channels of distribution have changed have changed, too.  As I point out in my just released book, The New Rules of Green Marketing (Berrett-Koehler, February 2011)  today, sustainable products are readily available in conventional supermarkets such as Fred Meyer and Safeway, brightly lit emporiums such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market, while mighty Wal-Mart leads the charge towards lifecycle-based standards for products through its groundbreaking Sustainability Consortium
 
Once confined to open spaces and rooftops, solar power is now mobile, fueling a modern-day, on-the-go lifestyle embedded in cellphone chargers, backpacks, and even the latest fleet of powerboats. Or confined to the tissue boxes or wrappers of days gone by, recycled content is now good enough for Kimberly-Clark’s own Scott Naturals line of tissue products (with its new “coreless role”)  and Staples’ EcoEasy office paper, Patagonia’s Synchilla PCR (post-consumer recycled) T-shirts made from recycled soda bottles, and Aveda’s Uruku cosmetics packaging made from recycled newsprint, to name just a few.
 
A sure sign that caring for nature and the planet and the people who live here now and in the future is here to stay – “Sustainability” is a core value of every living generation, starting with the Baby Boomers, the nation’s primary household shoppers and societal leaders who led the green charge back in the mid to late-1960s, and extending right through to Internet-savvy Generations X, Y, and Z who promise to transform markets as future decades unfold.
 
Four Generations of Green
The consuming power of the four current generations is remarkable if marketers can target them by what appeals to them uniquely.
 
Boomers: The First Modern Green Generation
Now the heads of millions of U.S. households, the Baby Boomers and been influencing society since the 1960s when they planted the seeds of the modern day green movement when as idealistic youths, gathered to celebrate the first Earth Day, in 1970, followed by the first Solar Day in 1971. Their peaceful demonstrations of concern gave rise to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the founding of the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, the Clean Air and the Clean Water Acts that same year, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
 
The Middle East oil embargo, marking the beginning of the energy crisis of 1973-75, then focused the Baby Boomers on the need for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.  Witnesses to the 1979 the release of the fictional The China Syndrome, a movie about safety cover-ups at a nuclear power plant, serendipitously opened at theaters two weeks prior to the partial core meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear-generating station near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They learned first hand about the need for renewable energy.
 
Taking the values and attitudes they have instilled upon society and have imparted to their children and grandchildren to supermarket aisles, today, over half of Baby Boomers consider themselves socially conscious shoppers. That’s 40 million green boomers who, as illustrated in the chart below. choose to organize, pluck resource-conserving products from the shelves, boycott products of companies that pollute, and “pro-cott” the products of companies that give back to the community.
 
GenX: Eyes on the World
CNN brought global issues into the living room of this generation 24/7.  Counting among them actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz as two of the most outspoken environmentalists of their generation, Gen Xers see environmental concerns through a lens that aligns social, educational, and political issues. They witnessed the fire in the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal India, and the aftermath of the explosion in Chernobyl. In 1985, the Live Aid concert helped to instill in them the need for famine relief in developing nations to an unprecedented 400 million worldwide, and more pointedly, in 1989, Gen Xers saw the massive devastation wrought by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
 
Millennials: Digital Media at Their Command
This generation grew up in front of computers and unleashing the power of the Internet is second nature to them. Having lived through Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill, and with growing awareness of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (the size of Texas), they tend to be distrustful of government and authority, and are quick to challenge greenwash and other marketing practices they deem to be unauthentic or untruthful. With their majority believing that humans cause climate change and the Millenials (aka Gen Y) are twice as likely to buy green products than those who believe climate change is occurring naturally.
 
Green is an integral part of this generation’s college experience. Legions of students now opt for newly created environmental studies courses (and majors) and are active in campus sustainability initiatives.
 
Reusable water bottles and coffee mugs are ubiquitous on college campuses where many savvy companies now reach out with sustainability messages to future householders with significant incomes. Not content to sacrifice all for the almighty dollar, Millennials seek to balance “quality of life” and the “quest for wealth”; they seek to work for socially conscious employers.
 
As the offspring of the Baby Boomers whose social and environmental values they share, Millennials are the likely new leaders of the modern-day green movement. With the ability to express their opinions through blogging, texting, and social networks, they are capable of mustering immediate responses from millions around the globe.
 
Generation Z: Green is a Natural Part of Their Lives
The first generation to be brought up entirely in an environmentally conscious world, green is part of their everyday life. This generation - currently under the age of 16 - think nothing of living in solar-powered homes with a hybrid car in the driveway. In school and at home the 3Rs of waste management, “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” are as common as the 3Rs of “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.”  Sorting paper and plastic for recycling is a normal part of “taking out the trash.”  As school kids, they likely viewed The Story of Stuff, a 20-minute animated video that divulges the environmental impact of our daily consumption. Environmentally sensitive cleaning aids, locally grown produce, and recycled-paper goods likely top their parents’ shopping lists; clothes made from organically grown cotton and biobased fibers are part of their own Gen Z uniform.
 

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Jacquelyn Ottman is the founder and principal of J. Ottman Consulting, Inc., an expert advisers on green marketing to consumer product marketers and U.S. government labeling programs. She is the author of four books on green marketing, including the recently released The New Rules of Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding (Berrett-Koehler, 2011).
Download a free chapter and get more information here. Excerpted from The New Rules of Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding (Berrett-Koehler 2011) by Jacquelyn A. Ottman. 

Sustainability Trends for 2012: energy, water and employee engagement

Friday, April 27, 2012 by

Energy EfficiencyA quick review of sustainability trends reported on the internet shows (not surprisingly) that energy will stay a high priority. The focus is on alternative energy, energy efficiency  and solar energy. Within the green building movement, retrofitting buildings for sustainability is gaining momentum.

This poses a huge market opportunity for businesses. However, it helps if (local) governments create the environment that is beneficial for investing in clean energy. For rapid introduction of new technologies a so called ‘innovation system’- the needs to be in place. Innovation systems are networks of organizations that work together on diffusing new technologies. They are facilitated through entrepreneurial activity, knowledge development through collaboration with educational institutions, and knowledge diffusion through networks such as accelerators and business platforms. Governments can play pivotal roles in facilitating innovation systems.

A more recent trend is concern over water issues. Many places in the world don’t have access to enough water to meet agricultural, urban and industrial water needs. Large areas deal with droughts, and disruptive weather patterns caused by climate change  aggravate these issues.

Though this is important for business, especially in the food industry, it is even more important to governments. Water supplies are directly related to energy and food needs. The repercussions of water shortages in combination with an exploding world population cannot be underestimated – and may lead to water wars. Meriting this issue to be dealt with from a diplomatic point of view. For example: it is for a good reason that China does not want to leave Tibet: the country is the source of all the rivers in the region.

Thirdly, employee engagement is finally on the corporate agenda. Which is great, because the social side of the triple bottom line often gets little attention.  I often wonder why we have so few very successful cases for sustainability. In my opinion, engagement is the missing link – you can’t just roll out policies, or change light bulbs. Sustainability becomes a part of the organization when employees are engaged in the subject. Luckily for us, there is a strong business case for engagement, and links to sustainability within a company

What To Buy Organic: The 8 Most Buzzed-About Organic Foods

Monday, April 2, 2012 by

What Should We Be Eating?

If you try to google for information on the food that's most important to buy and eat organic, it's a tad confusing. Every list seems to focus on a few different things, usually driven by nutrition and meal plan bias. So rather than dig through a lot of conflicting lists, I thought it would be interesting to see what organic foods consumers discuss the most.
organic food

I was amazed to see that these main food categories all have similar volume. As consumers, we're buzzing about a wide variety of organic foods. Interestingly, animal products are the big winners, even if by a small margin. There has been ample coverage, mostly in books and films, on the state of the meat and dairy industry in the US; perhaps there is slightly more consumer awareness that drives these conversations.

Per Capita Buzz

I thought it would also be interesting to look at volume of conversation per capita to see if there are any states that stand out in their conversation around, or awareness of, organic. 

The standout regions are the West Coast and Northern New England/New York State. Indiana, Wyoming, and Georgia were also standouts (though worth noting that Wyoming had a total of 94 mentions to Texas' 1,000+).

Noteworthy Themes

Apparently, as consumers we talk about chicken more than beef. And we're really interested in information that includes scientific backing, or at least mentions scientists. Also interesting that the UK's Organic Trade Board, tweeting under @whyiloveorganic, pops up.

While I don't have the answer to what exactly are the best products to buy organic, I will be interested to see how these trends change over time. Right now, the volume of conversation is lower than I expected, at just over 100,000 mentions in 6 months in everything from tweets to recipe blogs to Facebook conversation. I think we will see volume growth as consumers continue to get more education on the importance of organic, and brands like our client, Horizon Organic, have the kind of distribution that make organic increasingly accessible.

This article was originally published on Capture The Conversation.

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Room 214 is the Official Social Media Agency for LOHAS.  We help businesses like yours connect to the people who matter most, creating online social experiences that integrate business intelligence, social network & mobile technologies.  Founded in 2004, Room 214 serves organizations desiring to go deep with social media. From funded start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, we help you grow leads, sales, brand awareness, customer engagement and loyalty.

LOHAS Trends 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012 by

After reviewing the numerous trend articles out there and considering my own perspectives I have put together some that I think are relevant to LOHAS. Here are a few that I feel are relevant for the coming year:

1. Whiskey is for Drinking, Water Is for Fighting Over
droughtThe famous Mark Twain quote will become more prevalent in society as new realities of water scarcity will become better known to an ever growing global thirst.  Everyone will talk about it but few will do anything. Sadly, it may only start to take off if humanitarian crises hit close to home.  As we focus on our societal water use, it is an admission that climate change is our new reality and it is time to start managing the effects. The material risks associated with increased droughts and flooding will be among the most poignant effects of climate change. You may already be talking about this with the lack of snowfall around the country during the early part of this year.

2. Capitalism is Changing as We Know and it Should
Since the Industrial Age, businesses have built their wealth off of the extraction of natural resources. Unless businesses start to value and protect these resources, this cycle will have a devastating impact on the lives of our children and grandchildren.  Richard Branson echoes this sentiment and also believes it cannot survive in its current model. This can also cause potential ecoflation identified in 2008.  Many people have begun to realize that business as usual is no longer an option. What is an option is to reinvent capitalism and truly be a force for good in the world. Certification groups such as FairTrade and Benefit Corporation are working to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.  The changing economic scene provides unique opportunity for innovation and success in unconventional settings. The sky is the limit as new ways to do better business are taking root everyday.

3. Blurring the Differences Between “For-Profits” and “Non-Profits”
nonprofit forprofitThere has been a surge of entrepreneurs providing innovative business solutions with the purpose of “doing good”.   In these tumultuous times when unemployment is high, many are turning their backs on the job fairs and putting their efforts into creating new businesses that fill needs such as TaskRabbit, and Viatask.   Non-profits will incorporate more for-profit business models into their programs. There is a strong growth in social entrepreneurialism globally and this will increase with the emergence of new solutions for world issues. Groups like the Social Venture Network, Sansori and Unreasonable Institute will increase to provide resources for start ups. Social enterprises will encompass the very definition of business and 2012 will be an important year.

4. Gamificating Your life
Expect and increase in the game addiction methods to make a world a better place this next year. Game and point system rewards programs such as My Recycle Bank , My Energy and Greenopolis will see newcomers such as Ecobonus that rewards points to green and organic shoppers. More smart apps will provide LOHAS shoppers and energy efficiencies for homes and automobiles. 

5. Evidence Based Sustainability
Proof of sustainability will be emphasized more than ever as businesses will seek cost effective measure to reduce bills and be a good environmental citizen. Purchasing departments will be requiring vendors to document how they address sustainability issues within their own businesses will become more commonplace. As facilities and businesses increasingly operate in a more sustainable manner, they will turn to "dashboard" systems to help measure, manage and report progress.

6. We'll All Want to Plug in to Plug-in Hybrids
plugin hybridHybrids are not new but the latest improvements in technology will allow them to be more affordable to the average consumer. If electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are the trail-blazers, plug-in hybrids could be the game-changer the auto industry has been seeking. The prospect of a car that can travel distances of up to 40 miles using electric power before switching to a gas engine for longer journeys promises to overcome the biggest objection to electric cars - the fear the battery will run out mid-journey.  Design also looks exciting. We only need to look into BMW i8 roadster concept and visualize where this might take the car industry in near future. The high profile Vauxhall Ampera and Toyota Plug-in hybrid will create a lot of buzz this year and assuming the cars offer reasonable performance they could quickly become the default option for green-minded motorists and cost-conscious fleet operators

7. More Fun with Sharing Stuff
Sharing will not only be a part of social media but of reality. Considerations of downscaling due to financial, lifestyle reasons or social pressures will increase in sharing the excesses of the past decade as we become more conscious of what we have that we don’t use that others can borrow. Rent Stuff, Loanables and Rent Stuff Easy allow you to do exactly what they say.  A while back Sharable listed eight ways to share your stuff. That's about few of those thousands of ways of giving your stuff (or money) away for charity. Couchsurfing connects travelers with people who offer their homes as an economical place to stay. Rising oil costs will put pressure on transportation and the demand for shared and public transportation. Transportation share programs such as Zipcar, Bixi or Bcycle will increase. In four years the number of registered users have gone up from less than one million to more than four million. By carpooling, shared trips have gone up from less than three million to almost eight million.
 
8. Responsible Profitability Attracts Attention
Responsibility has been strongly associated with greater profitability, equity and asset returns, and shareholder value creation. But that’s no longer good enough. Today, the bar is being raised; success is itself changing. Companies are beginning to be judged against a whole new set of criteria by customers, governments, communities, employees, and investors. They’re already saying, so you made a profit. Yawn. Did you actually have an impact? Did what you do have a positive, lasting consequence that was meaningful in human terms? Several studies have provided evidence suggesting that betterness yields greater equity returns, asset returns, and profitability. This not only makes sense for those who are mission oriented but also for risk management.  One recent study found firms that score strongly in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR) find that their cost of equity capital financing is consistently lower than firms with weaker CSR track records. Responsibility fuels outperformance because it is risk management: better insurance against adverse future events.

9. Emphasis on Corporate Culture
Successful startup companies such as Method, Zappos and New Belgium Brewery are all preachers of their unique culture developed around their workplace. They preach not to chase the profits but to chase the dream. Engaging employees as a collective of ideas and not compartmentalization is a new form of corporate structure. It is not just about the fun office parties and surroundings but understanding the larger mission of the company and empowering employees. Creative agencies and culture builders have seen the need to train and educate companies on these emerging traits that are attractive for the young new work force.

10. Natural Disasters Will Continue
Expect your homeowners insurance rate to rise in 2012 as weather related damages cost $70 natural disastersbillion in U.S. economic losses in 2011.  All the indicators on climate risk are pointing the wrong way.  The financial and human cost of extreme weather and climate-related disasters is on an unmistakably upward trend. Meanwhile, our energy infrastructure remains as risky as ever with the Fukushima disaster following the BP oil spill in highlighting how fragile our energy supplies really are. It is a safe bet that 2012 will again be marred by a large-scale environmental tragedy of one form or another. Meanwhile, sensible businesses and policymakers will start taking climate adaptation more seriously.

References for these trends are:
Ecopreneurist.com
Taombo.com
Greenbiz.com
Huffington Post
PR Newswire

Are there any missing? Let me know what others trends you forsee for 2012 and LOHAS.

 

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

The Common Good Enterprise: A New Term for an Emerging Field

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 by

This editorial was originally published on CSRwire's Talkback blog.

non profit businessAs an investment advisor, I (Jim) am often asked to sit on nonprofit boards. I have grown uncomfortable with the term not-for-profit to describe these organizations, which often embrace business principles in their operations. For example, DC Greenworks generates income from government contracts and fees for green roof installations.

In 2002 I (Alicia) had difficulty finding graduate courses that blended business and social values. At a 2009 Net Impact conference, I was overwhelmed by the presence of over 2,000 MBA students interested in the common good.  When a conference attendee told me his girlfriend had complained of being assigned my father’s book When Corporations Rule the World, a tome on pitfalls of global corporations, yet again as part of her MBA program, I knew the world was changing.

A new sector is being born that blurs the lines between for-profit and not-for-profit worlds.  Business used to be about jobs and profit. Civil society organizations were the avenues to give back beyond job creation and products.  

Today an increasing number of businesses are building healthy communities, living wages and sustainable products into their corporate DNA. And more civil society organizations are embracing business values.

The Private Sector Has a Broader Mission

476 companies with $2.27 billion in annual revenue are certified now as B corporations, a designation given to businesses that meet environmental, governance and social criteria by the not-for-profit B Lab.

Certification has been followed by a tidal wave of state legislation giving such businesses legal jurisdiction.  Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey, California, Hawaii, New York and Virginia are front runners. In 2012 Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and DC will likely follow.

This legislation is significant. It supersedes a body of law legally interpreted to mean corporations must consider shareholder value before taking into account other stakeholders—including communities, employees and the planet.

Jim, who played a major role in passing two of these laws, co-founded a company that will become a B corporation called Blue Ridge Produce. The company aggregates locally grown food for sale to grocery stores and institutional buyers in the Washington DC area.  With the common good built into its corporate DNA, Blue Ridge Produce aims to maintain a healthy farming community in the region and will:

  • provide secure markets for local farmer
  • reduce the carbon footprint by keeping food closer to home
  • convert conventional growers to organic producers

 Business networking organizations like the Social Venture Network (SVN), B Lab, Social Enterprise Alliance, Investors’ Circle and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) are further helping the trend become a global movement.

While the Nonprofit Sector is Adopting Business Principles

Change is also happening within civil society organizations, motivated in part by technology entrepreneurs grounding their philanthropy in business values. The Skoll Foundation funded by eBay mogul Jeffrey Skoll provides grantees funding to develop engines of growth.  Called resource engines, some grantees are using funds to build business principles into their non-profit structures.

Created in 2009, the civil society organization Practice Greenhealth receives over half of its annual budget from membership dues paid by health providers like Kaiser Permanent in exchange for services aimed at greening their hospitals. Founder Gary Cohen built this resource engine after talking to entrepreneurs at the Skoll World Forum.

Language Is Powerful

Nothing captures an emerging trend like a name.

A name can in fact determine whether an idea or product popularizes or stays relegated to a small group of believers.  Just look at the dolphin fish. Only when restaurants began using its Hawaiian name Mahi-Mahi did this fish, which has no relation to the dolphin, begin to gain popularity in the United States.  After all, who wants to eat Flipper with an apricot glaze?  

Social enterprise, mission-driven business and for benefit corporations are a few of the descriptors for organizations blending business principles with common good aims.

We believe the movement can better communicate the power and purpose of this emerging field.

A New Operating System: The Common Good Enterprise

In our search for better lexicon, Jim came across a neglected phrase we would like to bring center stage: “the common good enterprise.” Here’s our definition:

A for-profit or not-for-profit organization whose primary purpose is to promote the well-being of people and/or the planet.  The organization generates at least a percentage of its revenue through the sale of goods and services (adapted from Kevin Lynch; Advertising on Higher Ground).

Why “common good enterprise”?

Its power is its clarity.

Common comes from the word “commons,” which describes a relationship to the community as a whole. Common good intuitively includes a regard for the planet, respect for individuals’ human rights, and support of communities.

The word “enterprise” is also self-explanatory—and speaks to revenue generated from the sale of goods and services.

 Common good enterprise is clearer than other terms such as its more popular sibling “social enterprise.”  Does “social enterprise” exclusively describe businesses? Or non-profits? Does “social” include the planet? Only leaps of the imagination can make the connection.

Conclusion

The labels we use for this new field matter.  Easy to grasp language provides a framework to help the public co-create this emerging sector.

Clear terms can translate into financial benefit. Why not pass legislation providing government procurement advantages to common good enterprises—whether companies or civil society organizations?  Could such language catalyze new capital pools?

It’s time to embrace “common good enterprise”—a term for organizations using business principles in support of the common good that will help mainstream the movement and make opportunities this field opens up a reality. 

Jim Epstein

Jim is the founder and Chairman of EFO Capital Management Inc., a family investment firm based in Washington D.C.  Jim is the developer of Belmont Bay, a mixed-use, pedestrian friendly community on the Occoquan River near Woodbridge, Virginia and is finalizing plans for a village development at the north end of Culpeper County, Virginia. Early in 2011 he founded Blue Ridge Produce, a local food aggregation operation that sources food from Virginia and the eastern seaboard for sale to grocery stores and wholesale and institution buyers in the Washington Metropolitan area.  Jim is a member of the Congress of New Urbanism and Social Venture Network.  His wide- ranging interests have led him to serve as Chairman of Dance Place and DC Greenworks, as a Board member at Trickles Foundation, and as an Emeritus member at Pathfinder International

Alicia Epstein Korten  Be Your Brand

"Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast" Peter Drucker

An award winning author, keynote speaker and culture consultant for ReNual, Alicia has led corporate culture transformation initiatives that have set offices on fire with new ideas, engaged employees, produced loyal, happy customers and increased profits.  Clients include Levis, Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Longfellow Sports Club, the Ford Foundation and the United Nations.  Her latest book Change Philanthropy is the winner of an Axiom Business Book Award gold medal.  She is a contributing author to Wake Me Up When the Data Is Over:  How Organizations Use Stories to Drive Results, an affiliate of the Social Ventures Network, a Fulbright Scholar and a graduate of Brown University. 3 facts about her: she motorcycled across Bali, lived on a garbage dump in the Philippines for a week and recently fulfilled her life long dream of swimming with dolphins.

Contact Alicia for a complimentary consultation: (703) 875 – 9139 or email her
Follow on Twitter: Search “Alicia Korten” or try @beyorbrand (may change as we are rebranding)
Renual YouTube Videos
Sign up for ReNual’s culture-zine at: www.renual.com

 

 

American Ingenuity

Friday, November 4, 2011 by

Contributed by Scott James

EPA designThis month I spoke with Matt Bogoshian in DC. He is the Senior Policy Counsel for the Environmental Protection Agency. One of the ways I reconcile being apolitical and staying as far away from DC as possible is because I know I have kindred spirits like Matt fighting the good fight there. He works quite a bit with businesses, so I asked him about CSR this month.

Scott: Tell me about a company that is doing something in CSR that would be a model for the future.

Matt: Staples and Wegmans are two recent examples who, in a partnership with us, worked collaboratively with the thermal paper manufacturers to explain that a key to their business model is supplying products that people want to buy because they are safe and healthy. The retailers convinced these suppliers that thermal paper with bisphenol A (BPA) does not meet their needs as it is associated with adverse effects in the environment and may be problematic for people. Thanks to these business leaders, the EPA is now examining 19 alternatives to BPA with the active engagement of the full supply chain.

Scott: So Staples and Wegmans have made a real commitment to that project.

Matt: Yes. I’d like to see a corporate model for the future that incorporates sustainability much more broadly and deeply than what some might consider CSR being capable of doing.  Model companies in the future will be ones that make more money than their competitors by producing products and services that directly or additionally address social and environmental needs.

Scott: Tell me about a specific CSR effort in another country you find inspiring, that could serve as a model for the US.

Matt: Our sustainability efforts with American manufacturers routinely afford us an opportunity to see the positive effects of corporate sustainability efforts both domestically and abroad. Take Steelcase Furniture in Grand Rapids, Michigan as an example. Under our Green Suppliers Network program – which is designed to improve manufacturing supply chains’ process efficiencies and environmental performance – we’ve seen their sustainability efforts result in $1MM+ annual savings for seven of their powder coating lines. Steelcase has now taken these lessons learned and is applying them to their operations in Germany, France, Mexico and China.

We also watch with interest the water conservation efforts of Coca Cola and other large corporations as they demonstrate sound corporate social responsibility for water conservation in India and other countries.

Scott: And how about the other way around? Is anyone internationally watching the US for CSR inspiration?

Matt: Yes, sometimes we learn from our friends abroad about efforts underway here in the US which inspire them, and give us extra energy to expand what we have already begun to do. Brazil, Chile and Singapore were excited to find out from us about one of our newer efforts called E3, which stands for Economy, Energy and the Environment. E3 draws together the resources of five U.S. federal agencies, the utility industry and local communities who then work together to help tune-up factories to reduce wasted time/motion/material/energy to help them become more profitable and sustainable at the same time.

Scott: Wow. That’s a lot of coordination! Tell me another example of what we are doing right here in the US.

Matt: Well, the EPA has a mark, a label called Design for the Environment (DfE). We evaluate products that have been designed or reformulated to contain safer chemicals and allows these products to display the label.

More than 500 companies with serious CSR leadership have reformulated more than 2,700 products to meet EPA’s stringent, science-based criteria so that their products can display the DfE label. They do this because they see a substantial return on their investment and the DfE label opens doors to new markets.

Scott: What new markets?

Matt: States and municipalities adopting green purchasing requirements, retailers who demand greener and safer products to enhance their sustainability profiles, and citizens who want products that are safer for their families and the environment. Companies large and small – from Colgate-Palmolive, Clorox, S.C. Johnson to Jelmar (CLR products), Phurity and Earth Friendly Products – are willing to invest heavily to earn the DfE label. DfE also fuels innovation among chemical manufacturers, such as BASF, Dow, and Akzo-Nobel, who have developed chemical ingredients to meet the stringent DfE criteria for use in DfE-labeled products. So in addition to gaining new market share, the DfE label helps companies meet independent sustainability measures like the Dow Jones Sustainability index.

Scott: OK, let’s talk about where we could improve. Could you illustrate one of our failures and what we can learn from it…where we are not succeeding as much as we could?

Matt: We have collectively failed to build genuine American consensus between citizens, businesses, governments, NGOs and others that ensures America will continue to be the leading economy and example for decades to come. The world is evolving from the agricultural, industrial and information ages toward the age of sustainability and we want to continue to lead in this new age. The good news is that useful lessons can be drawn from the many innovative sustainability efforts already underway by people and organizations throughout the nation.

Scott: In that vein, what question are we not asking ourselves that we should? And what would you imagine the results to be if we did ask ourselves that question?

Matt: We should be asking ourselves, “Is there a smarter, more sustainable way, to make and grow the things we need?” Sticking with the manufacturing sector as an example – with the possible exception of the electronics industry – many manufacturing processes have changed little over time. This may be due to unchanging manufacturing specifications, economic uncertainties or just plain human reluctance to change. Whatever the reason, these barriers are man-made and must be overcome.

If we answer that question with American ingenuity and innovation, we will see our manufacturing sector grow and lead our economy toward the kind of long term strength and prosperity we have come to enjoy for so many decades.

 

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

Top LOHAS-ish Fall Conferences for 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011 by

LOHAS crowdHere it is mid August and already I have to start working on my conference attending schedule for the fall of 2011. It seems like I have to do this earlier and earlier each year primarily because there are so many LOHAS oriented conferences being added or are catching my attention that I did not know of before. I have done a post on what events I think are important the past 2 years and here is my 3rd installment of top green/health and wellness/social enterprise/sustainability/leadership conferences worth considering as you plan your conference schedule for the fall.

For those new to the conference scene, there are two seasons – fall and spring. There are associations and organization that provide 1 or 2 events a year usually during those months. This is primarily because summer is a time when many set up personal vacation time and winter has more holiday time and weather issues.

Conference strategy
In determining which event is best for you take a look at the speakers and topics that will be presented. It is also important to look at the sponsors and how the event is presented via the event website. This will give you a feel on the type of companies that will be attending the event and what type of audience the event is trying to attract. By viewing the agenda content you can get an idea on how in depth they plan on going on topics. Also look at the networking opportunities that are in the program. Some events consciously embed them in the program via receptions, meals and outings and others do not. It is really up to you to make the best of the time for your own networking purposes.

On site
I find attending events to be incredibly stimulating. However I also find them to be extremely exhausting. Make sure you eat right, drink plenty of fluids, keep to a good sleep schedule and maintain a steady energy balance. For the large trade shows make sure you wear comfortable and supportive shoes for those hours on the exhibit floor. There are plenty of after party events to attend at which you can have some great business talks. It is up to you to make sure you know what formula works best for you. Set up meetings in advance if you can. That way you have some anchors to build the rest of the day's plan around and not get too lost in the shuffle of things - especially if they are large trade shows.


Leadership
Women in Green - August 30-31st Santa Monica CA
Focuses on women in leadership positions that promote green business. Although all the speakers are women you don’t need to be of the double X chromosome to attend. This is the second year of the event and according to people who attended last year it was about 200 people. This year there should be more.

Conscious Capitalism - OCT 12-14 Austin TX
You need an invite to attend this prestigious event that brings many CEO’s together to discuss conscious leadership within organizations. It is a relatively small event with around 200 attending. John Mackey of Whole Foods co-founded this and has people ranging from the CEO of the Container Store to Jean Houston speaking on how business can drive conscious change.

Green
Green Initiatives Conference Sept 29-30th Ft Lauderdale FL
A new event on my radar that has some interesting presenters and sponsors. The event team that is putting this on look like they have a tech background and may be one of the main focuses of the event. There are larger corporations participating such as DOW, HP and Coca Cola. It looks like they will focus on sustainability within larger companies and case studies from experiences.

SXSW Eco Oct 4-6 Austin, TX
SXSW music festival looks to sing a new green tune this year with the addition of a green event. Former LOHAS speakers who will be presenting include Simran Sethi and Philippe Cousteau. This is thier first year and the B2B event looks interesting. A great idea tagging it onto SXSW.

Opportunity Green Nov 9-10 Los Angeles, CA
OG is in its 3rd year and brings together green business and sustainable design in LA. They have about 800 attendees from all walks of life – corporate, entrepreneurs, media and of course Hollywood. They hold a great green design competition and it is a high energy event with interesting sessions and booths ranging from LED lighting for studios to BMW to water filters.

BSR - Nov 1-4 San Francisco, CA
The big one for the larger corporations that has been around a long time focusing on the corporate responsibility of multi-national corporations. Last year they had over 1000 in attendance. If you are looking to connect with the bigger companies on CSR initiatives this is the one to check out.


Funding and Finance
SOCAP Sept 7-9 Fort Mason, San Francisco CA
A vibrant event focusing on investing into social entrepreneurship. This event brings together large funds and banks with social entrepreneurs. Competitions on business plans are submitted ahead of time for a competition for funding and there is great education on raising capital for the startup and social enterprises.

SRI in the Rockies OCT 2-5 New Orleans, LA
A flagship event for social responsible investing(SRI) that brings SRI funds together with financial advisors. They also bring in a mix of speakers who focus on humanitarian, social and environmental impacts such as Jane Goodall, David Bornstein, Hunter Lovins and Bill McDonough. If you want insights on SRI and where it is headed this is THE event to attend.

Slow Money OCT 12-14 San Francisco, CA
Slow Money is a network of food activists, investors and entrepreneurs who nurture a range of conversations in order to actively develop funding and investment channels for local and sustainable food enterprises. Like Slow Food, they have local gatherings and a larger main event promoting a slow and steady investment into businesses who are seeking an alternative to the conventional Wall Street type investor.  Speakers include David Suzuki, David Orr and Vananda Shiva.

Investor's Circle OCT 26-27 Philadelphia, PA
A membership organization that  support a great entrepreneurs that are addressing social and environmental issues. They look at 10-15 high impact deals that are seeking investment.  They also provide a due diligence process that starts once the event is complete. It is about 200 people in attendance who are angel investors, fund managers, family office managers, foundation executives and trustees, wealth, financial and philanthropic advisers and their clients and other accredited investors.

Industry Specific
EcoTourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference Sept 19-21st Hilton Head SC
With over 30 inspiring sessions, 50 leading industry partners, and impactful and engaging keynote presentations, the ESTC 2011 (Hilton Head Island, SC, USA, September 19-21, 2011) sets the platform for ongoing dialogue promoting innovative ideas and practical solutions, driving change in global tourism.

Expo East Sept 22-24 Baltimore MD
Attended by as many as 25,000 industry professionals and featuring thousands of exhibits, Natural Products Expo East is the largest natural, organic, and healthy products trade show on the East Coast. With the newest and best-selling products and branded ingredients available this show features the best in organic at All Things Organic/Organic Products Expo-BioFach America, offers an extensive retailer training program and provides an advocacy platform through a strategic partnership with Natural Products Association East. Natural Products Expo East is ranked as one of the top 200 tradeshows in the US.

Greenbuild Oct 4-7 Toronto Canada
Greenbuild is the green building industry's can't miss event. It's where we go to learn about what's new in green building practices through the extensive educational sessions, see the latest technology and innovation in the exhibit hall, and perhaps more importantly, where we go to do business.  Greenbuild is a one-stop shop for credential maintenance. From pre- or post-show LEED workshops to sector-specific summits, from green building tours to concurrent educational sessions, you will find the education you need at Greenbuild. Most sessions at Greenbuild will be approved for continuing education credits for LEED and other professional credentials, allowing you to maintain your credential with ease.


Beauty/Wellness
Natural Beauty Summit Oct 6-7 NYC
This is a smaller and formal event for the natural and organic beauty industry that brings together the mission driven companies such as Dr. Bronners and Weleda with the larger corporations such as Este Lauder, L’Oreal and Avon. It is more of a lecture format and a lot of presentation intake. If you are a data hound you will get your fill. If you are a networker you will need to work for it but there are good connections to be made. The group is a bit insular if you are an outsider but if you are seeking to enter the luxury skincare market it may be worth considering.

Green Spa Network - Oct 9-12 Sundance, UT
This event is made up of a group of spa resorts and products that want to go the extra mile in promoting green efforts in the spa industry. The event has about 100 passionate people who want to move the spa world in the direction of holistic and sustainable integration. They are a very open and friendly group that welcomes newcomers (and new members). Plus the events are always at pristine green resorts.

ISPA - Nov 7-9 Las Vegas
If you are in the spa industry you have to go where everyone goes which is the International Spa Association Conference. Every other year they have their annual event in Las Vegas which brings investors, products and service providers, spa techs and directors together. This is THE most well groomed event I have ever experienced with exhibitors providing facials, teeth whitening and massages. There is good data provided on the spa world and great sessions specific to spa owners and employees. ISPA provides great data on the spa market as well. 

Social Venture Network Oct 27-30 Philadelphia, PA
SVN is a membership organization of successful social entrepreneurs ranging from Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, creators of Ben & Jerry’s, to Van Jones, former Green Czar to Obama, to Tom Szaky founder of Terracycle. It mixes sustainability with community building and innovation and a ton of passion. You can’t leave this event without 2-3 bonding hugs. It is a great place to seek mentorship, collect ideas and also potential funding from successful entrepreneurs and community leaders who are interested in helping others. This overlaps with the Investor’s Circle previously mentioned.

Net Impact Oct 27-29 Portland, OR
Net Impact is a large event that brings 2500 students and corporations together. They have chapters associated with Universities all over the country with a large membership and the event focuses on social enterprise, green business strategies, and nonprofit work.

Public Events
Yoga Journal Conference Sept 18-25 Estes Park, CO
For yoga die hards and trainers interested in the business of yoga or just to improve their own yoga practice. Famous yoga instructors such as Rodney Yee, Sean Corn and Shiva Rae have taught classes here. There is a vendor area as well.

Greenfestivals
Greenfests are the creations of Green America and a designed to celebrate green and diversity in various regions. Their flagship event in San Fran pulls in 30,000 attendees and they have some amazing keynote speakers such as Dr. Weil, Deepak Chopra, Amy Goodman, Jim Hightower and many more. Companies large and small mingle together with the public selling their products and services. I think these are great not only to see what is being sold but to see who is buying and the similarities and differences each region has as it relates to green. There is always a colorful audience at Greenfestivals.
New York  10/1-2
Los Angeles  10/29-30
San Francisco 11/12-13

Bioneers San Rafael, CA 10/14-16
Bioneers is where ecology meets activism meets celebration. I could spend hours in the parking lot just reading all the bumper stickers on people’s cars (mostly hybrids). If you are into fighting injustices of the underserved, hearing the wisdom of traditional cultures and the stories of animals and unique journeys of people this is an event for you. There are workshops on business, youth, art, peace and more.  It draws about 3-5,000 who are all there because of the larger mission Bioneers embodies. Networking is great but you will need to be selective on who you connect with since there are so many types of people there.

 

Of course these are just a few of the many events out there of interest to me. There are many others that are international that I did not include. If there are any other events you see I am missing please feel free to comment and add.

 

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

Trend to Watch: Consumers Paying Retailers to Go Green

Monday, August 8, 2011 by

carrotmobConsumers are turning the tables on marketers. Sure, social networking has given buyers a bigger voice. But I’m talking about a new phenomenon specific to the green marketing space.

It’s a cross between a flash mob and the good old carrot vs stick method to promote behavior change. It’s called Carrotmob and it’s literally sprouting up around the world.

The brainchild of Stanford grad Brent Schulkin, the first Carrotmob event was staged in 2008. Schulkin invited two dozen mom & pop convenience stores in San Francisco to compete for the added customers that Schulkin promised he could deliver in one day. To win the competition, the stores had to name a percentage of earnings they would commit to sustainable upgrades to their stores.  The winning retailer threw down a 22% bid. Hundreds of Carrotmobbers descended on the store spending over $9,000. The storeowners – true to their promise -- spent nearly $2,000 to greenify their store and, as an added benefit, they’ve been replacing their standard packaged goods with healthier alternatives to keep their new customers coming back.

So what’s the Big Idea here? Is it that groups of activists – from Canberra to Freiburg from Tunisia to Saskatoon -- are staging “buycotts?” Yes, but its longer term, more mainstream potential is so much more.

The big idea is that consumers, fueled by social media and inspired to use their buying clout in inventive ways, will call more shots. Not by protesting but by revolutionizing the idea of “market demand.” Think about it. At Red Kite, we certainly are. A focus for us is helping clients tap into the female consumer market. Knowing that women are more prolific shoppers, more environmentally active, more active on social media, and better at word-of-mouth, we think they will be the mainstream mobbers of the future.

Will you be ready?

Green Marketing Q&A with Seri McClendon, CLEAN Agency CEO

Thursday, July 28, 2011 by

The 2011 Green Brands Survey recently found that consumer interest in green products continues to increase and has expanded across categories – from personal care, food and household products to automotive, energy and technology goods. Companies across all sectors are rolling out new and or improved products touting eco-friendly attributes. With such a varied selection of products making green claims, how does one make an educated decision on the best products for their family and lifestyle? Seri McClendon, chief executive officer of CLEAN Agency, shares insight on this issue.

Seri McClendon

What are businesses doing to meet consumer demand for eco-friendly products and services?

Sustainability has become a key business issue for consumer product companies. They recognize that in order to remain competitive they must shift to meet the changing demands of consumers and of the environment. To do this, businesses are taking a critical look at their supply chains and determining how they can produce better products that have a reduced impact on the environment and can still deliver on their brand promise. Some of the ways this is being done include responsible raw material sourcing, more efficient manufacturing processes and reduced, reusable or recyclable packaging materials to cut waste to landfills. Companies are also beginning to highlight such innovations on their product packaging to promote their commitment to environmental stewardship and gain loyalty from like-minded consumers.

When shopping for green products, what should consumers know about “greenwashing” and how can they evaluate eco-friendly product claims?

Greenwashing has received a lot of attention lately as more and more businesses try to capitalize on the growing consumer interest in green products. Greenwashing refers to deceptive marketing used to promote a misleading statement or perception about a product, policy or service.  The first step in making smart purchase decisions is to educate yourself before heading to the store. GreenerChoices.org is an excellent resource for consumers that want to learn more about specific product claims and their meaning. The site provides independently researched, unbiased information on product safety, health and nutrition, updated label claims and other related topics.

Certification labels from reputable environmental organizations can also help consumers choose sustainable products. The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, provides Energy Star certification for energy efficient home appliances and the Design for the Environment label for high performance, cost effective and environmentally-friendly cleaning products. Responsible consumer product companies like Seventh Generation, Patagonia and Aveda also document and substantiate product claims on their web site.

How can consumers further drive sustainability efforts of their favorite brands?

Be vocal! Let the brands you patronize know how you feel about their products and their efforts towards becoming more sustainable. Share feedback on a company’s web site, comment on news stories written about sustainable innovations of your favorite brands and leverage the power of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to let companies know what you want from their products and services.

ABOUT SERI MCCLENDON

Seri McClendon is the CEO of CLEAN Agency. She is an industry veteran with more than 22 years of marketing experience. Seri formed CLEAN, an integrated agency serving the sustainable business sector, from her passion for environmental studies, policy and science. She holds a Masters degree in Geography with an emphasis in Industrial Ecology and a BA in marketing. Seri is a member of The USC Center for Sustainable Cities Advisory Board and was recently recognized as an Outstanding Woman in Environment and Energy Efficiency by the 2011 Women in Business Awards. 

Collaboration. It's The New Competition.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 by

The below article is brought to you as part of elephant journal’s ongoing coverage of LOHAS Forum. For our complete coverage, be sure to follow elephant on Twitter and Facebook.

I'm super excited to be here, in my home town of Boulder, Colorado, to attend the annual LOHAS conference. As much as I'm averse to the unsexy acronym -- LOHAS -- (couldn't we have come up with something that rolls off the tongue a bit better?), I'm proud to be representing elephantjournal's perspective on this year's LOHAS conference. Boulder is, after all, America's hub for the sustainability, natural products, and alternative health industries. It may be a republic. But it's the hippest, greenest, most innovative republic out there!

I've just left the press conference led by Ted Ning, the Conference Director, and was struck by his enthusiasm for what this conference represents. How is this conference different for all the others? We've all been to events over the years, where it seems same 'ole, same 'ole...talking heads, peeps patting themselves on the back for what a great job they're doing in their respective industries. But this one really does feel different. It seems to promote and offer a new way of working together; a new way of doing business together; a new way to learn from and teach one another...which, in my opinion, is THE wave of the future...collaboration.

The "Us vs. Them" paradigm is over. In fact, companies that continue on the path of cutthroat competition will be left in the dust. Triple bottom line economics is what will drive the future of sustainable business. Thanks to the annual LOHAS conference, conscious companies have an opportunity to network with scores of other, like-minded green businesses in pursuit of three bottom lines : financial, environmental, and social. Get ready world. We're here. And the world is a changin' as we speak.

Collaboration. It's the new competition.


Five Ways to Improve Your Marketing

Monday, June 13, 2011 by
If your marketing plan for 2011 looks like last year’s model, you may want to step back and take a bigger look at where your business needs to go in the coming years. We all get myopic especially when we haven’t seen a business climate or consumer marketplace like this – ever! Four game-changing trends followed by five plan-changing ideas:

 

Demographics Are Gross   Lumping people together according to their age, household income, or education level was fine in the heyday of mass marketing. But demographics aren’t a fine-enough filter in our multi-channel media-saturated world. It’s not enough to know, in the broadest of terms, who your target audience is. Now you need to know how they are and, most importantly, why they buy. And if you don’t know, you may be watching your competitors eat your market share for lunch.

 

Technology Converged    Personal computer plus Internet plus social networks plus mobile phones equals a convergence of technologies into one massive, uncontrolled, 24/7, global communications platform. At least two things happened: it empowered consumers to talk (or talk back) to brands. And it created new inter-connected means for brands and consumers to connect.  Five years ago, we didn’t have to consider how our big branding ad was going to play out as a streamed Internet video linking to a geo-targeted 2-fer coupon accessible via smart phone! The accelerating number of possibilities is enough to keep any savvy marketer awake nights.

 

Mad Men Meet Joe YouTube   You gotta love Don Draper. After a night of drinking, smoking and fooling around, he can show up for a major campaign presentation, pull a single concept out of his fedora, and have the client eating out of his hand. From the 60s to the 90s, big splashy ad campaigns reigned. Did they work? Sure, many did, especially when advertisers threw a ton of money behind them. Especially the funny ones. But then along came YouTube. Now any bloke with a slightly warped sense of humor, a flip camera and a log-in can generate as much buzz as a multi-million dollar Super Bowl ad. That can give marketers heartburn as they re-think how to allocate their budgets.

 

Consumers Rule   Marketing used to be easier. You created a product, you advertised, it you sold it. Back then, it didn’t matter much who bought it as long as enough bought it. It didn’t matter how it was made as long as it didn’t break before it got home. It didn’t matter if the means to the end were sustainable as long as the bottom line was. But in today’s world, consumers’ peer-to-peer influence on your top line is unprecedented.  What they don’t like, they don’t buy and they don’t hesitate to yelp their reasons why. And, by the way, most of those consumers controlling the cash are women. Well, three-quarters of it anyway, even when spending is down.

 

What Now?

The future is now and you can’t afford to wait. Visionary companies are searching for new ways to step up their marketing and engage new consumers using new technology. Here are five things you should consider.    

 

Consumer Centricity   Make your business revolve around the consumer not the other way around. Your product is not the centerpiece of your brand. Your customer using your product is.

 

Know Your Consumer Inside and Out   To build your marketing around your consumers, you need reliable, actionable intel. Research tools like Roberts Worldview Assessment, for example, provide psychological insights into various consumers’ values and behaviors and direction on how to engage them.

 

Total Consumer Engagement   Every consumer touch point becomes part of the brand. From the product itself to the ways the consumer can learn about it and interact with it to the retail or etail service experience.  Your internal and external support teams need to understand that entire experience and make sure every part of it delivers your brand effectively.

 

Brand Response    Before the Internet, tracking results was a bit sketchy. But with online analytics, the guessing is over. That’s why all advertising roads need to lead to the Internet. We call it Brand Response, the blend of brand ads to get attention, direct response to drive the action and online interactivity to make the sale. Great advertising and accountability ARE possible.

 

Change the House Rules   Look at your corporate culture. Are there any fresh marketing ideas being generated? If not, a more holistic process and a less silo’d organization can help. Sharing best practices to engage consumers should be a full team effort.