Healthy And Organic Living

5 tips to get the most out of your Expo West trade show experience

Monday, February 24, 2014 by

EXPO is a tremendous opportunity for manufacturers to introduce their new items and brands to retailers and consumers.  Retailers are always on the lookout for cool new items to drive sustainable sales.  Manufacturers wanting to make a lasting impact should be prepared to do more than the thousands of other brands on the shelf.

Think of EXPO as a large retail store.  Instead of only potential customers shopping for your product you're also trying to attract retailers.  Of all the items in your category, how do you stand out against the competition?  Having a solid EXPO strategy can help you make a lasting impression with retailers, potential customers, and even food bloggers. 

Know your purpose:

Your booth looks great, your sales team is energetic and motivated, and you have plenty of samples to pass out but what is your purpose for being at Expo?  Is it to sell cases or is it to address’s a specific unmet need?  A lot of brands get so caught up in selling that they lose sight of their original purpose.  To me this is what the natural channel is really about.  It's about authenticity, helping consumers, and making a lasting impact.  What selling story do you want retailers to communicate on your behalf?  Your presentation at Expo should clearly communicate and educate retailers. 

Know your competition:

Most manufacturers can list their competitors but how many manufacturers are experts on their competitor’s products?  Knowing your competition helps you sell against them and differentiate your brand.  Retailers are not looking for another “me too” brand.  They want a strong brand to take a leadership role in the category - a brand that appeals to their customers. 

Everyone in your booth needs to be prepared to answer any question about a competitive product.  They should use that as an opportunity to help differentiate your brand against the competition.  For example yes, our competition is gluten-free but did you know that we are also non-GMO certified?

Know your target consumer:

Retailers manage literally hundreds of different categories and thousands of items.  They cannot be experts in everything.  It is up to brands to educate retailers on the category and help them sell more of your products.  This could be the greatest differentiator between you and your competition.  Set yourself apart by helping retailers meet their shopper’s needs.

Be an expert in your category:

A lot of small companies know very little about the categories they compete in.  Being an expert in your category includes more than just listing each of your competitors. It also includes understanding how your category is meeting retailer’s objectives:

•  Is the category up or down?

•  Is there enough holding power in the categories for the top brands?

•  How does the category increase foot traffic for the retailer?

•  How important is the category to other departments in the store?

A good way to become an expert in the category is to be prepared with a complete category review for each of the key retailers you plan to connect with in addition to the regions you sell in. Retailers will be extremely impressed that you've made an effort to understand your category at their store.  This creates a unique opportunity for you to highlight your brand and will help them grow sales.

Have a follow-up strategy:

Have a strategy in place to capture contact information, important conversations, and organize notes for follow-up after the show.  I'm amazed by how many exhibitors run out of business cards and sales literature before the end of the show.  I'm equally amazed by the lack of follow-up on the part of some brands.  After spending all the money, time, and energy to exhibit at EXPO this is a huge missed opportunity.  At the very least, exhibitors should thank people for coming to their booth.  Not only is this courteous but you never know when a contact might be in a position to grow your brand.   

See you there!

 

Organic and CPG Industry Strategic Advisor Daniel Lohman CPSA is an expert in the organic and natural CPG industry. With more than 25+ years experience, he is certified at the highest level of category management proficiency: Certified Professional Strategic Advisor.

Responsible for growing sales and teaching Category Management theory and principals while at Kimberly-Clark and Unilever. His extensive knowledge and expertise extends beyond that of a traditional Category Manager and has earned him recognition and a reputation throughout the industry as a thought leader.

 

Dan is a Natural Products EXPO speaker, is internationally published, writes for LOHAS, New Hope 360, The Natural Food Merchandiser, Supermarket News, and World Alliance for Retail Excellence and Standards.  Dan is the author of Strategic Solutions and Guide to Grow Your Natural Business and the author of the What You Need To Know blog at CMS4CPG.COM.

How Inefficiency Hurts Your Business for Sustainability

Saturday, February 22, 2014 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Next Economy

Monday, February 10, 2014 by

Those who follow my blog might have noticed substantial inactivity. Yes, I stopped posting articles, mainly out of despair. So much to say, what first, and how? Even if I wrote every day, we would not cover all the complexities of the self-destructive system that humans have created out of greed.

As the speed of natural devastation picks up and the response to the natural rampage becomes short,  obsolete, and mostly non-systemic many, who strive to keep this precious Earth alive with all its beauties, become speechless. But as a famous quote whose author I do not recall states "there is no time to be a pessimist", we must now, more than ever, reflect on our actions and their consequences. We must now rethink our way forward.

If the way forward is based on understanding our need for biological sustainability, since without biological sustainability there is no other sustainability, I let you ponder on this way forward for the outbursting population of 7 billion. 

Video by Tompkins Conservation, The Next Economy

Words of a long time environmentalist and conservationist, Doug Tompkins who, together with his wife Kris and a large team of people dedicated to preserving our nature, have embarked on a challenging path. They have been able to succeed, so why can't we all?

 

Described as “a tireless advocate of an ecological lifestyle and an absolute defender of nature”, Hana takes any opportunity to engage in sustainable living as a sustainability strategist, citizen as well as a consumer. Her ambitions go beyond motivating others through Hana's green living blog. Professionally her aim is to look at today’s environmental issues in a holistic way, through a systemic lens and to strive for long-term improvements rather than short-term fixes. She established Earth Matters, a collaborative consultancy to help others advance on issues of sustainability. Tweet @earthmatters2me

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Fire Your Manager. Hire A Leader.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 by
If you want to create a truly modern company, managers can no longer act like 'managers.'  The manager defined the leaden archaic corporate hierarchy of the past. In that construct, there was little room for self-correction and ownership on the individual level. Rather than taking the driver's seat by delivering customer value or improving products, the old corporate model trained one to do a job as a single cog in the machine. 
 
The issue is that technology is creating bean-counters that micromanage jobs at arms'-length.  Taylor introduced ‘scientific management’ back in the late nineteenth century as a way of getting the American worker to do as they were told. It aimed for efficiency by standardizing and routinizing the techniques for completing each task involved with a given job. The effect resulted in deskilling workers and dehumanizing the workplace.
 
The twenty-first century has given rise to 'digital Taylorism.' This involves translating knowledge work into working knowledge through the extraction, codification and digitalization of knowledge into software that can be transmitted and manipulated by others. Digital Taylorism has increased the role and power of a manager by using technology to monitor workers and make sure they are employing tools and techniques at a satisfactory level.
 
With task management software tools to break down every given task into multiple increments, workers get limited to doing exactly as they are told and filling whatever quota of tasks at hand.  Already, 80% of the corporations in America have their employees under regular surveillance and apparently this number is growing.* These practices, which intend to increase efficiency and, at least theoretically, enable more self-accountability, often end up disempowering and over-systematizing jobs to the point where individuals are expected to work with a 'machine mind.'
 
Without allowing employees to understand and participate in the entire business operation, managers are then stuck with the assigning singular jobs and limited responsibilities to others. Over-systematizing jobs through these new technologies often lead to an extreme domination of managers over employees. Without allowing work accountability and self-adjustment, managers must fix the problems of each internal mistake themselves and likely only when seen at the customer or end-product level.  They enjoy having to correct and possibly reprimand employees, or even worse, serve as referee in an escalation point when problems and mistakes are tossed back and forth. Fun, right. My advise?  Fire you managers and rehire a leader.
 
Don’t allow for processes to over-ride common sense!
 
Managers assign tasks, correct employees, and serve as an escalation point for a problem. Leaders don't do this. Leaders improve participation and increase autonomy and accountability in everyone's work. This leads to people doing something not because they are told, but because they want to produce the best possible product or service.
 
Get rid of micromanagement and processes that stifle creative thinking and productivity.
 
Allow the ideas, goals, and accomplishments of the company to become the main focus... as they should be.  This construct leads to the bottom up approach of modern businesses. Rather than management sitting at the top of the corporate model, the client and customer product takes the main seat in the company. Here, what matters is that the work gets done--and done right so it's delivering value to your clients.
 
References
* Parenti, C. (2001). Big brother’s corporate cousin: high-tech workplace surveillance is the hallmark of a new digital Taylorism. The Nation, 273(5), 26-30.
 
Laura Pretsch is a business advisor, innovator, entrepreneur and lifestyle aficionado. Laura has dedicated her life to developing the tools and understanding to help others innovate and create better lives. Laura is the Co-Founder ‘The Brilliant Leadership Company’.
 
 
  
 

Getting the Top One Percent to Chip In

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 by

Greed. What is the purpose of collecting all the money you can if you can't take it with you when you pass away? I can understand wanting to live comfortably without having to stress over bills and debts. When you have so much money in the bank accounts that you could never realistically spend it in your lifetime, doesn't that make you a hoarder? It is said that the top 1-percent of the population now controls 39-percent of the world's wealth. All I can do is wonder, "Why?" Can't these people separate themselves from even a small portion of this money?

The "trickle-down effect" really didn't trickle down at all. Since most of these 1-percent have no interest in spending it, there is nothing to trickle down. Why not implement a few ideas to merely help those who have spent their money raising some of you 1-percent people to where you are? In fact, you might even make more money if you did. Investing in the future of humanity is probably the best investment you'll ever make.

1. Small Businesses - By investing $1.5 million in a small business and sticking the money into a savings account at 0.05-percent, the small business could pay its bills plus a single person making $25,000 per year while sustaining itself for 36.6 years. This is also considering that the small business doesn't make a single dime in revenue. If the small business makes money, then all the better. In fact, adding another person to the business making the same amount as the first would only decrease the business sustainability to 22.7 years. If the business manages to succeed and make money on it is own, then there is more money in your pocket as the investor.

2. Donations - Some don't like to give donations because they don't really know where the money is going and would rather not trust a stranger's word that it will get to those who are in need. If that's the case, then why not donate tangible goods? Aside from the fact that donations are tax-deductible, you can help others survive in order to keep your business running. No matter how you slice it up, it's the other 99-percent of the population that is keeping you rich. If they are unable to sustain themselves, they won't be able to sustain you.

3. Education - If you'd rather invest in something that will be beneficial to those who are in need, why not put it towards education? Although our school-system is sub-par in the United States, you could still put money towards teaching others how to sustain themselves. Grant it, there are many people in the world who are simply looking for a free ride and won't do anything to improve their situation. These people are a drain on society, but that isn't everyone that lives below the poverty line. Many of us are at this level through bad decisions and have been unable to climb out of the hole. Could you put your expertise and knowledge to help these people figure out a way to rise above that level? That is, without charging the $49.99 that you see on "get-rich-quick" websites?

It doesn't take a lot of money to change lives. When you control as much money as the 1-percent does, $25,000 can be nothing more than pocket change. Is it really that difficult to feed some of the money back into the populace? After all, most of these people are probably paying your way through life. It doesn't take much, just compassion for humanity.

Author Bio

Nancy Parker is a regular contributor to www.enannysource.com and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny background check tips etc. You can reach her @ nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com

LOHAS Asia Forum set to land in Hong Kong

Friday, January 10, 2014 by

With the success of the inaugural LOHAS Asia Forum in 2012, Hong Kong will be hosting this year’s conference on the 14th and 15th of February 2014 at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre, Wan Chai.

The’ two-day LOHAS Asia Forum will bring together world-class health and sustainability speakers, innovative discussions and unparalleled networking opportunities for both businesses and entrepreneurs within the growing sustainable consumer market in Asia.

“We are seeing a huge growth in the number of consumers across Asia who are demanding better products and better behaviour from companies,” said Cissy Bullock, CEO of LOHASIA and co-organiser of the event. “These people are actively seeking out brands that share similar values and the Forum will help provide insight for companies wanting to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The Growing LOHAS Movement …

The socially responsible consumer is on the rise in Asia, with more and more people seeking to incorporate LOHAS values (lifestyles of health and sustainability) into their daily lives. As the region continues to urbanise and develop at a rapid pace, consumers are demanding better from the brands they buy – better products, better practices, better materials – as they seek to find balance between a higher standard of living and a lesser level of impact on the planet.

The LOHAS Asia Forum 2014, to be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, will explore this increasingly important consumer demographic and provide insight into how LOHAS businesses can best position themselves to take advantage of this rapidly developing market opportunity.

Important Visionaries …

Featured speakers at the LOHAS Asia Forum this year include:

  • Paul Wouters, Regional Manager for Ecover, one of the world’s pioneering LOHAS brands, who will discuss how companies can expand whilst still retaining their core values.
  • Cissy Bullock, CEO of LOHASIA, helping socially responsible businesses grow and connect, will be discussing the LOHAS movement and where businesses will be heading in the near future.
  • Tara Hirebet, Asia Pacific Head for Trendwatching.com, a leading global trends, insight and innovation firm, will share her insights on the future direction of the responsible consumer movement.
  • Richard Brubaker, founder of Collective Responsibility, will explore how business models are evolving in response to sustainability.

Speakers from across the region will share how the LOHAS opportunity is developing in their market, and panels of successful LOHAS entrepreneurs will share their experiences and insights in operating within this dynamic sector.

Background …

LOHAS Asia is in direct partnership with the USA-based LOHAS.com, which has been successfully organising LOHAS Forums for the past 17 years. The LOHAS Asia Forum 2014 (Hong Kong) will coincide with the 3rd annual Hong Kong LOHAS Expo, the biggest LOHAS industry tradeshow in the region.

The LOHAS Asia Forum website contains more information about the event, including daily programmes, featured speakers, networking opportunities and an easy online registration process: www.lohasasiaforum.com 

Know What Chemicals Are Safe

Saturday, December 28, 2013 by

UNACCEPTABLE LEVELS examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of affable filmmaker Ed Brown, a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. To create this debut documentary, one man and his camera traveled extensively to find and interview top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law.  Weaving their testimonies into a compelling narrative, Brown presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us.

Over 80,000 chemicals flow through our system of commerce, and many are going straight into our bodies. Even our unborn children are affected. Due to this constant exposure, we have approximately 200 synthetic industrial chemicals interacting with our cells every single day. Until recently, modern science really didn’t understand what that could mean for all of us in the long run, but that is changing.

Globally, disease rates are on the rise. Theories about the causes abound, yet the issues are complex and often muddied by the maneuvering of political and corporate interests. To explore different facets of common chemical exposure, Unacceptable Levels, was made in consultation with experts in multiple fields and is guided by a father on a personal journey as he attempts to bring these issues to light for everyone. Its primary goal? To determine whether we can prevent disease before it strikes us.

Unacceptable Levels opens the door to conversations about the chemical burden our bodies carry so that we can make informed decisions now and in the future.  The film poses challenges to our companies, our government, and our society to do something about a nearly-unseen threat with the inspired knowledge that small changes can generate a massive impact.

If you're interested in hosting a screening, please contact Susan Cann.

"Unacceptable Levels" is a no-nonsense documentary that will challenge everything you think you know about health, safety, and environmental protection."  - Beth Buczynski, ecosalon

The True Santa Is Within Every One Of Us

Monday, December 23, 2013 by

With all the fuss over what color Santa is, we thought it was good to remind ourselves that Santa is neither black nor white, or pink or yellow for that matter, as he is way more than skin tone. Nor is the true Santa just a jolly guy in a red outfit; he is giving, sharing, caring and kindness, and these qualities are not limited to color. Rather, he’s a remarkable example of great wisdom and compassion that we can all learn from:

1.     He makes us do good and feel good. Now that's a big one, as many of us often act selfishly and greedily.

2.     He gives, endlessly, to everyone, all over the world, all at pretty much the same time. This indicates a truly generous heart, one that takes great joy in giving, without needing to receive.

3.     Yet he does not give blindly. Rather he judges what is the most appropriate gift for each. This shows great discernment, as giving needs wisdom in order to be of most benefit.

4.     He encourages rituals and invokes magic in every child's life: letter writing, stocking filling, decorations, parades, milk and cookies. Ritual is an essential part of honoring that which is greater than us, and magic is the beauty of the unknown.

5.     He listens to our pleas and requests and reads our letters. Meaning that he takes the time to hear us and pays attention, which we could all do a lot more of.

6.     He has great psychic powers: he flies in the sky with reindeer, descends chimneys without getting covered in soot, goes by many names and forms, and is extraordinarily elusive. Has anyone actually ever seen him? The lesson here is that we can all do more than we think we can: we can practice random acts of kindness quietly, simply, without bringing attention to ourselves.

7.     He knows where we live. In other words, he is inside every one of us.

8.     Most importantly, he lifts our spirits at the darkest time, bringing us laughter and joy, which is undoubtedly the greatest gift of all. No need to spread doom and gloom, no need to focus on what is wrong with ourselves or the world. By focusing on what is good we not only bring a lightness of spirit to others, but we also get to feel a lot better too.

Through giving to others, a la Santa, we get away from selfishness and neediness, and in the process see our own self-centeredness in greater perspective. It connects us to the basic goodness within, a quality of kindness that is easy to lose touch with. Giving—whether a smile, our time, a listening ear, food or material gifts—is profoundly joyful, both to the one who is receiving and the one who is giving. The essence of this is an open heart, a free mind, and a blissful spirit.

If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. Bob Hope

True generosity is giving without any thought of getting or receiving; it is unconditional, unattached, free to land wherever it will. Through giving and sharing in this way, we soon find that we do not lose anything; we do not have any less. Rather, we gain so much.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill

**********

Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Transforming the Financial System: Perspectives and Ideas

Monday, December 16, 2013 by

By Don Shaffer, RSF Social Finance

When you are looking for the new or emergent, you usually have to look off-the-grid. In many ways as RSF Social Finance has grown, we too have had to go off-the-grid to develop our unique approach to finance.

In 1984, a school burned down in New Hampshire. RSF organized a group of investors to rebuild it. Since then, we have made over $275 million in direct loans to social enterprises. Our track record has been excellent, with just 2 percent in cumulative loan losses over 29 years, and a 100 percent repayment rate to investors.

The key: bringing investors and borrowers closer together. We have found that if the individual investors who are providing capital and the social entrepreneurs who are borrowing capital can be more visible to each other – if they can understand each others’ needs and intentions, and sustain a personal connection whenever possible – then risk decreases and fulfillment increases.

Participants in a transaction become participants in a relationship. We believe this is nothing less than the antidote to modern finance, and can be applied on a substantial scale. It is the opposite of high frequency trading.

Specifically, four years ago RSF adopted a new approach to loan pricing for our $100 million flagship senior-debt fund. Each quarter, we convene representatives from our staff, our investors, and our borrowers to decide what annualized return rate investors will receive the following quarter, and what interest rate borrowers will pay – a radical form of transparency.

We call it community-based pricing. The response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive – and our interest rate, referred to as RSF Prime, has been very stable. We are now off-the-grid of the global financial interest rate system and no longer directly affected by the vagaries of Wall Street.

But of course the vast majority of all 401(k) programs, pension funds, and endowments are tethered to Wall Street, so it is naïve to believe we are fully off-the-grid.

This circumstance leads to questions many of us in the social finance field think about:

•  What is it going to take for the number of socially and environmentally-focused investors to grow substantially?

•  Can it happen fast enough for those of us who acknowledge the urgency of climate change and natural resource depletion?

•  Are there enough sound investment opportunities for investors who want to go off-the-grid?

•  How will we address the perennial issues of risk, return, and liquidity when there are so few established intermediaries in which to place funds?

•  What are the long-term implications for those of us who anticipate needing funds for retirement and who want to embrace off-the-grid investing?

A Generational Voice

I believe the very definition of wealth will change in my lifetime (I’m 44), where measures like GDP evolve to measures of well-being. These indicators will put spiritual, community, and ecological health at the center of the human experience and pull us toward an economy and supporting financial system that are direct, transparent, and personal, based on long-term relationships.

This article continues on Green Money Journal.

Stumped on gift ideas? How about sending a little Zen?

Monday, December 16, 2013 by

Holidays and birthdays are a time of gift giving to those special people in your life. 

When selecting your gift, consider sending a little Zen to that special person in your life with a Yuzen Box. Yuzen offers gift and quarterly subscription boxes of luxurious beauty, grooming, and lifestyle products from companies that have LOHAS values. Treat yourself or someone else!

Women’s Yuzen Gift Box (single box)

This stylish box is a perfect gift for anyone who needs some Zen pampering -- especially the “hard-to-buy-for” woman in your life. It contains a mix of nine full-sized and travel-sized products, a card with detailed information about each product, and discount codes. Click here to see what is inside!

Zen for Men Gift Box (single box)

If you are seeking something for that guy who is hard to shop for, look no further. Yuzen offers a smartly packaged men’s gift box filled with functional natural/organic products that are the perfect addition to any gym bag or suitcase. Click here to see what is inside!

Yuzen Seasonal Gift Subscription (1 box/season for a total of 4 boxes)

The lucky recipients of a gift subscriptions are sent a gorgeous Yuzen box four times over the next year. We send a little Zen every season - winter, spring, summer, and fall - 4 boxes in all. Just like our gift boxes, each season’s collection is carefully curated, beautifully packaged, and filled with luxurious products. Click here to see what is inside!

All box pricing includes free shipping. Gift a box or subscription! In today’s stressed out world who doesn’t need a little Zen in their lives?

 

View this video of the opening of the Yuzen 2013 holiday box:

Unique Investment Options: Parnassus Workplace and Asia Funds

Saturday, December 7, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parnassus Asia Fund

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

Continue reading this article on Green Money Journal.

TEDxCopenhagenSalon Green Natives

Saturday, December 7, 2013 by

 

Copenhagen is heralded as being a pioneer in green city planning, and the Capital of Denmark’s goal is to be the world’s first CO2 neutral capital by 2025. Danes are touted as the happiest people on planet earth (Denmark Is Considered The Happiest Country. You'll Never Guess Why, Huffington Post), so is it indeed possible to live climate conscious lives and be happy? I invite you to come and explore this with me...

 

TEDxCOPENHAGENSALON CLIMATE AND SUSTAINABILITY GREEN NATIVES

Date           Dec 9, 2013

Time           2-6pm CET ( Find your Time Zone )

Place          UN City, Copenhagen & livestream

 

LIVESTREAM IN ENGLISH   TedxCopenhagen invites all to get a sneak peek at what the Sustainability and Climate conversation might look like in a TEDxCopenhagen setting this coming Monday.

https://new.livestream.com/tedx/tedxcopenhagensalongreennatives

 

GREEN NATIVES

In the Seventies, they told us to turn off the tap when brushing our teeth, and we began to fear that acid rain would destroynature. In the Eighties we followed the voyages of the original Rainbow Warrior, and learned that spray cans were eating the ozone layer like Pac-Man on speed. In the Nineties we bought pieces of the shrinking Amazon while a metallic forest of windmills arose. And ever since, we have been exposed to corporate shills and quislings, COPs, melting icebergs, rising oceans, and a gathering storm that is casting its shadow ever longer and blacker upon our tomorrow.

We are all Green Natives – people born and raised in a world aware of climate changes and our planet’s limited resources. But will we act on what we know?

Some of us have already begun.

Photo: eperales. Used by permission

TEDxCopenhagen have found an exceptional group of acting Green Natives – starting in their own backyards, these visionaries are creating a better world for all of us, spreading their ideas from their local communities to the global community.

Today, Green Natives are revolutionizing the ways we produce energy and food, and the ways we use natural and urban spaces. We call them green not only because they work for a greener future, but also because they are beginners, pioneers, and pathfinders – they are those who dare to think and act as others have not before them. Each and all of them have strong visions of a better world and a greener future, and a passion to share them with all of us— their fellow Green Natives.

Follow and participate in the dialogue via hashtag #tedxcph on TEDxCopenhagen Conferize profile

 

 

Conscious Consumerism in the news: Evidence of momentum is piling up

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 by

 

I’ve been blogging about Conscious Consumers for over a year. At first, I had to do a little digging for content. I subscribed to newsletters, read other blogs, followed Conscious Consumer companies on Facebook. Within the month’s span between my posts, I’d usually stumble across something that was timely, relevant and would make a good post. If not, I had plenty of topics scribbled down that I could turn to for ideas.

No more. Topics are now falling into my lap and piling up in the form of starred emails in my inbox. Article links, tidbits, factoids and trend enewsletters causing me to fret about how I’m going to choose from all their juicy nuggets of Conscious Consumer information. The most exciting part? It’s evidence that this area of focus – Conscious Consumerism – is here. It’s real. It’s happening.

I’ve been saying this repeatedly. And with the LOHAS audience, I’m preaching to the choir. But or those who haven’t bought into the hype yet, or even those who haven’t been scanning the media to stay up on trends as much as they wish they had, perhaps this smattering of articles from diverse sources all published in November 2013 will help:

1. “Creating the Committed Consumer, Social Enterprise’s Next Big Mission,” published by Fast Company on November 25 highlights where Conscious Consumers will go next, which they call “committed consumers.” These consumers do not just make conscious decisions, but truly commit to changes and causes through economic pressure (a.k.a. putting your money where your mouth is).

One key quote: “…consumers must begin exerting greater economic pressure if we want to see meaningful change. The more they use their pocketbooks to support socially responsible brands, the more companies will respond.”

2. “’Buy One, Give One’ Spirit Imbues Online Store” in the New York Times on November 4 covers how a top-of-mind Conscious Consumer brand, Toms, has founded a socially responsible marketplace for holiday shopping. Toms is of course known for their “one for one”/buy-one-give-one business practice. Each of the 200 products from 30 companies available in the Toms Marketplace has been vetted by Toms as “[having] a mission of improving people’s lives baked into its business model.”

3. Trendwatching is an enewsletter I’ve been receiving for years. I was so excited when their November briefing featured their newest trend: Guilt-Free Consumption.

Guilt-Free Consumption is explained well by this phrase from the report: “…consumers are now hungry for a new kind of consumption, one that will allow them to continue to enjoy consumption, yet not worry (or at least worry less) about its negative impact.”

The report is full of valuable examples of companies who provide consumers with a guilt-free consumption experience. I highly encourage you to click through to the Clean Slate Brands briefing from last April while you’re reading, too.

There’s a lot here to chew on. It’s so thrilling to see the energy behind Conscious Consumption, and I look forward to even more momentum in 2014.

Molly Hull is Associate Director of Brand Development at Clarity Coverdale Fury in Minneapolis, MN. To follow the agency’s Insights into the Conscious Consumer blog, click here. To download the agency’s THINK report series on Conscious Consumers, covering findings from a 2013 study with Mintel, click here.

Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends for 2014

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by

With so much interest in wellness travel, I'm pleased to share the “Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends of 2014”. The forecast is based on year-long research and data collection in which I've consolidated trends across several industries to bring practical knowledge to both individuals and businesses.  

I'd like to encourage consumers and businesses to think of vacation in new ways. Our data shows that consumers view vacations as an important way to improve health, happiness and productivity.  Vacation trips are often a catalyst for transformation and consumers view wellness travel as a personal investment.  Vacations are no longer a luxury, they are a necessity for well-being.

Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends for 2014
Mind Matters: 
Consumers have caught on to mindful vacations that offer mental restoration.  Practices learned on a trip such as meditation, yoga, qi going and journaling can be incorporated at home to help manage stress, improve cognitive capacity and maintain emotional equilibrium. 

The Rise of Wellness Travel Agents
With the growing interest in trips to enhance mind, body and spirit, wellness tourism has created a new niche for travel agents to grow or expand their business while offering a personally and professionally rewarding career specialty. 

La Local Vita: 
Consumers have developed a deeper appreciation for locally relevant and authentic experiences with an emphasis on living  “la local vita” (the local life).  Mindsets have shifted away from tourist behavior to a keen interest in community-based exploration where getting to know the locals in a meaningful way sweetens the experience. 

Breaking Bread With Wellness 
Food tourism is a big trend intersecting with wellness travel. In addition to the physical aspect of sustenance; food tours, cooking classes, agriculture and farm-to-table experiences speak to the emotional, social, intellectual and sustainable aspects of well-being. 

Vacation RX: 
“Take 2 weeks and call me in the morning.” Physicians are now prescribing vacations as an antidote from stress.  Doctor’s orders for physical activity in parks are also being written to help combat obesity and diabetes in children. 

Looking for Personal Enrichment
With the understanding that wellness is more than fitness and nutrition, consumers are choosing trips that either focus solely on personal enrichment or as a part of their travel plans.  In search of fulfillment and meaning, many consumers are viewing vacations, weekend getaways and retreats viewed as a catalyst for change. 

Slow Travel: 
Have you ever felt pressured to run through your vacation checking off sites to see and things to do? Slow travel advocates changing the pace in order to sip, savor and revel in the vacation experience. 

Affluent & Altruistic:
Spurned by personal growth and discovery, affluent travelers value experiences connecting them to charitable causes and local communities. Volunteering on vacation has become increasingly popular and research shows altruism can improve well-being. 

Burgeoning Secondary Wellness Market: There is a large segment of travelers who may not opt for wellness retreats or tours but are committed to maintaining their healthy lifestyle on the road. Air transit and hotels are investing resources to attract these guests that are both business and leisure travelers.

Spas on a Mission:
The spa industry is staking a claim on wellness tourism and on wellness in general. Eager to shake the image of pampering for the affluent, spas are repacking and rebranding as wellness providers to attract a larger market.

To request a free download of the Infographic “Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends for 2014” or for more information on wellness travel, please visit www.wellnesstourismworldwide.com.  

Time Out for Peace is a Great Sentiment

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by

Can you imagine how advanced we would be as a species if everyone on the planet respected each other? Beliefs, life-styles, skin color, and more are always driving a wedge between neighbors to the point of conflicts. Countries are constantly in conflict because there is a lack of respect on a global scale. Resources are exhausted during these conflicts that could have been spent towards a remedy to the situation prior to violence. But that's not how we do things on this planet. Although a Time Out for Peace has potential, it has an uphill battle for a variety of reasons.

1. Personal Beliefs - The views of a single individual in power will always play a role in the outcome of politics. We see it every day when we turn on the news. The belief one person has doesn't conform to the masses. People will try very hard to force a specific life-style on others for they believe it's in the best interest of the whole. Whether it is from a political standpoint, religious zealots, or health concerns for the common man, there will always be underlying personal opinions that take over the reins of rational thought.

2. Inner Focus - Instead of worrying about what our neighbors are doing, why not focus effort on what we're doing? This isn't a stab at the United States government, but more of a judgment of most so-called super powers in general. Grant it, we don't want to be "nuked" by the other guy. But if everyone conformed to focusing inward for sociological improvement, there would be no need for worry anyway. In the U.S., people are freezing and starving in the streets while we invade countries on the other side of the globe under the pretense that we're "fighting for our freedoms." If freedom includes starving to death on the streets, then the mission has been accomplished. North Korea regularly threatens war on South Korea while the people of this country are turning to cannibalism in order to survive.

3. Corruption of Power - As the saying goes, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Although we should focus more on the internal workings of our own respective countries, there should be a line as to how one attains power in others. Should we sit back and allow countrymen of other areas to eat each other in order to stave off starvation? If a leader is determined to ignore advice from others while mistreating his or her subjects, should we stand back and allow the carnage to continue? Although these questions seem more towards pro-war, it gives you something to think about. Are we humane to allow the citizens of another country to suffer if we can prevent it? If the leader is unwilling to improve the situation within his or her borders, then what else do we do other than let those people suffer? All leaders should be conscientious of those within the borders and do what needs to be done to create a livable situation. Ruling through terror and fear is not earning respect and admiration.

Instead of focusing on the negatives, we should be praising the positives. There is so much hate in the world, it may be next to impossible to benefit from the fruits of peace. All we can really do is change the things we have control over. If we set a positive example, others could follow which could eventually lead to an understanding. Understanding a culture goes a long way to understanding the people. And understanding each other could help us realize that we are humans on this planet and can benefit from the wisdom of each other.

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Reed is a freelance writer and a resident blogger at Liveinnanny.org. She particularly enjoys writing about parenting, childcare, health and wellness. In addition, she is an expert consultant on issues related to household management and kids.

The Spa Industry Looks Well and Good

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 by

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

Going deeper

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

Evidence and Earth Based

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

Bathing popularity

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

Oil overflowing

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

Wellness Tourism on the Rise

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

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

 

Six Reasons Why I Love the Green Festival

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope to see you at the San Francisco Green Festival!

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Ultimate in Conscious Media

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 by

GaiamTV

If you consider yourself a  conscious consumer or LOHAS individual you probably seek alternative forms of information, insights that foster betterment of well-being and education instead of FOX, CNN and the E! Channel. I continually find myself seeking other ways to get inspired and informed but have to sift through a lot of garbage to do this. However my problems have been solved with my new found source – GaiamTV. You may have seen my previous post on The Growth of Online Yoga and Fitness that gives a list of fitness focuses streaming media. However GaiamTV not only covers yoga but much more.

I like to consider GaiamTV the Conscious Netflix of today. It is a streaming video subscription service that offers access to the world’s largest collection of transformational media. It is a fantastic resource for those those seeking knowledge, awareness and personal transformation.

I truly feel that we are standing on the precipice of a new, transformative era and believe that everyone holds the potential for true transformation and higher awareness.  Equally important is the need to have access to creative alternative forms of media that foster awareness and growth.

As a subscriber you get unlimited access to the entire GaiamTV library, including inspiring documentaries, cutting-edge interviews, energizing yoga classes, and much more. This can be overwhelming at first glance but GaiamTV is curated into five categories:

Active & Well:  Explore yoga, fitness and natural health videos to help you look and feel your best.

Spiritual Growth: Learn valuable life lessons and gain personal insight from top spiritual leaders.

Seeking Truth: A new frontier of reality with exclusive programming that explores cutting-edge information and ideas.

Nature & Culture: Venture to the far corners of the earth through exciting travel videos, get a first-hand look at cultural narratives from around the world, and discover the latest in green technology.

Original Programs: Exclusive interviews on provocative topics and original shows with visionary hosts that encourage people to see the world through new eyes.

By providing curated content on a variety of groundbreaking subjects, Gaiam TV is paving the road through the wilderness of today’s mainstream media outlets.

I highly recommend trying the 10 day free trial. If you like it the fee is only $9.95 per month and it is available via computer, mobile device, Roku, Apple TV, Blu-ray player and many others. You can also get a free month for every friend you sign up. It is a great way to develop or round out your personal wellness and development program.

Check it out and see what you think!