Healthy Living Tips

Water, Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink....

Saturday, July 12, 2014 by

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Californians hope to avoid a desolate future with the development of desalination systems across the state. Photo by Bruce Rolff.

SANTA BARBARA, CA -- And so goes the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, the iconic tome by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Of course, it refers to a seaman who is adrift with no supplies. How fitting, then, that we apply this life lesson to the current situation in Santa Barbara, if not the entire Southwestern U.S.

The media has finally awakened to what many of us have been banging the drum about for months - to borrow from the 1972 Albert Hammond pop tune, "It Never Rains In Southern California." In essence, this has caused a drought we have not seen in decades, as detailed in my previous articles, Red, White, and Waterless andSqueezing Water From a Rock. So let's look at Santa Barbara as a microcosm of what could happen in many cities throughout the country if we don't do something about it, and quickly.

From a variety of research and interviews I conducted with experts on weather patterns and climate trends, one central theme emerges: we as a society need to prepare now for the possibility that this drought will continue indefinitely. While not probable, at least we hope not, it is most definitely a possibility. Life must go on, and to sustain it we need clean water for everyone. Regardless of whether it rains.

"I have been here since 1964, and the climate today is very different than it was in those days," explained Tom Mosby, General Manager of the Montecito Water District. "The succession used to be two weeks of fog, then four or five days of warm, sunny conditions. Now, it seems that the inverse is true. No rain is a huge problem for us." Montecito is the tiny, toney town that lies adjacent to Santa Barbara, populated mostly by wealthy retirees and those escaping L.A. in search of solitude and open space. Oprah's famous $50 million estate lies within the Montecito city limits. "Our water conservation plan now includes water rationing which has been very successful. We believe the majority of our customers are checking their water meters daily to track allocation," Mosby said.

Montecito has very limited groundwater, equivalent to less than 7% of its annual water supply which has compounded its water shortage problem. The District's reliance on surface water reservoirs, coupled with below average rainfall led to the declaration of a water shortage emergency on February 11. If it doesn't rain during fall/winter 2014-15, a stage 4 (they are currently in stage 3) state of emergency could be declared which would mean little to no water for outdoor landscaping.

The Santa Barbara area has been a leader in water conservation, as its residents have been very responsible about decreasing water consumption in recent years. So much so, in fact, that in an ironic twist, the local water districts may have to raise their rates again -- this time by 100 percent -- because revenues are down dramatically. A vicious cycle? Perhaps yes, and one that could be repeated in any geographic area that is short on water but successful in persuading homeowners to cut usage. Thus, we face yet another quandary in going green which only frustrates the consumer trying to do the right thing.

The City of Santa Barbara did have the foresight to plan, design and break ground on a desalination plant back in 1991. Fortunately or unfortunately, plans to complete the plant were scrapped as the 1986-91 drought came to a dramatic end. Just recently, the City Council initiated reactivation proceedings to get the plant construction going once again. This will cost just under $30 million, and will provide enough clean water for about half of the Santa Barbara Water District's customers.

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The Carlsbad Desalination Project, seen here, is set to deliver clean drinking water to 300,000 San Diego county residents by 2016.

While the City of Santa Barbara wants to cooperate with Montecito to allow its residents to purchase water produced by the plant, a complicated situation related to approval and permitting process due to the infamous Coastal Commission may well prevent this. "We have to get desal now," declared Darlene Bierig, President of the Montecito Water Board. Recycling wastewater is also an option but realistically, this is more suited for agricultural, landscape, golf course and cemetery water than for drinking. The conventional wisdom seems to be moving toward desal and rapidly. This, in my opinion, is one of the better arrows in our quiver if we no longer enjoy the benefits of consistent, bountiful rainfall.

With the challenges Santa Barbara's original desalination plant faces, setting up a small-scale desalination plant is an alternative possibility in Montecito. I consulted an Israeli expert in water management, Clive Lipchin, to see if it is possible to enable Montecito to provide water for its citizens in a stand alone, self-sufficient manner. As with all new desal development, Lipchin notes, "There are infrastructure questions such as the state of the water grid and the possibility of easily inserting the desalination plant into the grid. Other issues include the best site for such a plant and its proximity to the coast, the location of the brine outfall, the current cost of water and electricity, and environmental regulations." Considering the factors, Lipchin suggests a small-scale desalination plant could be built faster and cheaper than waiting for City of Santa Barbara. "There are options to build a desal plant in a modular configuration with construction costs ranging from $5-10 million. Israel has done this successfully for small communities in Cyprus and Malta."

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The Carlsbad, CA desalination plant will closely resemble Ashkelon, Israel's 3rd generation desalination plant, seen here.

"Water banking" is another idea that Santa Barbara has cooked up to deal with the current shortages, according to Santa Barbara Acting Water Resources Manager, Joshua Haggmark. "Water banking is the practice of foregoing water deliveries during certain periods, and banking either the right to use the unused water in the future, or saving it for someone else to use in exchange for a fee or delivery in-kind," explains Jasper Womach, Agricultural Policy Specialist for the Congressional Research Service. "It is best used where there is significant storage capacity to facilitate such transfers of water."

In my view, that could be helpful but will not solve the water shortage. A massive, ongoing source of clean water to replace Mother Nature's downpours is desperately needed. Just last month, the L.A. Times and USC's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences conducted a poll of 1,500 registered voters. Results showed that 89 percent of respondents agree that the drought is a major problem or even a crisis. An encouraging 75 percent believe the state should invest in desalination of ocean water for household use. This support was consistent across demographic groups, with 48 percent strongly in favor and 26 percent somewhat in favor.

Let's head about 200 miles south, to the beach town of Carlsbad which is located in North County San Diego. As we speak, SoCal's only large desal plant is being constructed. The plant will create enough fresh water to serve 300,000 area residents. "We are developers and owners of the project," said Peter MacLaggan, Senior VP of Poseidon Water, the contractor who is building the plant which is projected to come online in 2016. "The project has been in development for 12 years, as the approval process began in 2003 and ended in 2009. Six long years. After the permits, we worked with the San Diego County Water Authority to get the contracts in place, and then we raised $734 million through a bond issue, along with $167 million in private equity," explained MacLaggan. This is probably typical of what a large desal plant would require -- about a billion dollars, and about 10 years if not longer.

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The Carlsbad desalination plant will be able to produce 1 gallon of freshwater for every 2 gallons of seawater it intakes.

Key environmental issues associated with desal plants are first and foremost, the intake portion of the process and its effect upon larval fish eggs, and secondly, expulsion of the brine or salt back into the ocean. While larger fish will be able to swim away from the intake ducts, microscopic fish and plankton that are vital to the underwater food chain can be damaged by the desal process. In addition, a tremendous amount of power is required to run the plant, thus use of fossil fuels vs. renewable energy is a critical discussion. Oceana's California Campaign Director, Dr. Geoff Shester, stresses, "Turning seawater into drinking water requires massive amounts of energy and poses risks to an already stressed ocean ecosystem, as the salty brine byproducts fundamentally disrupt the ocean's delicate chemical balance. Relying on desalination as an alternative water source fails to solve the underlying problem that California's inefficient use of water is outstripping our water supply, while creating a wide suite of new risks to our ocean which we don't yet fully comprehend."

Desal plants cannot be built offshore because the efficiency of production becomes significantly lower. Another issue is this: land, extremely valuable coastal land at that, will be needed to build more desal plants. Thus years of lawsuits and ultimately, use of eminent domain by the state may be required to secure key sites for a network of desal plants that can produce enough water to support highly populated Southern California. "The next desalination project will be easier because decisions and precedents are already set," added MacLaggan. Hopefully he is right about this.

As you can probably tell, I am a huge proponent of desalination as part of the answer to our water problems. As I sit here in my hotel room in Tel Aviv, I quaff a tasty glass of desal water. Not to mention, I washed my hair this morning and noticed the sheen and texture is actually better than washing my hair with Nevada or SoCal water. While admittedly there are environmental issues to deal with, this reminds me of the debate about wind power generated by turbines located in the desert. Some of our leading environmental watchdog NGOs are constantly banging the drum about the need for renewable energy, but then they question wind farms because they are visually unattractive and might affect the mating patterns of the snail darter. Similarly, ocean preservation advocates need to get real about the need for desal plants as a partial fix for inadequate rainfall. Fortunately, we're quickly witnessing an advancement of technology to minimize environmental impacts, as showcased in Damian Palin's TED Talk, Mining Minerals From Seawater. Palin proposes an innovative solution using bacteria to extract heavy metals from the toxic brine, thus minimizing pollutants that reenter the seawater and creating what Palin describes as "a new mining industry that is in harmony with nature."

Given the lead time required to plan, approve, design and build these plants, we are already way behind and crisis may occur before enough of them come on stream - not only in Southern California but anywhere with a coastline that is short of fresh water. Let's take a cue from Israel, which has developed a network of desal plants that produce enough water to keep the admittedly tiny desert nation supplied indefinitely with zero rainfall. It is time right now to move past the conversation, debates and wishful thinking. Oceans make up 71 percent of the earth's surface, so we know there IS enough salt water to meet our desal needs. We need to be building desal plants yesterday, throughout the world, to ensure fresh drinking water for all. Please help the cause by explaining this to your family, friends, legislators, and the media.

As always, thanks for reading and considering My Inner Green viewpoint.

Follow Jennifer Schwab on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SCGreen_Home

ASK BIG, SCARY, WORLD-CHANGING QUESTIONS

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 by

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


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

One word your brand must own: Sustainability


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


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


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


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


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


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

The article was first published on Fast Company.

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

 

 

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:

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!

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!

Growth from Culture: Patagonia's Innovation

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 by

In 2011, on one of America’s most profitable shopping days — Patagonia made an extraordinary move.

This outdoor clothing and gear company partnered with eBay on a new initiative. They kicked it off with a full-page ad in The New York Times showing their best-selling jacket with a banner that read:  Don’t Buy This Jacket.

Yes, you read that correctly: they wanted people to buy less stuff. Although this seems counterintuitive to corporate leaders charged with top line growth, they demonstrated an Innovation Management practice called “Systemic Authenticity.”

This term comes from The World Database of Innovation, an initiative that sprung out of a project with The Mayo Clinic in 2007. It is the world’s first broad look for statistics underlying Innovation Management practices.  The initiative looked at several thousand companies that have repeatedly transformed the world, grown the fastest, and shaped markets.  And in doing so it found that these high performers share 27 practices in common – what could be considered a menu or equation for innovation management.

A study by Dr. Rajendra S. Sisodia, states that "mission-led" businesses outperform the market by an astounding 9:1 ratio.  Even if it is only half right, we believe this fits the definition of innovation as "future top line growth" and/or changing human behavior on a wide scale.  Our own research has now shown three important aspects to this mission-led phenomena or Systemic Authenticity.  And we believe Patagonia’s newest innovation is one of the best examples of this practice.

A few months before its launch, Patagonia's R&D leader Randy Harward presented the Don’t Buy This Jacket campaign (part of the Common Threads Initiative) to a gathering of corporate innovation leaders at 3M. He was met with wide eyes, and strong commentary on how it ran against the basic concept of commercial self-interest. But Patagonia moved ahead anyway because they knew — almost like it was endemic — that this was who they are and one of the best expressions of their mission.

Later, some months after the launch, while at Google’s offices, Randy presented the idea again but met with significantly less resistance from the group of 25 CTOs at the table. Why? Because numbers talk: Patagonia had won more customers and believed that at the same time they reduced overall human consumption.

You might be thinking, “Okay, this was just a savvy PR move.” You might also ask, “How can they claim a success when more of their product was consumed?”

Since Patagonia’s goods last longer, one of their jackets will last as long as three average products meaning people consume less.  Also, their customers were actually opting to buy used items from their partner eBay. Add to this that their materials are far more sustainably produced than average meaning there is a net positive effect when their product is chosen over any average good.

So how does a radical, counterintuitive business model like this make it through any for profit company?  We know that Patagonia takes their mission so seriously that they have often voluntarily lost money on projects, and made immense investments for a small company such as helping to create the organic cotton supply chain, and building one of the most robust Cradle to Grave analyses in the world.

But, these sentiments are backed up by both a culture and systemic efforts aimed at achieving specific goals.

The campaign shows that their mission is incredibly genuine.  It is essential that a company's mission is genuine and we have found this to be the first important aspect of Systemic Authenticity.

Next, we saw that a company's mission cannot just be a consultant's word's sitting on the wall, but must also penetration through all staff, leadership, and beyond.  This is the second aspect.  On Patagonia’s campus you can feel it deeply — staff rattle off their mission in a short, casual breath “Yeah, sure, of course we’re here to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire…”  But it goes deeper. From the executive team to the warehouse staff, employees actually live the life of their core customers: the “Dirt Bag” as they fondly call them. They will tell you that if they didn’t live the lifestyle, they could not ever design for their core customer. And if they didn’t design for their core customer's extreme needs, they would not be making the stuff that the rest of the world also now wants.  You can even see that their customer is conscious of their mission – this is the deepest level of penetration and an admirable goal for all companies.

The third and final piece of this puzzle: in order to make a mission work for the company, we found real the company must know what it means in the real world.  The company must have a deep sense of what it is and is not, and specifically what it’s Core Competencies are.  For instance in this case, Patagonia knew it had the audience and strategy, and that the new business model would help them take the next step in expressing their mission.  But they also knew that they did not possess the Core Competency of crowd-souring used items and getting them into buyers hands, so they very smartly like there was not even a second thought called on eBay. The well-known article on Core Competencies by Prahalad and Hamel (1991) defined Core Competency and lays out the rigorous process of identifying yours.  

Together these three aspects make up Systemic Authenticity.  But why does it actually work?

While it is impossible to gather data on why, we believe from working with Patagonia and many others that there is a clear theme: know thyself. Yes, this is where spirituality and hard-core business cross paths.

We’ve all experienced the results that occur when we learn something new about ourselves and then make a meaningful move in this direction. Well, we have found that the same is true for a company. If your mission is real, and is felt and known by all of your team, then everyone knows which direction to go, which market opportunities are and are not for the company, and how to tackle these opportunities.  It in essence lessens the need for management, reduces the bottleneck that often exists at the leadership level and allows the company to more quickly innovate, grow the top-line, and to scale more with fewer failures and more quickly.

Leaders, think of how fast your company could move if you didn’t have to be in on every decision but still knew it was naturally heading in the right direction.

Don’t Buy This Jacket campaign is one of the best examples of Systemic Authenticity.  And its success in the marketplace makes it a true innovation. Patagonia believes that this and many other practices are what have led to their incredible top line growth, increased margins, and market share that any executive would be ecstatic to write home about.

And we have seen that any organization — corporate, government, or social — that seeks to grow or change human behavior can create their own Systemic Authenticity by adapting the three aspects described here.  With some basic work, and time spent on articulating and spreading the word on the company’s mission and identity, any company can implement this Innovation Management practice, and grow while doing something that just happens to be great for the world.

 

Want more?  This piece from The World Database of Innovation initiative was adapted for LOHAS from the original in Harvard Business Review, 2011.  This is one of 27 common practices the initiative found to be shared by the world’s innovation leaders.  We are publishing on each of these practices here and elsewhere.  Read more at HBR.org, and InnovationManagement.se

24 Blogs with the Best Strategies for Connecting with Your Kids

Friday, September 13, 2013 by

When you’re juggling work, home, your spouse and the busy schedules of multiple kids, finding a few minutes for yourself, never mind with each child, can be a real challenge. But connecting with your kids is integral to building a strong relationship with them, and it doesn’t take much to experience a moment of meaningful connection.  If you’re looking for ways to incorporate more connection time in your day, check out these blog posts.

Quiet Time

Sit and look through a photo album with your child and tell her stories about your childhood or about when she was born. These quiet moments allow your kids to ask you questions and to talk about what is going on in their life. They also give you a chance to connect over shared childhood memories, and let your child see what your life was like growing up. Read more about quiet moments and how they can help you connect with your child in these six blog articles.

Through Play

Play time is one of the best ways to connect with your kids and make memories together. After dark one night grab some flashlights and glow sticks and run around your yard with the kids playing tag. Create time in your week that you can play with the kids and laugh together. With a to-do list as long as your arm you may be thinking that you don’t have time to play, but these times with your kids lay the foundation to make memories that last a lifetime.  Check out these six blog posts showing you how you can connect with your child through play.

Reading Together

Reading together, whether it’s during the day or before bed, gives you and your children a chance to slow down and relax together. It’s also an excellent way to help your children become good readers and to foster a love of reading in them. Once you finish a story, ask your kids questions about what you read and let them add to the story.  Kids have amazing imaginations, and this time with you will allow them to share it with you.  For more ways to connect with your kids through reading, take a look at these six blog entries.

Unplug

It’s far easier to turn on the TV, pop in a movie or let your kids retreat to a video game than it is to actually unplug and spend time together, but defaulting to these methods doesn’t help grow your relationship.  Next time you sit down to dinner, ask everyone to put away their electronics and talk.  These six blog articles will give you more ideas for how to unplug and connect with your kids.

Source : http://www.parttimenanny.org/blog/24-blogs-with-the-best-strategies-for-connecting-with-your-kids/

Happy Birthday to Julia Child

Thursday, August 15, 2013 by

Today we celebrate Julia Child’s birthday!

Julia Carolyn Child was born on August 15, in 1912. She was an American chef who was made famous as she made French cooking do-able with her most famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her television programs, the most notable of which was The French Chef, which premiered in 1963.

Julia often says her first taste of amazing gastronomy was in Rouen and has been noted to say the simple meal of oysters, sole meunière, and fine wine to be "an opening up of the soul and spirit for me." Clearly her time in France was well inspired, as she was a student at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school (and later studied privately with Max Bugnard). As the wife of a foreign military man, she kept her engagement in her new society up with her love of French cooking and joined the women's cooking club, Cercle des Gourmettes, where she met Simone Beck (who was writing a French cookbook for Americans with her friend Louisette Bertholle). Over afternoon teas, the ladies baked up a plan to teach cooking to American women in Child's Paris kitchen, and even gave their informal school a name,  L'école des trois gourmandes (The School of the Three Food Lovers).  From there, she published books alone, and with her friends, and enjoyed a fabulous writing and media career thereafter. At Conch, we love her style. We love how she took what life circumstances were around her, and made the best of it. With food, we often find it brings people together and that is why we celebrate Julia Child, she used gastronomy to fit into her new country, and bought home tips to share with her friends too.

 

http://bit.ly/JuliaCroissants Julia’s classic French croissant recipe on her television program, The French Chef

 

Julia Child‘s Chocolate Mousse

She has many recipes for mousse and we decided to feature this one because it is with butter instead of cream and totally extravagant in the way it is made. You will get covered in mousse and the only way to make it is to turn on her cooking show in you tube, listen to her gorgeous voice and pour yourself a sherry to sip on.

You need this …

4  eggs, separated

¾ cup plus

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

¼ cup orange liqueur

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

¼ cup strong liquid coffee

¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

Adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”

1. Have on hand 10 ramekins or custard cups ( ⅓ cup each) or 6 small bowls (¾ cup each).

2. In a bowl combine the egg yolks and ¾ cup granulated sugar. Beat for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick and pale yellow and leaves a ribbon trail on itself when the beaters are lifted.

3. Beat in the orange liqueur and continue mixing until blended.

4. Place the bowl over not quite simmering water and beat for an additional 3 minutes until the mixture forms tiny bubbles and is too hot for your finger.

5. Transfer the bowl to a cold-water bath and continue beating for an additional 3 minutes until the mixture is cool and again forms a ribbon. The consistency will be similar to mayonnaise.

6. Set another bowl over not quite simmering

water. Add the chocolate and coffee and let the mixture sit until the chocolate melts.

7. Remove the chocolate from the heat and beat in the butter a little at a time to form a smooth cream.

8. Beat the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture.

9. In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until they hold soft peaks. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

10. Gently stir one-quarter of the whites into

the chocolate mixture. Fold in the remaining whites.

11. Spoon the mousse into the dishes. Set on

a tray, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

GARNISH

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Grated chocolate or a few springs fresh mint (for garnish)

1. Chill the bowl and beaters for the cream. With an electric mixer, beat the cream until it holds soft peaks.

2. Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until the cream holds stiff peaks; do not overbeat.

3. Garnish the cups with whipped cream and chocolate or mint.

 

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Pink Bank Accounts

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 by

rural bank for womenA pink bank account could be a tipping factor in reducing gender equality in developing countries. It is also one of the most fascinating potentially-emerging trends for women’s rights that I’ve seen in a long time.

The whole topic started with my resistance to go to Western Union and transfer cash to some ladies who were helping me on a research project in Ecuador (where our cacao is farmed and ground). As a third generation social entrepreneur, you don’t need to tell me how questionable ‘holding accounts’ are, regardless of the institution, and I have experienced first-hand the exploitation of my gender in developing countries, so the chances that my dear helpers can even access 100% of the cash I send is unlikely, without a bribe, a note, a kiss, a whatever.

A bank account is difficult to set up sometimes, especially if you’re from a rural area, inconsistent with finances and don’t have a clear local ‘backer’. I watched many times, the large lines in Guayaquil of agri-financing at a local government institution and the ‘uncles’ that would accompany some of the ladies who came in from the mountains to pick up their cash, only able to get the cash if someone ‘credible’ came with them.

I recently read a paper that made my heart click. And I thought, albeit it totally cliché, of pink bank cards. E-Cash payments can actually help bring girls out of poverty, and back-influence core gender inequality topics of schooling, disease prevention and reproductive health programs. The idea, is to target adolescent girls (because they are in the time / place to best learn and use new ways going forward).

The terms is called ‘financially-inclusive e-payments’, and it is a double-header, meaning to improve an adolescent girls’ access to financial services and to teach her about asset-building opportunities.

Adolescence is the time of exploration and learning, the prime opportunity to not only help a girl get work but know how to access her cash and what to do with it. I realise that the problem of over overall poverty, and even equal access to working opportunities is already highly unbalanced.

The UN has a massive program targeting this,  The United Nations Millennium Development Goal 3, to “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women,” as well as Gates Foundation, Clinton Foundation etc.

My personal approach in social entrepreneurship is to contribute small, do-able, meaningful actions that are closely related to something I can understand. It is not my skill-set, nor ability to affect HIV, but this idea of helping girls understand the fundaments of finance, is a very small but meaningful idea we could get behind.

Girl-centered asset-building strategies is what it’s called.

Over the past decades, we have seen e-payments for savings but there is still the big gap for specific invest, grow and leverage elements. Micro-credit has been a huge contribution in this area, but there is another level that can be achieved.

Overall, the idea is that it could provide adolescent girls with access to formal financial systems, help them get their formal identity and rights, help funds that support major girl-focused programs to achieve a better return on investment (and see where their schemes go), and of course, let’s not forget the banks, it helps them expand their customer base. I know, the last one sounds totally banal, but if there is one thing I have learned about ‘sustainability’, it is that every idea and program must be, end-to-end, a win-win for everyone in the chain. If that means a bank. Then so well be it. Another benefit is that social protection payments can go directly where it needs to be, and not filtered through a third (or seventh) party. This means that actions of great needs, like education and health can actually produce better results as the cash will be used with skill, and also directly sent where it is needed.

What about the other things you find stuffed into modern chocolate – sugar, milk and other animal fats (go on, check the ingredients list on the backside of your nearest chocolate). Remember the details of what you read on the packet guidelines of your favourite chocolate? This is where it starts to become relevant.

The multiplier effect is the core of any effect, from tipping point to purple cow.

The ideas range from in-school banking (via e-payments) to using the information of the bank account to target adolescent girls to be and feel independent, show to savings habits can be developed and what personal and community investment can mean. In over a dozen countries across the world, more than 50 percent of girls—and in some nations as much as 87 percent—do not complete primary school.

Globally, approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school at all. In Ecuador, thankfully that rate is higher, so we DO have a chance to access them in a systemised way.

Adolescent girls are the most vulnerable population on the planet. Between the ages of 10-19, there are over 580 million girls. At least 90 million of these beloveds are in low-income countries where the income is less than USD 1,005 per year per person.

They can either join the economy, or go to the kitchen or the fields.

Over 100 million girls aged 5-17 are involved in child labor, with the most of them doing dangerous work. Studies show they also do a lot of ‘informal work’ where girls are particularly isolated and vulnerable. The sooner they can be counted, and use methods to ensure that the benefits they work for come directly to them, the better they can influence other major topics such as health improvement.

Teenage girls are not only the answer to social improvement, but the World Bank has a study indicating that they are also the key to economic growth and stability. My family are all social entrepreneurs, and hardly did charity.

The difference, between charity and helping someone help themselves, in my mother’s words is dignity; in the end, it is empowerment. 

Adolescent girls are apparently the biggest contributing factor that can influence intergenerational poverty than programs targeting children generally. 

“Measuring the Economic Effects of Investing in Girls: The Girl Effect Dividend,” the World Bank’s Jad Chaaban and Wendy Cunningham wrote that if young women in Brazil were employed at the same levels as men, the annual national GDP would rise USD 23 billion. In lifetime income by that logic, they calculate that India would add almost USD 400 billion to its GDP.

Big steps, big goals, but something that is a little smaller and helped by technology could be e-payments targeting teenagers.

Making pink bank accounts and teaching fun finance school.. I am going to try this. Usually when I travel, I hold events about nutrition, and often reach out to areas of a society who are not well informed about processed food vs fresh food. I am often in areas of not desperate poverty, but where industrialisation spread it’s toxicity and supplies cheap candy and processed foods, and I teach about making chocolate fun and healthy. There is a chance in this, to slip in a few finance lessons.  That is a very do-able idea. Which can start now.  And will. On my next event.

For perspective, I looked around for some models, and in the developed world found that the Girl Scouts movement has a program for girl-focused finance development. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/girlscoutaccount

The barriers that exist for AGYW to access cash (what the academics call adolescent girls and young women) range from regulatory to physical, to cultural:

 

The Adolescent Girls Initiative at the World Bank

Launched on October 10, 2008, as part of the World Bank Group’s Gender Action Plan, the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) aims to help adolescent girls and young women make a successful transition from school to work.

The program is being piloted in 8 low-income countries–including some of the toughest environments for girls. Each program is tailored to the country context, with a common goal of discovering what works best in programming to help adolescent girls and young women succeed in the labor market. Each pilot includes a rigorous impact evaluation. With new knowledge of what works, successful approaches can be replicated and brought to scale. http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/gender

 

 

What's On For Serious Global Foodies In The Next Weeks?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 by

food festivalThese are the key foodie events that conscious consumers should keep an eye out for in August/September. You'll find the range of aroma and flavour experiences from local and regional foods, as well as a focus on seasonal cooking, within the field of healthy lifestyles and full-flavour living. See you there my dear LOHAS blog readers!

August 10, 2013  Cardigan River and Food Festival - Cardigan, Ceredigion, Wales

August 17, 2013  Franschhoek Winter Wines 2013 - Franschhoek, South Africa

August 19-23, 2013 International Conference - Ecological Organic Agriculture Yaounde, Cameroon

  • Encourage Agriculture/Livestock
  • Encourage Income Generating Activities
  • LCDEC Mobilising Savings and Delivering Micro-Credit
  • Local Development Planning
  • Encourage Gender Equality
  •  Women Training and Empowerment Project (WTEP)
  • Encourage Adult literacy
  • Working With Communities In HIV/AIDS Prevention And Care
  • Encourage Skills Development
  • Encourage Institution Building

August 23-26, 2013  Real Street Food Quarterly Festival - London, England

The Real Food Festival is also about creating a level playing field upon which even the smallest producers can offer their fabulous, lovingly nurtured food and drink to a huge number of potential customers. What drives them to do this is the desire to show everyone the importance and enjoyment of eating food that has been produced cleanly and sustainably, where the producer gets a fair price for their goods.

August 29-30, 2013  Whisky Live - Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

September 2-4, 2013  Food and Hospitality Oman - Muscat, Oman



September 5-7, 2013  Chocolate Salon - Mexico City, Mexico



September 5-7, 2013  Expo Café - Mexico City, Mexico


September 6-8, 2013  Niagara Food Festival 2013 - Welland, Ontario, Canada

September 7-8, 2013  Franschhoek Uncorked 2013 - Franschhoek, South Africa

September 8-10, 2013  Specialty Chocolate Fair - London, England: Hosted by award winning Patisserie Will Torrent and featuring demonstrations showcasing the latest techniques and trends from the Academy of Chocolate, Damian Wawrzyniak, Valrhona, Alistair Birt, Cocoa Bond. (industry only, good for food writers!)

September 9-12, 2013  Fine Food Australia - Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

 (industry event only & great if you’re a food writer.)

September 11-14, 2013  26th Paisley Beer Festival - Paisley, England



September 12-15, 2013  Mondial de la Biere - Mulhouse, France

Chocolate and the rule of 4

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 by

Let‘s Get Basic.

Chocolate is  a combination of 4 parts; regardless if you talk about 70%, milk, nuts, or virgin chocolate. When we think of chocolate and food sustainability, the biggest issue to really consider is that of substitutability. In the end our food is a version of animal and vegetable proteins how we leverage that is the key. Not only in the growing, but also in the impacts on our health.

 Whether you like pure virgin chocolate or dark chocolate or 81% or truffles or whatever, it is always a combination of four molecules: water, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

The understanding of these by chocolate makers can turn pure cacao beans into something that either is a treat that makes our body feel great, or a disaster that gives you diabetes and pimples.  Whatever you consider chocolate to be, it is literally the different connections of just four parts–hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. Out of this, you either feel great or not. Out of this, your children are calm or crazy, your heart racing or mild, your skin beautiful or like the crater of a moon.

 The first part in understanding chocolate is to relate the nutrition information to your favourite brands, as well as to your favourite foods. To become able to change or influence a situation, we first need to understand it. So please, go have a look:

 Google recently introduced nutrition information in its searches. Try searching for a food item with the word "nutrition" after it. www.google.com

The USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference from the National Agricultural Library has a search function where you can look up your favourite snacks and see what combinations of the four molecules you can find (water, fat, carbohydrate, protein). Type in chocolate to the search function and click on the subset of sweets and just inform yourself for a moment. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov

 If you are not trained in nutrition or health, it’s ok.

Just look and see if anything scary comes out when you look at the ratios in your fave chocolates.

 

LOHAS Trends for 2011 - Food  LOHAS Everywhere; Opportunities and Challenges Growing Healthier Food

 

The Growth of Online Yoga and Fitness

Friday, July 26, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Simple Ways You Can Help Non-Profit Organizations

Thursday, June 13, 2013 by

There are many organizations out there who help people and the planet on a daily basis expecting nothing in return. Volunteers are how these organizations can continue to function as they do in order to help those in need. I believe that in order to survive as a species, we need to help our brethren when we can. In today's world, reaching out to the masses requires a website that is functional, informative, and attractive in order to keep visitors coming back. As I have talent as a web-designer, what better way to help non-profit organizations than to volunteer my time in order to improve the Internet presence they need?


For several years now, I have donated much of my free time to the benefit of organizations that either don't have the money to pay a professional or didn't realize the potential of the Internet. How have my skills been put to use for these selfless organizations?

1. Online Donations - Some organizations will create sales and drives in order to accumulate donations. The people I've helped are now benefiting from the donation button placed on their website with the help of PayPal. I set up the bank and PayPal accounts to accept donations automatically through the website. Now, donations can be made using debit or credit cards from anyone in the world when before it was strictly cash based in a local setting.

2. Content Management - Using Joomla, I helped set up the organization's website and created a "How-to" pamphlet on the ease of creating content to spread the message. As Joomla is incredibly easy to learn, the organization now benefits from adding its own content on a regular basis to share messages, prayer requests, and more.

3. Image Galleries - As this particular organization helps those in other countries, they inquired about an image gallery to show visitors who has been helped by them. Using Joomla, I installed an image gallery to serve the purpose and it works exceptionally well. Images of success stories and children in need are easily viewable on their website.

4. SEO Practices - In order to spread the organizations message to as many people as possible, I created search engine optimization methods within Joomla and the content in order to help in the search rankings. Keywords, phrases, sitemaps, and more have been created to benefit every aspect of this organization. As I develop new methods of development, the organization is one of the first to benefit from the knowledge.

5. YouTube Assistance - I demonstrated how easy it is to create message-spreading sermons to the masses using YouTube. Not only does this give an opportunity to the organization to show videos on YouTube itself, but it increases the value of the website by embedding these sermons and videos directly into pages. My spouse and I have gone so far as to demonstrate the effects of a green screen to create inspirational effects during these videos.

You don't need to donate money in order to help the planet. Many of us possess skills that can be used to the benefit of anyone who is in need of them. A lot of these organizations realize that the time donated by a volunteer reduces the money they would have to pay in order to complete a specific task. Find out how you can put your skills to use today by visiting any local charitable organization.

Author Bio:

This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping @ gmail.com.

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?

 

Beyond Our Own Lifetime

Monday, June 3, 2013 by

Posted by Brent Giles on May 14, 2013 for Powdr Corp's "Carbon Copy" Blog

I believe we can visualize beyond our own lifetime.

My rant on this post is caused by “Americans Global Warming Beliefs in April 2013”

I’m surprised that individual and local weather events are still the basis for some to argue against climate change.  When I look at extreme weather events worldwide combined with empirical temperature records I have to believe something is going on.  Extreme weather events such as in 2011  and in 2012!  Are you excited to see what 2013 brings?

What will it take to convince us?  Global temperatures have increased.  The latest “Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States” isn’t good news either.  Shouldn’t we, at the very least, consider this is a possibility and do something?

Most people have a goal or vision for their future.  Does that vision go beyond their lifetime or the lifetime of their immediate family, really?  Probably not, truth be told.

Many of us are too short sighted and selfish.  We choose to believe things that fit nicely in our comfort zone and individual boxes.  We expect immediate gratification and results, if I do this today then I’ll see thistomorrow.

In 1712 Thomas Newcomen built the first commercially successful steam engine which was the first significant power source other than wind and water.  The industrial revolution began 300 years ago and so did increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, environmental damage and many other pollutants.  These are now some of the rotten fruits of our success.  It has taken 300 years to get where we are today.  What makes me think I can recycle this plastic bottle today and see results tomorrow?

I spend a lot of time wondering how to connect to people.  What can I say that will help someone believe the issue and then have the initiative to help solve the problem?  What is the key to understanding that I am part of the problem, that I am responsible and accountable?  How to reduce our impact on the environment?  It’s a hard problem but there is a solution, me and you.

Well, since I’m talking about responsibility and accountability this might be a good time to mention politics! Beginning on day one after election and for the rest of the term it seems there is only one goal and that is to get re-elected.  I’ve already mentioned short sighted and selfish, right?  Party lines trump moral values, human values, and logical decisions.  Career politics should be abandoned.  “The greater good” will not be the result of policy and regulation enacted by self-serving career driven politicians (big revelation).

Speaking of politics, I’ve been thinking about the images of five Presidents, Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson and Grant.  Surely they are the answer………………..but

Money, money, money, money, all the money in the world can’t buy me a drink of clean water if there isn’t any.  All the money in the world can’t make the air fresh or control the temperature.  Thank goodness the answer isn’t ‘all the money in the world’.   Each and every one of us has the ability to do what’s necessary to cause change.  It’s all about choices, choose wisely.

So we go to work every day and spend countless hours trying to collect more of those five Presidents images.  And when we’re at work we probably spend countless hours dreaming about being out in nature doing what we really want to do!  Lucky me because I get to spend time thinking about our environment and not feel guilty.  So should you.

Reality check; in nature the outcome will be as it always has been, survival of the fittest.  As of today, that ain’t us?

“If we don’t change the direction we’re going, we’ll end up where we’re headed”

 

Free One Month Membership To My Yoga Online

Friday, May 3, 2013 by

My Yoga Online is the leading international online source for yoga instruction and overall healthy living. The website promotes mind-body health, wellness and holistic living with more than 1,000 online yoga, Pilates, and meditation videos.  The site also provides expert information on healthy living, workplace wellness, green living, health advice, a Q&A forum with experts, and more.

On Mother’s Day, May 12, My Yoga Online will launch the “Yoga for Busy Moms” Series, helping moms everywhere stay calm and centered!

Use this link for a free one month membership to My Yoga Online: http://www.myyogaonline.com/m/lohas