Integrative Medicine

Leading Universities for Sustainable Studies

The field of sustainability has evolved from a small niche of environmentalists into a transdisciplinary field that spans from local agriculture to global business. Today, people around the globe are much more aware of the problems facing mankind and the planet as a whole. The population is estimated to grow to nine billion by 2050, an increase that will only further strain our planet's natural resources. In these universities, teachers and students are committing their careers to developing the principles and practices that will allow the human race to achieve a sustainable future.

1. The University of California at Davis

UC Davis has a long history of teaching organic farming, but it wasn't until last year that sustainable agriculture was added to the curriculum. Today, UC Davis offers a degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems that explores the social, economic and environmental aspects of food and agriculture. This course of study goes beyond the farm and the table to the wider global impact of a sustainable food supply.

2. The Center for Alternative Technology

Located in Wales, the CAT eco-center focuses on all aspects of sustainable living and also provides classes for the public and professionals. Its permanent exhibitions of alternative technologies serve as the leading tourist attractions in the area. In 2000, CAT began to teach post graduate studies, and in 2010 CAT built the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (WISE). The WISE building currently serves as a lecture hall as well as a case study for sustainable architecture practices. Since 2008, the Center has offered a Professional Diploma in Architecture.

3. The College of the Atlantic

Students of the College of the Atlantic all share a single major: human ecology. Professors and students at College of the Atlantic approach sustainable issues through various areas of study – such as arts, sciences or business – offering a comprehensive approach to human ecology and its principles. The school also offers only a single graduate concentration, a Master's in Philosophy in human ecology.

4. Oregon Institute of Technology

In 2008, the Oregon Institute of Technology began the first four-year undergraduate degree program in renewable energy systems in the United States. This Bachelor of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering establishes the engineering principles that will promote and integrate alternative energy sources into mainstream society. The degree is taught in both Klamath Falls and Portland, Ore.

5. The Earth Institute at Columbia University

The Earth Institute is a branch of the Columbia University's NYC campus. The EI hosts a variety of majors and degree paths for environmental sciences. Students who are interested in conservation, engineering or evolutional biology can receive an education that will prepare them for careers that value the Earth.

6. The University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is located in Philadelphia and is often called "Penn". Like Columbia, it is an Ivy League school and is one of the oldest and renowned in the United States. The University offers a "Green MBA", which is actually a major in Environmental and Risk Management. The Green MBA teaches the "triple bottom line" principles that comprise a sustainable business model and is a good choice for those who plan to pursue careers with sustainable business initiatives.

7. Center for Sustainable Fashion at London College

This institution melds research, creativity and business to support a sustainable approach to the fashion industry. The Center for Sustainable Fashion at London College encourages social change through fashion trends. The institution challenges the status quo and encourages students to make a positive impact in an industry that can radically change the social and economic realities of our world.

8. The University of New Hampshire

Super Bowl and TIME Magazine Both Focus on Mindfulness

Monday, January 27, 2014 by

Guess what, we all meditate! We may be unaware of this because we believe meditation means sitting still and closing our eyes. However, the moment we focus attention on one thing and bring the mind into a quiet place then we are meditating, which means it can be as much active as it is being still.

The most well-known forms of meditation are watching the flow of the breath or repeating a mantra, as these focus the mind. But it could just as easily be mindfully throwing a football or the stroke of a brush as you paint; most meditation traditions do walking meditation as well as sitting practice. This is meditation in action, which is mindfulness: awareness of the present moment.

“The Seahawks believe their kinder, gentler philosophy is the future of football,” says Alyssa Roenigk in ESPN The Magazine. So could mindfulness and meditation be a way to win the Super Bowl? The Seahawks obviously believe that it can. They are taught yoga and sitting meditation as a part of their training, as it’s difficult to be focused if they are distracted by a monkey mind jumping from thought to thought.

“Meditation is as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field for practice,” says Russell Okung of the Seahawks. “It’s about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn’t matter in that moment. There are so many things telling you that you can’t do something, but you take those thoughts captive, take power over them and change them.”

Meditation focuses the mind in one place and this equally applies to the Denver Broncos, even if they may not knowingly meditate. In football, mindfulness is needed for the accuracy of a touch-down pass down the field, or the presence to know when to throw or when to run with the football: Payton Manning’s great passes are made mindfully, Knowshaun Moreno runs with awareness, Eric Decker receives in the moment!

We taught meditation to the Torquay United Football team in England, sitting in the men’s locker room. They were at the bottom of their league but won their next game, which meant they advanced to the next division. Filmed by the BBC on the 6:00pm evening news, the coach was convinced that the mindfulness training had enabled the players to stay positive, despite being in such a losing position.

As our partner, Brian Jones says: “Meditation is as much something that happens to us as, as something we do, like the “ah-ha” moment when we first learn to ride a bike. All of a sudden it just makes sense, becomes familiar, and comfortable. Meditation and mindfulness, like riding a bike, are about embodiment, self-mastery, and self-fulfillment.”

TIME Magazine agrees. The Feb 3rd issue focuses on mindfulness, the far-reaching effect it is having in all walks of life, and on Jon Kabat-Zinn, who brought mindfulness to hospitals and clinics, through his Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

“People come with a huge amount of pain and suffering, both physical and emotional,” says Kabat-Zinn in our Award Winning book, Be The Change. “Through the cultivation of mindfulness, they develop a more functional relationship with that suffering, they turn towards it, open to it, and actually befriend it to a degree rather than insisting that it stop, and in the process, the pain often transforms or even falls away… For the most part, they will tell you that they are more in touch with their own beauty than they may have been since they were children.”

Whether we sit in formal meditation with our eyes closed, go for a walk or throw a football, if we do it with awareness we are meditating. We can sit with our eyes closed but if our mind is scattered then there’s no stillness, while we can be running everywhere playing competitive sport but if our mind is focused and aware then we are being mindful. A clear and comprehensive training in mindfulness is vital, so it can become integral to every part of our life. Play to win: practice mindfulness! 

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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

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!

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/

Where is the best place to start-up your LOHAS business: Copenhagen, Denmark vs. Colorado, USA

Friday, July 12, 2013 by

An entrepreneur spotlight Q&A with Sandja Brügmann, Founder of Refresh Agency. Interviewed by Lizelle van Vuuren

Sandja Brügmann EmSpot Entrepreneur Sandja Brügmann

Let’s Talk Starting up in different countries, shall we? Would you say it’s easier being an entrepreneur in Copenhagen vs Colorado?

I would say that it is much easier being an entrepreneur in Colorado, and I would think in the US in general over Copenhagen and Denmark.

It surprises me to hear that! What are the key differences?

This is due to many factors such as on the overall cultural differences and mindset of the two countries, to governmental structures, and all the way down to people’s culturally behavioral values, and the actual LOHAS industry I am focused on [LOHAS stands for: lifestyles of health and sustainability]. I have found my business community in Boulder, CO and nation-wide in the US in general to be extremely supportive, generous and helpful.

Can you say a bit more about the differences in mindset, cultural differences and governmental structures of the two countries – and how these influence the entrepreneurial start-up environment?

The politicians in Denmark say they want to focus on making Danish business culture and environment more fertile for entrepreneurial creators, but I do not quite see them understanding the high barriers standing in the way to make this a reality. High taxation, bothersome paperwork structures from VAT to taxation laws (substantially more complicated than the US tax laws), and costly price of services – all high interference roadblocks.  As a start-upper you just do not have the kind of time and resources required to maintain this kind of minimum structure. 

The US on the other hand has minimum governmental interference, which also means simpler reporting and paperwork as well as simpler taxation structures, and cost of services is relatively low – low barriers of entry as an entrepreneur.

Abundance versus scarcity as cultural mindsets and social culture:

The US is founded on the ‘American Dream’ – and if you have an idea and work hard, anything is possible (it’s an entirely other topic if this American dream is indeed still flourishing), as such people depend on other people to succeed, and we are all in the same boat. In my experience of my 16 years in the US, there is a mindset of camaraderie and abundance, where people are extremely open and supportive. I have been connected to collaborative partners and clients without even having to ask. I see this as an abundance mindset.

People in Denmark are not known to be a friendly, open and helpful people – and in my experience that stereotype has proven correct.  Danes tend to keep their networks closed and off limits. It is only a rare Dane, who will welcome you with an open mind, and think about your needs without their own benefit. That said, those people do exist, and I have met incredible people on my path – like attract like – and after my now 2 years in Copenhagen, I can honestly say that I have an incredible and supportive network of likeminded doers and visionaries. However, I believe it’s a rarety.

Furthermore, when I moved back to Copenhagen two years ago after having lived in Boulder, CO for 16 years – and with 10 years behind me as a successful entrepreneur and business owner, I was not met with an ‘awesome, so what’s your plan with your business now you are home’ – I was met with a scarcity mindset –more like ‘can you survive as a small-business owner’ mindset.

In the US I almost only meet people, who show genuine passion and interest when I share my passion and business vision. Just very different mindsets and cultures. Expanding beliefs and thoughts create exactly that – expansion. And the opposite is also true.

It’s quite comfortable in Denmark, and there is no need, so to speak, to work hard and create something from scratch. Being an entrepreneur requires a fearless and courageous attitude and a burning desire to do something better, new and to create. Danes are just too comfortable and contented – the driving force for change is almost non-existent.

What I will highlight as extremely positive about Denmark is the balance between work and family life, and the way children are integrated into life everywhere. People in Denmark strike me as being very good at living and ‘being.

In the US there is a high level of burning platform – there is no social and financial structure and safety net to catch and support you. Each person create their own safety and security parameters through hard work. 

So I would say, if you have the choice between being an entrepreneur in CO versus Copenhagen, I’d chose the US for all the reasons I’ve stated– however, that said, I am truly thriving in my new life and home base of Copenhagen. And I feel extremely fortunate to do business in both the US and Denmark, and the larger European markets. I feel I have created an exciting work- and personal life. I would not want it any other way.

 

Sandja Brügmann is the Managing Partner of @sandja, Facebook page Refresh Agency and Company website   Read the original Entrepreneur Spotlight Interview Now Lizelle Van vurren is founder and CEO of Emspot, a Denver based strategic marketing company, who enable business, start-ups and entrepreneurs grow organically through the power of competitive strategies, mindful marketing and by leaving a socially responsible footprint. The article was originally posted on Emspot Blog

The 6 Best Ways To Distinguish Your Business Online

Monday, May 13, 2013 by

distinguishable online businessby Mike Michalowicz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Band Cloud Cult Showers World with Love

Thursday, May 9, 2013 by

I'm not necessarily a follower. But  I'm proud to announce that I've joined a cult. Cloud Cult, the indie band, originally from Minneapolis, that now lives on an organic, geothermal- powered Wisconsin farm.

At First Avenue a few nights ago, the venue where rock star Prince first came onto the scene—Cloud Cult played to two sold-out shows and put on a show that was pure magic.

Their new album Love, is beautiful, insightful, mystical, wise and takes listeners on an inner odyssey that is guaranteed to rock your world.

The band's label, Earthology, is committed to greening the music industry, offsets carbon from tours and developed the first 100% post-consumer recycled CD packaging in the U.S. 

As a leader in the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health & Sustainability) space, and president of firefly180 marketing, I know the power of music as a vehicle for change.

Working with green artists that include John Denver, Kenny Loggins, Jack Johnson and the Dave Matthews Band,  I know that music speaks to the soul and touches the heart in ways that words alone can't.  Music and lyrics are the ultimate integrated marketing campaign. Songs become doors that open the mind to action. And for environmental artists, music can be a platform that becomes a springboard for change.

Cloud Cult doesn't just write and perform music. They literally shower the world with love.  Just like all of us in  conscious businesses. Although not all of us can sing and compose music, our voices are heard just the same.

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

 

LOHAS Food Trends

Sunday, May 5, 2013 by

I am fortunate to be able to connect with various experts in a variety of LOHAS related categories as well as research various articles predicting what to expect as new opportunities and market trends in the growing LOHAS market. Based on my discussions and findings, here are a few things that I think stand out in the organic and natural food vertical of LOHAS:

1.       A growing awareness of ingredients and sourcing – organic, GMO, fair trade

Those who are opposed to genetically-modified organisms in their food — everything from grains to fish — are getting louder and their concerns heard as demonstrated when, anti-GMO activists hijacked Cheerio’s Facebook page. But following the defeat of California’s Proposition 37, which would have been the first legislation to require GMO labeling, the community is bound to get noisier than ever.

2.       Closing the Price Gap on Organic

Consumers will be able to find certified organic products in all sections of the supermarket and pharmacy.  Expect an evolution of other industry sectors, such as organic personal care, pet food (more like pet treats) dietary supplements. What manufacturers create or retailers carry all depends on the target customer. Capturing discriminating LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) customers goes well beyond one person: it spreads to their families and pets.

3.       Accessible Organic

Larger organic production, from farm acreage expansion to processing facilities, will translate into organic landing where it is most needed: schools, hospitals, food banks, convenience stores and in mainstream America’s home. Some communities are better served by organic than others, but organic will continue to pop up as distribution channels increase beyond grocery stores. New markets will open to organic food growers, makers and sellers as consumers look for cleaner food beyond grocery stores.

4.       Gluten free integrated into all food options and will be a common part of menu options

The gluten-free market, by comparison is expected to have reached US$1.3 billion in sales by 2011. However, the gluten-free market, which is still in its early growth, is expected to achieve higher growth rates (31%) from 2011 to 2014. Sales in the category have doubled in the last 5 years and are expected to double again in the next 3 years to $5.5 billion by 2015. The new ‘gluten-free’ is already here. With food allergies rising worldwide — at least seven per cent of Canadians have a food allergy — more companies will build facilities dedicated to manufacturing foods free of allergens like dairy, peanuts, egg, soy and shellfish.

5.       Healthy Fast Food - Other Chipotle type chains on the rise.

According to Baum & Whiteman, other chains are following suit, but need to make sure they capitalize on more than just comfy décor and made-to-order food: Companies  will needs to wear its heart on its sleeve … incorporating not just value, but values. Expect more fast food chains to promote sustainable food choices and friendly casual atmospheres. Giants like McDonald’s are embracing this with their new calorie information menus

6.       Food waste awareness on the rise

Americans throw out nearly half of their food, tossing up to 40 percent in the garbage each year, according to a new study. That adds up to an estimated $165 billion according to Natural Resources Defense Council. As more people seek to squeeze money out of their budgets this will be scrutinized as more become aware not to mention restaurants that may waste more .

7.       Chia seed and fermented beverages rule

The nutty tasting Chia seed has more protein, energy and fiber than any other whole grain. The seed is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Three ounces of Chia contains the same amount of Omega-3 fatty acid as 28 ounces of salmon, as much calcium as 3 cups of milk, as much iron as 5 cups of raw spinach, and as much vitamin C as seven oranges!   Chia drinks & oils have seen over a 1000% growth in 2012 according to SPINS. No, we’re not talking about the kind you grow in a pot, but 2013 is all about adding the chia seed to your diet.

8.        Chill out power drinks

In a rebound from power shots such as 5 hour energy and Red Bull there are now drinks that promote relaxation using supplements and herbs. The drinks, which evolved in Japan as far back as 2005, contain no alcohol but some have melatonin, a hormone that can cause drowsiness for those suffering from insomnia and high stress.

9.       Sustainable seafood continues to grow  

According to the National Restaurant Association’s chef survey, sustainable seafood is a top trend among chefs. And sustainability initiatives, such as the well-known Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, report an increase in the number of chefs and operators following their guidelines.

10.   Organic soil promoted as carbon reduction

According to the Organic Center Analyzing  international experts headed by scientists from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Switzerland have concluded that organic agriculture provides environmental benefits through carbon sequestration in soils. Not only are their health benefits but global environmental benefits.

11.   Increased Demand on Transparency

Consumers demand transparency they will come to know what organic means across categories such as personal care, household cleaners and dietary supplements. Natural retailers are already at the forefront by using shelf talkers that tell the story behind the products. Manufacturers only have so much room on labels but can provide more detailed information on their website, Facebook and Twitter. Social platforms will allow consumers to become educated on organica. Companies such as Stoneyfield Farms and Nature’s Path are leaders in this.

 

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

The Case for Building a Fiercely Loyal Community

Thursday, May 2, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

What makes them want to spread the word?

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

ROI #2: A Grassroots Research and Development Team

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

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

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

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

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

ROI #4: Reduced Customer/Client Attrition

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

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

ROI #5: Happier Customers and Clients

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strategies to elicit higher creativity and sustainable innovation within your team.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 by

In my leadership work with business owners and executives, I often hear the question: "How can I motivate and inspire my people to perform on a higher level, solve problems more independently, and receive a regular flow of unsolicited ideas to increase my company's level of innovation?"

Here's my response. I have outlined a simple 3-step strategy that you can apply in every situation where you provide feedback or guidance to an employee that will encourage and motivate them to share their new ideas. One thing I want you to know before you start: this strategy only works if you make it a fundamental part of your mindset and continuously apply it. It truly must become a habit and natural response in your repertoire of leadership skills. It simply will not work if it's artificially applied. You must honestly mean it and feel it!

Step 1: See people on the highest level.
This is the basis of the strategy. Put your focus on all the great skills and qualities you can find in the person. Don't stop on a superficial level and think: "… he's doing his job pretty well, he’s a good guy." Go deep. You must be one hundred percent present and specific when you focus on his best talents and highest qualities. Say to yourself, for example, "The way he's speaking and articulating himself is incredible. With his level of clarity and energy he is representing our company in the best possible way." Here, it is important to check your own ego and increase your level of self-awareness. It is often hard to give someone, particularly a team member or employee, a lot of credit and acknowledgement. A brilliant leader steps up to the plate and rejoices in fulling seeing the person’s quality as a big asset for his firm or team.

Apply this view whenever you engage in a feedback conversation with your employee and constantly seek out ways to find and integrate more of his better qualities and skills into his work. I know you might think now that this is a bunch of BS, that this person is not good at this specific thing and he needs to improve it and by me just not focusing on it he will not get better. I totally understand this thought. Not everyone is excellent at everything, but remember one thing - whatever your focus on will expand (positive or negative) - so the more you elicit qualities and skills in people and elevate them, the better the people will become. And here's another big thing, the more you elevate your employees the quicker they will improve on skills they weren't good at before and they better they will perform. And why? It’s because the more you constantly connect them with their inherent resources and talents in what they naturally excel in, the better they will feel, the more confident the will be, and the more inspiration and enthusiasm they will express. The secret of this philosophy is that you will see yourself surrounded by more and more brilliant people who will contribute to your company's success. You will be in GOOD COMPANY ;-)

Step 2: Discover their bright spots and success stories.
Find examples in their work that were exceedingly good. Find situations when they performed on the highest level, did something unexpected that turned into success, contributed with innovative ideas, and solved problems without much advice and guidance from your side. Get curious and find out what they exactly did in these situations. Ask them: "How did you convince this new prospect to partner with us? What exactly did you do, what steps did you follow?" Learn the strategy they followed and the steps they took and give them credit for that. Praise works wonders if you connect it to a specific situation or incident. It will become the resource for your employee to do more of it and to share it so that others can also learn and benefit from his talent and knowledge. Your job as a leader is to discover these bright spots and provide very specific feedback and acknowledgement that will elevate that person.

Step 3: Turn successes into repeatable strategies.
Now you can ask yourself: “How can I support this person to repeat these success stories more often in his work.” Also ask your employee directly and work with him to develop the ideal conditions and circumstances that will enable him to perform on the highest level. Once you understand what he needs you will be much better at creating and providing the resources for success. He will thank you with providing a high level of commitment, outstanding performance, and a flood of new ideas that can contribute to your companies level of innovation.

 

Sascha BosioAbout Sascha Bosio

Sascha Bosio is an international expert for innovation and leadership, Sascha is also an entrepreneur and meditation/awareness trainer. As Founder of The Brilliant Leadership Company a firm for strategic innovation for the lifestyle industry in San Francisco, Sascha has made it his vision to help business owners to create a flow of sustainable innovation and business growth. Sascha has worked with many lifestyle companies and leaders such as adidas, Montblanc, frontlineshop.com, Bryan Kest's Power Yoga.
 

 

2013 YEAR OF SYNERGY – THE GREAT SUSTAIN-ABILITY!

Monday, March 25, 2013 by

The good news for 2013 is that we didn't die in the doom and gloom at the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012.  We are still here, but how are we here?  Are you going to struggle along to just get along?  If you want more and better out of life, the natural principles of sustainability show you how.  To sustain is to be continuously happy and healthy and successful.

The core "sustain ability" for this life of ongoing fulfillment and aliveness is SYNERGY.

Synergy is the principle of exponential and renewable energy that is rooted in the Greek language as "sun ergos," or sun energy – "sunergy" into synergy.  Our sun keeps going and going because it is synergistic, meaning that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and when the parts of this fireball go off, they are refueled by and refuel all other combustions – continuously multiplying and regenerating itself.  

Like the sun, having our own inner fire, how can we stay fired up and keep going in this world of incessant change, increasing complexity, competition, and speed?  Be the sun, synergize yourself!  Remember, energy is the bottom line of life – for continued aliveness, and sustainable success in all endeavors from health to money, personal growth to relationships.  With energy, anything is possible.  The rule of energy is that "energy rules!"

Curiously and synchronistically on an esoteric level, the year 2013 numerologically adds up to the number six, which in the ancient Hebrew Kabalah "tree of life," is represented by the letter, "Vav" that means connection, the hook that holds everything together and unified.  In the venerable tarot "wisdom map of life,"the number six is the VI Lovers archetype card.   The Lovers is all about connection, integration, unification, healing, teaming, partnering, cooperating, co-creating, collaborating.  In a word, all this means wholeness, which in turn is synergistic.

Living wholistically and synergistically is the key step for living well and living long, for surviving and thriving (sustaining) because it fulfills the holy grail of today, being able to "RE" yourself and all aspects of your life.  "Re" means able to reflect, rejuvenate, renew, restart, reinvent, repeat, re, re, re.  This is all good in theory, and it's real, it's the truth, but how do we apply these principles in our daily life?  What are you RE-peating in life today and not De-pleting yourself, the great secret!

("SYNERGY" Card from my VOYAGER TAROT DECK...www.jamesmwanless.com)

 

Conscious Money & Conscious Capitalism

Friday, January 25, 2013 by

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

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

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

Monday, December 31, 2012 by

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

The Next 20 Years of Sustainable Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where We Need To Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

For more information go to- www.GreenMoney.com

 

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Looking Forward – Relevance Achieved

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 by

socially responsible investingLooking Forward – Relevance Achieved By Amy Domini, CFA, founder, Domini Social Investments ( Article from Fall 2012 - Special 20th Anniversary issue of GreenMoney Journal and  www.GreenMoney.com )

Looking forward ten, even twenty years, what will Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) have become? What will it have accomplished? What will the field look like? Today, I build a case for a good future. In a word, it will largely be marvelous.

Roughly 15 years ago, I spoke in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It is a spectacular setting, one that makes a person proud to be in a great nation like ours, one that protects such places. Yet, as I reminded the audience that day, it had not been the public that had kept the Grand Tetons pristine. It was one man, John D. Rockefeller, who had purchased the land and given it to the nation.

This is the classic dilemma we in SRI struggle with every day. It is great that the Grand Tetons are a public treasure, but they became so on the backs of crushed labor forces, pollution and selfishness. One man made his money and then gave it away, but he set in motion the international oil industry, an industry that is robbing us of a climate, a future.

That day I challenged SRI to become relevant. Today, I can see clearly that it has. Over the next twenty years, the positions we have taken and the battles we have fought will lead to a universal understanding that what we have been saying, the way you invest matters, is absolutely correct. We will see our guiding principles integrated into the mainstream. We will be astonished at the acceptance and the impact that we have had.

How We Became Relevant - Performance Matters

Perhaps the most devastating argument we faced early on was the Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT). It argues that the previous “prudent man” idea of buying good stocks alone, created risk. Introduced in 1952 by Harry Markowitz, the original premise was simple: investors should focus on overall portfolio risk. Simply put, even if you love software, you still shouldn’t build an entire portfolio of software stocks. Astonishingly, this revelation won Mr. Markowitz a Nobel Prize in Economics and caused the entire financial services industry to argue that the individual risk characteristics of a company mattered little.

Against this backdrop, SRI seemed hopelessly old fashioned. We argue that each company, by virtue of the industry within which it operates, faces a series of risks that we label as risks to people or the planet. We then argue that taking too large a risk is not necessary and further, that it perpetuates an acceptance of these risks. Wall Street pundits stated with great authority, but with no basis, that our form of analysis flew in the face of Modern Portfolio Theory and so would fail. Our largest barrier was that, to use the vernacular, every smart person knew SRI was stupid.

The evidence proved otherwise. The MSCI KLD 400 Social Index has not only debunked the premise of MPT, but also shown that risk avoidance works. The index has outperformed -- and has done so with a lower standard deviation. Clearly, examining the risk of corporate behavior tells us something about a company that is useful to investors.

Why We Are Relevant – An Increase in Reporting

SRI practitioners have pushed for “extra-financial” data and have gotten it. At first, true comparative data on companies was extremely scarce in some areas of keen interest to the concerned investor. Any good researcher understands that the newspapers are a lousy place to start. The fact that we know that Apple sourced from Foxconn does not tell us what Hewlett Packard does. What is needed is data that is universally ascertainable, without the company answering a questionnaire (which allows them to self-define), and the data must be quantitative in nature, e.g. I don’t care as much about a statement that a company seeks diversity as I do about how many minorities have been hired.

Today, thousands of companies self-report. Whereas the one or two companies that issued Social Responsibility reports thirty years ago were real outliers, today it is so mainstream that Forbes magazine maintains a blog to follow them. Accounting giant PWC makes available the 2010 survey of CSR reporting on their website. The highlights: 81 percent of all companies have CSR information on their websites; 31 percent have these assured (or verified) by a third party. Their 2012 update contains examples of what to look for when writing (or reading) them.

Who was pushing for this disclosure? It wasn’t civil society, it wasn’t Wall Street; it wasn’t government. It was a loose confederation of concerned investors who consistently pushed for greater and more standardized “non-financial” information.

Why We Are Relevant – An Increase in Regulation to Disclose

Regulators are beginning to expand on the data corporations are required to disclose. Remember, there was no God-given definition of the right way to report financials to investors. In 1932, when reforms to protect investors began, regulators looked at some of the pre-existing methods and evaluated them. This led to audited annual reports on income statements and balance sheets. It led to quarterly unaudited reports. These had, in the past, come to be viewed as important in judging the financial soundness of a corporation.

However, the regulators did not stop with accounting issues. Given that the 1930s were a period of high unemployment, the number of company employees was considered important, and so its disclosure became mandated. There is no reason that more robust social and environmental reporting shouldn’t be in the financial reports. We already disclose a company’s hometown, without companies complaining of the inappropriateness and burden of so doing.

The Initiative for Responsible Investment at Harvard University maintains a database of Global CSR Disclosure requirements. In it we find 34 nations are taking steps. In 2009, Denmark, required companies to disclose CSR activities and use of environmental resources. In 2010, the United Kingdom required companies that use more than 6,000MWh per year to report on all emissions related to energy use. Malaysia, in 2007, required companies to publish CSR information on a "comply or explain" basis. Regulators, recognizing the societal costs of less than full cost accounting, are moving in to mandate disclosure.

Mainstreaming - With this solid base, here come the “big boys”

Conventional asset managers and the academic community have brought SRI to the mainstream. I began by saying the future for SRI is marvelous. Consider a world in which every major financial asset management firm demands that its staff study the social and environmental implications of the investments they make and bases recommendations upon it.

But this has already begun. Consider MEAG, the American portfolio management branch of Munich Re. Their team buys only publicly traded bonds which then back the insurance the firm issues. They use ESG criteria to give their research the edge and to avoid risk. When I met with their research team, I found that they use several of Domini’s Key Indicators. No, we don’t publish the indicators. It also was not a coincidence. The two firms independently discovered the same indicators to be telling because they both use the same logic in approaching the issues. Or there is UBS Investment Bank, where analysts specifically address the social, environmental or governance risks of a company they are recommending.

Finally, look at the all-important realm of academia, where MPT began. Just three recent examples are telling:

The Impact of a Corporate Culture of Sustainability on Corporate Behavior and Performance by Professors Robert Eccles and George Serafeim, Harvard Business School. “… we provide evidence that High Sustainability companies significantly outperform their counterparts over the long-term, both in terms of stock market and accounting performance. The outperformance is stronger in sectors where the customers are individual consumers, companies compete on the basis of brands and reputation, and in sectors where companies' products significantly depend upon extracting large amounts of natural resources.”

Corporate Social Responsibility and Access to Finance by Beiting Cheng, Harvard Business School, Ioannis Ioannou, London Business School, and George Serafeim, Harvard Business School. “Using a large cross-section of firms, we show that firms with better CSR performance face significantly lower capital constraints. The results are confirmed using an instrumental variables and a simultaneous equations approach. Finally, we find that the relation is primarily driven by social and environmental performance, rather than corporate governance.”

An FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for Financial Innovation: Applying the Insurable Interest Doctrine to Twenty-First Century Financial Markets, by Eric A. Posner and E. Glen Weyl, Law School, University of Chicago. “We propose that when firms invent new financial products, they be forbidden to sell them until they receive approval from a government agency designed along the lines of the FDA, which screens pharmaceutical innovations. The agency would approve financial products if they satisfy a test for social utility …”

The Next Twenty Years

This article limits its scope to only one leg of the SRI stool. It does not discuss the growth of shareholder activism, which is vibrant. Nor does it address the mainstreaming of selling products with narrow and specific social purpose, also a burgeoning field. Rather, by looking at the application of social criteria to an investable universe alone, we see that barriers have been removed, and that now both a mountain of money, and the force of government and academia, will work with us and introduce our goals into mainstream investment thinking.

We know we can make money, government is increasingly with us, and academia is swinging our way. Now, the rapid acceptance of more robust and integrated accounting has done away with the last barriers. This brings us the assets to have impact. As society sees the full cost of traditional business behavior, SRI will be embraced as the single most important lever towards building a better world than the planet has ever seen.

 

Article by Amy Domini, who has worked for decades to advocate that financial systems must be used to create a world of universal human dignity and ecological sustainability. She authored or co-authored several books. Her most recent, Socially Responsible Investing: Making a Difference and Making Money, was published by Dearborn Trade in 2001. She writes on the topic frequently. Her articles have appeared on the Huffington Post, the OECD Observer, GreenMoney Journal and the Journal of Investing. She is a regular columnist for Ode Magazine.

Time magazine named her to the “Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people” in 2005. President Clinton honored her at the inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, citing her role in making socially responsible investing a global trend. The Dalai Lama, during a Town Meeting on Ethics, heard her presentation and urged his audience to give it credence.

Ms. Domini works with high net worth individuals at the Sustainability Group in Boston; she also founded Domini Social Investments, LLC ( www.domini.com ), a no-load mutual fund family for socially responsible investors. Between the two firms, she manages roughly $2 billion in assets, all invested with environmental and social objectives in mind.

She holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and received her B.A in International Economics from Boston University. In 2006, Ms. Domini was awarded an honorary Doctor of Business Administration from Northeastern University. In 2007, she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. Ms. Domini is a past trustee of the Church Pension Board at the Episcopal Church (U.S.A.). Among others, she is also a past Board member of the Governing board of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the National Community Capital Association, and the Social Investment Forum.

 

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

Monday, December 3, 2012 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Footnotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Leading Universities for Sustainable Studies

Monday, November 26, 2012 by

The field of sustainability has evolved from a small niche of environmentalists into a transdisciplinary field that spans from local agriculture to global business. Today, people around the globe are much more aware of the problems facing mankind and the planet as a whole. The population is estimated to grow to nine billion by 2050, an increase that will only further strain our planet's natural resources. In these universities, teachers and students are committing their careers to developing the principles and practices that will allow the human race to achieve a sustainable future.

1. The University of California at Davis

UC Davis has a long history of teaching organic farming, but it wasn't until last year that sustainable agriculture was added to the curriculum. Today, UC Davis offers a degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems that explores the social, economic and environmental aspects of food and agriculture. This course of study goes beyond the farm and the table to the wider global impact of a sustainable food supply.

2. The Center for Alternative Technology

Located in Wales, the CAT eco-center focuses on all aspects of sustainable living and also provides classes for the public and professionals. Its permanent exhibitions of alternative technologies serve as the leading tourist attractions in the area.  In 2000, CAT began to teach post graduate studies, and in 2010 CAT built the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (WISE). The WISE building currently serves as a lecture hall as well as a case study for sustainable architecture practices. Since 2008, the Center has offered a Professional Diploma in Architecture.

3. The College of the Atlantic

Students of the College of the Atlantic all share a single major: human ecology. Professors and students at College of the Atlantic approach sustainable issues through various areas of study – such as arts, sciences or business – offering a comprehensive approach to human ecology and its principles. The school also offers only a single graduate concentration, a Master's in Philosophy in human ecology.

4. Oregon Institute of Technology

In 2008, the Oregon Institute of Technology began the first four-year undergraduate degree program in renewable energy systems in the United States. This Bachelor of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering establishes the engineering principles that will promote and integrate alternative energy sources into mainstream society. The degree is taught in both Klamath Falls and Portland, Ore.

5. The Earth Institute at Columbia University

The Earth Institute is a branch of the Columbia University's NYC campus. The EI hosts a variety of majors and degree paths for environmental sciences. Students who are interested in conservation, engineering or evolutional biology can receive an education that will prepare them for careers that value the Earth.

6. The University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is located in Philadelphia and is often called "Penn". Like Columbia, it is an Ivy League school and is one of the oldest and renowned in the United States. The University offers a "Green MBA", which is actually a major in Environmental and Risk Management. The Green MBA teaches the "triple bottom line" principles that comprise a sustainable business model and is a good choice for those who plan to pursue careers with sustainable business initiatives.

7. Center for Sustainable Fashion at London College

This institution melds research, creativity and business to support a sustainable approach to the fashion industry. The Center for Sustainable Fashion at London College encourages social change through fashion trends. The institution challenges the status quo and encourages students to make a positive impact in an industry that can radically change the social and economic realities of our world.

8. The University of New Hampshire

 This school, located in Durham, New Hampshire, makes the list with its dual major EcoGastronomy. The major integrates sustainable agriculture with hospitality management and nutrition for a comprehensive and holistic approach to selecting and preparing food for health and taste.

9. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Students of the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design can select from a variety of different creative majors with an emphasis in sustainable practices.  Complementing sustainable architecture is the sustainable interior design initiative in which students learn the brass tacks of designing as well as the environmental impacts on human behavior and eco-friendly building materials and systems.

Nadia Jones is an education blogger for Onlinecollege.org where she writes about education news, online learning platforms, and accredited online colleges. She recently helped compile an Online College Catalogue for prospective students. Nadia welcomes your comments and questions at nadia.jones5@gmail.com.

 

Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine Offers Online Classes to the Public

Thursday, August 23, 2012 by

Every day, more medical professionals and patients are recognizing the benefits of an integrative approach to health care. Integrative medicine (IM) is a health philosophy that focuses on the whole person, not just the disease. In treating an illness or disorder, a doctor who practices IMworks to heal the whole patient; mind, body and spirit.

Because the evidence is stacking in favor of integrative medicine, there is a growing interest in learning more about how to use the philosophy for well-being. To answer this curiosity, some medical schools that teach the IM philosophy have chosen to offer individual online classes about the subject, many of them open to the public.

If you are interested in learning more about integrative medicine, the University of Arizona’s Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine offers some of the best online classes on the topic. These courses are fully accredited, and most are open to the public. Tuition fees for each class range from free to $240.

Course topics include prostate cancer and IM, breast cancer and IM, anti-inflammatory diet, introduction to integrative mental health: anxiety and depression, environmental medicine, nutrition and cardiovascular health, nutrition and cancer and Ayurveda.

These courses can be taken at any time. However, you must complete the course within the allotted time frame, before losing access to the online course material. These classes do not provide students with any type of college credit. Registration and payment may be completed online at www.IntegrativeMedicine.Arizona.edu.

If you are not a medical professional, it is best to use what you learn as a supplement to professional medical care. As always, share all information about physical activity, diet and other at-home health care treatments with your doctor. If you are interested in using integrative medicine to treat a current illness, discuss the possibility first with your current medical practitioner.

In addition to the above online courses, there are other sources on the internet for information about IM, but only content provided by an accredited institution should be used. Lastly, before agreeing to pay for any online course, make sure that the school offering the course is a fully accredited institution.

Barbara Jolie is a freelance writer and blogger who contributes most of her work to www.OnlineClasses.org. She writes about the advantages of online college and is particularly interested in writing and language education. If you have any questions, please email her at barbara.jolie876@gmail.com.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/alternative-medicine-integrative-medicine

http://integrativemedicine.arizona.edu/education/online_courses.html

Slipping Green Through the Back Door

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 by

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

LOHAS Provides Funding for Start Ups via LOHAS Asia

Thursday, June 21, 2012 by

ArtterroLOHAS Asia, the sister organization to LOHAS USA, is thrilled to announce that the first round of the LOHAS Asia Funding Initiative has resulted in investment in US based LOHAS company, Artterro. Artterro produces eco art kits for children, and following three rigorous rounds of assessment by a funding panel in Singapore, Artterro was selected to receive investment to help it grow to the next level.

What Is The LOHAS Asia Funding Initiative?

The LOHAS Asia Funding Initiative has been created to achieve the following:
1. To fill the gap in traditional funding models to provide a much-needed link between investors and entrepreneurs that meet the demands of the LOHAS consumer in Asia
2. To accelerate the development of small, sustainable businesses that meet the needs of the LOHAS consumer, and who – through their success – have the capacity to drive industry-wide change
3. To demonstrate the viability of triple bottom-line business to the wider investment community
4. To promote sustainable consumption in Asia by supporting the provision of a wider choice of price competitive, sustainable and aspirational LOHAS products.

LOHAS Asia’s Funding Initiative combines access to funds of up to US$10 million in growth capital per company with ongoing marketing, technology and strategic planning mentoring and support from a number of the world’s leading corporations. The Initiative is targeted at for-profit LOHAS companies from all over the world who have a clear Asia strategy (supply, production or distribution) and a minimum of one year’s trading revenues.The funding panel, made up of finance, branding, technology, retail experts and entrepreneurs, chose Artterro because it represents a strong example of a for-profit company strongly underpinned by LOHAS values.

“Artterro is exactly the kind of company that we wish to see funded to be able to grow to the next stage of their business. They are a business founded on solid LOHAS values, with adherence to triple bottom line principles. We wish to be able to show that integration of social justice and environmental protection into a company’s operations can yield normal returns to the investor community. Being LOHAS should not be an excuse for poor profitability and sub standard quality of goods and services, but can actually yield greater profits versus business-as-usual and deliver products and services that can compete with any company in the market. Furthermore, profits are then used for the greater good in turn, according to the company values.” said Adam Horler, President of LOHAS Asia.

The LOHAS Asia Funding Initiative represents the future of sustainable innovation. Its breakthrough platform brings together a diverse set of partners (entrepreneurs, industry specialists, and financial institutions) to accelerate the development of new enterprises with responsible business models. I'm proud to be a part of this visionary organization and excited about it supporting Artterro, an energetic firm with real promise to disrupt its industry for good." said funding panel member, Dustin Garis, Global Brand Manager at P&G Futureworks.

The Funding Initiative is focused on companies that have an end consumer for their products or services and an Asia strategy. The investment received by Artterro will be used to increase its marketing and sales capacity and to help the company expand production and distribution in Asia.

"We have always been inspired by the amazing work LOHAS is doing, so this opportunity is both an honor and further inspiration to grow sustainably. We are thrilled that the LOHAS Asia Funding Initiative chose Artterro for investment, and we look forward to working with our new strategic mentors to reach our potential as a truly global brand with LOHAS values." said Forrest Espinoza, Founder and CEO of Artterro.

The second round of the LOHAS Asia Funding Initiative was launched on Friday 15th June. Any interested companies should contact info@lohas-asia.org for more information on how to apply.




LOHAS Asia is a social enterprise based in Singapore seeking to encourage sustainable consumption, particularly across urban Asia. The purchasing decisions of the ever growing population of affluent Asian middle class consumers is critically important - both as a market for companies and for future of the planet as a whole. LOHAS Asia works on both sides of the sustainable consumption equation, seeking to engage with consumers themselves and to support the growing community of LOHAS companies, thereby helping to increase the choice of aspirational yet sustainable products and lifestyles available to consumers. LOHAS Asia has created THE HUB by LOHAS, an online network for LOHAS companies across the world to connect, collaborate and seek opportunities. www.thehub.lohas.com

Artterro is an award winning eco art kit company based in Madison, WI, USA. Helping people tap into their creativity with inspiring, open-ended art projects is at the core of Artterro’s mission, as is their commitment to sustainability. Artterro sources artist-quality, natural materials from ethical suppliers, and people with special needs assemble the kits at Goodwill Industries.  Their kits make art more accessible and bring friends and families together across generations.  www.artterro.com

 

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