Social Justice Issues

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

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

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Leading Grocers Act to Reduce Food Waste

Thursday, March 21, 2013 by

“We educate team members and consumers to sort their trash and not just ‘throw it away,’ because there is no ‘away.’”   - Tristam Coffin, Whole Foods Market

Abundance and waste. They are two sides of the same coin in America, and that goes for our food system, too.

According to Jonathan Bloom, author of Wasted Food, nearly 40% of all food produced in the United States gets thrown away before it is consumed, and the vast majority of that (97%) ends up in a landfill, where organic food waste is one of the main culprits in methane gas production – a major contributor to global warming.

Each year, 160 billion pounds of food – the equivalent of $250 billion per year – is wasted, enough to fill the equivalent of two Rose Bowls every day, said Bloom, who spoke at the Sustainable Foods Summit held recently in San Francisco, and produced by leading market research firm Organic Monitor.

With the planet’s population set to increase from 7 billion to more than 9 billion by 2050, it isn’t just a matter of increasing food production, but decreasing food waste as well as redistributing food to food banks. A number of grocers are taking steps to address this issue, including SuperValu, the third largest retailer in the U.S., which has achieved “zero waste,” or 90% diversion from the landfill, in 150 of its stores, said Michael Hewett, Director of Environmental and Sustainability Programs for Publix and a member of the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) Sustainability Executive Committee.

“As retailers pull cardboard, plastic, cans, etc., out of the waste stream, they are left with food,” said Hewett. “We must find ways to capture food before it goes bad and get it to food banks. From Ahold USA to Winn Dixie, grocers need to share best practices in a ‘pre-competitive’ way. That’s radical collaboration,” he said.

“Globally, one third of all food produced is wasted in processing, handling, storage, sale, preparation and cooking and serving of food,” said Amy Kirtland, Executive Director of Unified Grocers. Kirtland is working with grocers through the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, comprising members of FMI, Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Restaurant Association, to divert and reduce food waste. Kroger is diverting organic waste to energy production, she said, while Hannaford educates children about food waste through a pilot composting project.

At Whole Foods Market, “We’re looking not for a ‘silver bullet,’ said Tristam Coffin, Whole Foods’ Energy and Maintenance Project Manager, so much as ‘silver buckshot,’ in that stores deal with food waste in region-appropriate ways.” For example, Whole Foods stores in St. Paul, MN, are working with a local farmer to divert food waste for hog feed; other stores work with farmers to supply food waste for compost. In Chicago, stores donate local produce waste to the Lincoln Park Zoo. “We educate team members and consumers to sort their trash and not just ‘throw it away,’ because there is no ‘away,’” he said.

With regard to donating food to food banks, the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, signed by President Clinton in 1996, helps reduce liability for grocers seeking to distribute food to food banks and the poor, said Claire Cummings, West Coast Fellow at Bon Appetit Management Co., a leading food service company working with universities and other institutions. “Our goal is to find ways to distribute 1 billion pounds of produce per year by 2015, and that includes making sure that food banks are prepared to take on additional capacity for donated foods ,” added Devi Raja, Director of Food Produce for Feeding America.

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Steven Hoffman, Co-founder of LOHAS Journal and the LOHAS Forum annual market trends conference, and former director of The Organic Center, has been involved in sustainable food and agriculture and the LOHAS market for more than 30 years. He is Managing Director of Compass Natural LLC, a full service marketing communications, public relations and business development agency serving natural, organic and sustainable business. Hoffman is former Editorial Director of New Hope Natural Media’s natural and organic products trade publications and former Program Director of Natural Products Expo East and West, the world’s largest natural and organic products trade exhibitions. A former Peace Corps volunteer and agricultural extension agent, Hoffman holds a M.S. in Agriculture from Penn State University.

Good Investors Love Good Businesses…and Good Businesses Love the LOHAS Accelerator

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 by

Author: Cissy Bullock, Awesome LOHASIAN and CEO LOHAS Asia

We’ve got some seriously good news for LOHAS companies, because if you’re working for a sustainable future of our planet as well as your bottom line, there is a new generation of investors looking to help you expand across the globe, improving the lives of even more LOHAS consumers. LOHAS companies are already seeing rapid growth. Success stories like Patagonia and the delicious Innocent Smoothies prove that mission-based companies with LOHAS values embedded at their core, make very attractive investments.

The rise of conscious capitalism,  whereby consumers, producers and investors assess economic decisions based on their impact on the triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profit, rather than just economic growth, is frequently cited as one of the megatrends for this decade. As part of this, more and more individuals are recognizing the benefits of Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS), and are seeking out more eco friendly, socially aware and sustainable products/brands to support a more balanced way of life. Take a look out of your window any morning before work, you’ll see more and more people walking, running and cycling; if they’re putting that much effort into their health, you can be sure that it’s not the only thing they’re consciously doing to improve their lives.

According to research by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), 56 million consumers in the US, a massive 18% of the population, are LOHAS consumers and the market is estimated to be worth USD290 billion. Across Asia – the worlds fastest growing consumer market – the LOHAS movement is spreading rapidly amongst cultures who have lived with health and sustainability values, and the importance of balance, in their hearts for centuries. LOHAS Asia was set up in response to this movement, helping good companies grow alongside the Asian LOHAS community.

16% of Asian consumers, approx. 300 million people, are LOHASIANS. Ask a resident of one of Tokyo’s bustling city streets what LOHAS stands for and 70% of them will be able to answer correctly. No real surprises, then, why Coca Cola chose Japan to test launch their ‘I LOHAS’ mineral water in their cornstarch, eco-crush PlantBottle.

Across the rest of Asia, awareness of LOHAS is growing, and in China alone, the number of LOHAS consumers is estimated to be 110 million. As environmental concerns escalate, such as those associated with the recent choking smog in Beijing that led one US embassy employee to famously tweet the message “Crazy Bad” in one of their daily air quality posts, health and sustainability will only become more important factors influencing individuals’ consumption choices.

Sustainable product innovation is being driven by the enormous market opportunity that exists with Asian consumers and increasing numbers of LOHAS entrepreneurs are responding with new and exciting market disrupting businesses. LOHAS Asia has members with a widely diverse range of products like Shokay, a yak down fashion brand which supports the herding communities which supply the fiber, to Saught who makes jewelry forged from old Cambodian landmines while supporting mine clearance programs, and eco-friendly household cleaning products made exclusively from soapnuts, called Soapnut Republic. Last year LOHAS Asia provided funding for Arterro, a sustainable art company.

The investment community is studying these exciting developments with interest, looking for conscious capitalists who are aligning purpose with profit. These investors recognize that good businesses make good investments, music to the ears of LOHAS entrepreneurs looking to scale their business, but concerned that the cost of investment is a lessening of the values upon which their company was founded.

With LOHAS companies looking for investment and LOHAS investors desperate to find the best opportunities within the market place, we put together the LOHAS Accelerator program, a business incubator that brings LOHAS companies together with an extraordinary team of cross-industry experts from Accenture, Google, Ogilvy & Mather, Silicon Valley as well as some of our own successful LOHAS entrepreneurs.

The LOHAS Accelerator team provides LOHAS companies with all the training, advice and support their business needs to develop a business plan into an investment winning pitch ready to present to venture capital funds.

LOHAS companies that are based in Asia, or have an Asian element of their business (supply, production, plans for expansion) can apply to pitch their business to our panel of LOHAS investors. Provided they can make a captivating business case, they could receive investment of anywhere between USD50,000 to USD10 million.

I spoke to one of the LOHAS Accelerators consultants, Chen Ley Ong, a triple-bottom line Silicon Valley angel and Cradle Fund mentor, "It's exciting to be a part of LOHAS Accelerator program because it brings forth the new wave of entrepreneurship – enterprises with a mission that benefit society and environment, i.e. social enterprises. The traditional business model is no longer a sustainable option. The LOHAS Accelerator program prepares entrepreneurs to shape and grow their enterprises in a healthy and sustainable manner."

Our last round saw the successful investment of $100,000 in LOHAS Hub Member, Indosole, who craft a range of fashionable and functional footware from old motorbike tires, which are salvaged directly from landfills, sanitized, and then transformed by the Balinese community who make them. This investment has helped them transition to a larger production facility in Indonesia, allowing them to increase inventory, attract further investment and build their team of quality staff, brand awareness and sales.

“Application to the LOHAS Accelerator was one of the best business decisions I have ever made.” Kyle Parsons, founder of Indosole, “The process was smooth, comfortable and very supportive from start to finish. The LOHAS Accelerator gave me the ability to identify my business model and then put it into action with experienced and professional consultants from Accenture; and all for free! Fortunately for Indosole, we got the funding we needed to grow our business. Additionally, we gained a strategic partnership with a group of people who genuinely care and have the ability to take our business to the next level in SE Asia.”

These are truly exciting times for the LOHAS movement, the companies working for our planet as well as their profit margin and the consumers who are trying to live a little more LOHAS. The unique LOHAS Accelerator program links the new wave of social entrepreneurs to enlightened investors and the skills and experience of experts from some of the world’s top companies. If you are interested in learning more about the LOHAS Accelerator, either as a LOHAS business or a LOHAS investor, please contact Cissy from LOHAS Asia.

 

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 Trademarks of Conscious Capitalism

Sunday, February 24, 2013 by

Conscious CapitalismWhether you are a LOHAS company or a LOHAS shopper, you need to understand the megatrend of Conscious Capitalism—because it represents the larger economic context in which the critical trend of sustainability continues to unfold. If you are a values-driven consumer, you should learn how to identify a Conscious Capitalist company. Why? These are the firms you’ll most likely choose to patronize since they tend to espouse the same values that you do. As a company, you may want to measure your own standards against those of Conscious Capitalism. In this article, I describe what I call the three “Trademarks” of Conscious Capitalism.

The Stakeholder Model Conscious Capitalists embrace a philosophy of free enterprise that honors all the parties who contribute to the success of the enterprise. So, when leaders formulate corporate policies, they consider the interests of all “stakeholders”—employees, customers, suppliers, investors, communities, and ultimately the environment and the planet at large. By contrast, shareholder (or traditional) capitalists typically place the interests of investors over and above those of other stakeholders.

This is a critical distinction. But how does it play in business? Suppose a company’s sales and profits fall. That will probably displease investors. To make investors happy again, the company may decide to cut costs (aiming to increase profits) by laying off employees. Thus, the interests of investors supersede those of employees. That’s the Shareholder Model of capitalism.

Companies that champion the Stakeholder Model might well make another choice. For example, during the Great Recession, The Container Store (TCS) faced dwindling sales, like many other retailers. Yet the company, a prominent Conscious Capitalist, took a different path from that of traditional capitalism. Specifically, TCS adopted a “no lay-off” policy. But how, you might ask, was the company financially able to endure the continued cost of employee salaries at a time when sales and profits were slumping? The answer is balance. The Container Store found a new way to cut costs: it temporarily suspended matching contributions to employee 401K accounts. This policy proved far more acceptable to TCS staff than losing their jobs. And once sales again picked up, 401K matching benefits were back on.

As this example illustrates, the Stakeholder Model of Conscious Capitalism is neither vague, nor ideological. It holds clear operational implications for how a corporation is managed, how people are treated, and how a corporation can choose to generate economic value.

One might be tempted to assume that the Shareholder Model, i.e. putting investors first, delivers greater financial value to investors. In fact, traditional capitalists frequently make that very argument. But as you’ll see from the research cited in this article’s conclusion, Conscious Capitalists often outperform their traditional counterparts—in strictly financial terms.

A Purpose Higher Than Profit Despite their commitment to humanistic principles, Conscious Capitalists very much aim to earn solid profits. But unlike traditional capitalists, they do not consider profit to be the reason for their existence, or purpose. Instead, they choose a purpose that beyond the necessity of earning money, a “higher” purpose such as to “make a difference,” or “contribute to society” or to “sell products that foster good health and sustain the earth’s resources.” So, this Higher Purpose is the second trademark of Conscious Capitalism.

In fact, business always has a purpose beyond making money, specifically to fulfill some sort of unmet need. The heart of any commercial transaction is therefore to generate an exchange that is mutually beneficial. While capitalism celebrates the capacity to earn profit, it is purpose that infuses that profit with the profound mutuality and satisfaction.

A Commitment to Human Values In a world where people and companies alike are tossed about by a variety of intense and conflicting forces, we all need an inner compass to help us make the right choices, those that take us from where we are now to where we want to be in the future. In business as well as personal life, strong values supply the most reliable guidance and direction. The third trademark of Conscious Capitalism is a Commitment to Human Values.

Walk into any shop or store. Almost instantly you can get a very good read on the values practiced there. When values are lacking, you will almost certainly find a poor work environment, one that breeds boredom, gossip, and inattention to customers. On the other hand, when positive values are honored, it’s palpable. You feel and see it in the positive behavior of the staff.

The internet sales giant eBay, for example, is built entirely upon the value of trust. Early on, founder Pierre Omidyar posted this statement on the website: “We believe people are basically good.” Trust became the core of eBay’s policies and eBay technology reinforced that trust, so that considerably less than one percent of eBay transactions result in fraud.

What’s the Bottom Line?

            To the surprise of many, the Trademarks of Conscious Capitalism generate superior financial performance. Raj Sisodia, marketing professor at Bentley College and a co-author of Firms of Endearment with David Wolfe and Jagdish Sheth, studied 28 companies, including Google, Whole Foods, and Honda, whose managements fostered positive relationships with employees, customers, and investors. Over a ten-year period, the stock of these Conscious Capitalists soared 1,025 percent—versus 122 percent for the S&P 500. A second, decade-long study showed that public firms that are “great places to work” outperformed the S&P 500 by a very wide margin.

These studies show that when business possess the values, wisdom, and consciousness to appreciate that employees, customers, suppliers, and not just investors, contribute to the overall success of the enterprise, companies can achieve profound and sustainable success.

 

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 (EMBED Link for Megatrends 2010: http://www.amazon.com/Megatrends-2010-Rise-Conscious-Capitalism/dp/1571745394/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353425143&sr=1-2 ), launched a business revolution. Patricia’s new book, Conscious Money: Living, Creating, and Investing with Your Values for A Sustainable New Prosperity, published in 2012, is a finalist is the Green category for the “Books for a Better Life Award.” Read Chapter one of Conscious Money at http://www.beyondword.com/consciousmoney/index.html. Patricia was named one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Behavior” and serves as an Ambassador of the Conscious Capitalist Institute. Patricia’s journalism career began at Forbes magazine and she was a public policy follow at Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA. Her website is patriciaaburdene.com.

 

 

Why Spontaneous Kindness Feels So Sexy

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 by

The Dalai Lama says kindness is his religion. Wikipedia says that a random act of kindness is: "…a selfless act performed by a person or persons wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual... There will generally be no reason other than to make people smile or be happier."

Being sexy means something is delicious, fun, delightful, it makes us feel good with a smile in our heart. Put that together with kindness, and we have the ultimate feel good action!

We first heard the saying practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty, many years ago when we were at Findhorn, the renowned spiritual community in Scotland. But there can be some confusion about this: perhaps the receiver of the kindness might not appreciate it, it might make them apprehensive or distrustful in some way. Sadly, this seems to speak more about the suspicious world we live in than about the nature of kindness. If there is such wariness then what is needed are more acts of kindness done by more of us, not less.

Perhaps it is the use of the world random that is misleading, and that it would be easier if we used the word spontaneous instead. Spontaneity means we are acting on an impulse, in the moment, freely; we are moved to do something for someone without any thought of receiving something in return. Such behavior is surely the ground of a healthy and joyful society, where we happily give of ourselves to help another and such an act is happily received.

Be generous. Give to those you love; give to those who love you, give to the fortunate, give to the unfortunate -- yes, give especially to those you don't want to give to. You will receive abundance for your giving. The more you give, the more you will have! -- W. Clement Stone

What stops us from acting this way? Invariably it is our own insecurities, lack of self-esteem and self-love, doubts and inadequacies. And the same qualities also stop us from being able to freely receive. If we feel unworthy then we believe we have nothing to give; if we don't love ourselves then we don't trust why someone would be kind to us. We fear that if someone gives without reason that they actually want something from us, or that they have an ulterior motive.

If we feel uncomfortable with generosity we can get stuck in uncertainty, fear or unworthiness. When we doubt ourselves we fall into an endless pit of self -denigration. When we appreciate the beauty of kindness it takes us out of such self-centeredness; it enables us to let go of self-centeredness and to freely reach out to each other. We can both give and receive. Such egoless moments are exquisite!

Giving spontaneously can have a remarkable affect on all those who come in contact with it. For instance, HuffPost blogger Arthur Rosenfield was in the drive-thru line at Starbucks. The man in line behind him was getting impatient and angry, leaning on his horn and shouting insults at both Arthur and the Starbucks workers. Beginning to get angry himself, Arthur chose to keep his cool and change the negativity into something positive. He paid for the man’s coffee and drove away. By the time he got home at the end of the day, he discovered he had started a chain of giving that had not only continued all that day but had been highlighted on NBC News and within twenty-four hours had spread around the world on the Internet.

Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. Scott Adams

Can you imagine a world where no one gave to each other? Where we all just looked after our own needs but ignored everyone else's? This would surely be a miserable place to live, for ultimately, whether spontaneous or planned, we cannot be happy without being kind, by giving and caring for each other.

Spontaneous kindness is essential to our wellbeing, it liberates us from self-obsession, selfishness, and isolation. True generosity is giving without expectation, with no need to be repaid in any form. This is the most powerful, unconditional, and unattached act of generosity, free to land wherever it will.

Being kind can be as simple as smiling. As Mahatma Gandhi said, Almost anything we do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that we do it.

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Enjoy our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, foreword by the Dalai Lama.

Our 3 meditation CD's: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: http://www.edanddebshapiro.com
 

8 Ways To Keep Your Stress Levels Down At Work

Friday, January 25, 2013 by

work stressMany people underestimate the effects of work related stress but it can cause many detrimental issues. Stress can affect your job performance. This may even become a vicious cycle of more stress if you receive poor evaluations from your supervisor and/or you are passed over for promotions. Stress can also seriously impact your health. It is well known that stress weakens the immune system making you more susceptible to catching the flu and other diseases. It also puts you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Work related stress can bleed over into other areas of your life too such as negatively affecting the relationship you have with your family and friends.

Reduce Stress Before You Go To Work

If you are already stressed out when you get to work, things that would normally not bother you at work may stress you out. Therefore, it is important to develop strategies for reducing your stress level before you get to work. 5-10 minutes of exercise can work wonders. Listening to your favorite music as you travel to work can also help a lot. You may want to learn some basic deep breathing yoga techniques and practice these a few minutes before you step into the workplace.

Define Your Job's Expectations More Clearly

Studies have shown that a significant source of stress in the workplace is due to uncertain job expectations. This type of uncertainty can prevent you from knowing if you have performed well on your job even when you are trying very hard to do so. The best way to eliminate this source of stress if to talk candidly with your supervisor and make sure that you clearly agree on what's expected from you.

Avoid Workplace Conflict

Interpersonal conflicts between co-workers is another significant source of job related stress. You can take steps to minimize these conflicts by being careful about how you interact with your co-workers. For example, you can avoid controversial topics of conversation such as political or religious issues. Also, while it is perfectly acceptable to joke around with your co-workers, be sure not to take the jokes too far as this could cause misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Be Nice To Your Co-Workers

Building on the old adage, "You can catch more flies with honey," making a special effort to be nice to your co-workers can create a more amicable work environment with less stress. This does not mean that you have to fake it. Just make an effort to treat your co-workers with kindness and respect. Genuine compliments are remembered for a long time. Kind gestures such as bringing in fresh vegetables from your garden to share or perhaps providing fresh cut flowers for the break room or your co-workers' desks can also help create a pleasant stress free work environment.

Keep Your Workspace Well Organized

If your personal workspace is cluttered and disorganized, this will be a source of stress. The good news is you have control over this source of stress and you can remedy it yourself. If you use a computer at work, making sure your desktop and your file structure is organized will also help reduce stress.

Find Ways To Reduce Physical Pain

Physical pain in the workplace is quite common and can create mental stress without you even realizing it. If have a desk job, your chair may cause back pain, neck pain, and discomfort in other areas of your body`. You can reduce this pain by replacing your desk chair with one that is more ergonomic or perhaps just adjusting the one you have. Sometimes, changing the height or angle of your computer monitor can be very helpful. If you stand a lot on the job, make sure you have an ergonomic mat under your feet to reduce the pressure on your feet, knees, and hips. If your job entails repetitive motions, make sure you take enough breaks and/or determine if you can perform the same task with a slightly different motion. Eye strain is also common in the workplace. Occasionally re-focusing your eyes on a distant object can help minimize this problem.

Make the Most Of Your Breaks

This importance of this point cannot be over emphasized. Even if you only have a 15-minute break or a half hour for lunch, there are things you can do during that time that will greatly lower your stress at work. If your job is sedentary, try doing something physical on your breaks. If nothing else, take a brisk walk. If you can find the space, you can do some simple exercises. Find ways to de-stress and get totally away from your work environment, even if this just means going out to your car, closing your eyes, and listening to your favorite music. You may also want to find a simple respite a short distance away from the workplace such as feeding the birds or just walking a block and  filling your lungs with fresh air.

Take a Professional Stress Management Course

Taking a professional stress management course can help you in a number of ways. Many people do not recognize the early signs of stress. A professional stress management course can help you learn to recognize the early signs of stress and deal with them effectively so they don't fester and grow into bigger problems. A professional stress management course can also help develop a custom plan to deal with your specific source(s) of work related stress.

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.
 

2013 LOHAS Marketing Megatrends

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 by

In the “better, but not booming” economy many predict in 2013, shoppers will focus more than ever on what they care about most deeply. So human values will increasingly shape their spending agenda. At the same time, new trends and priorities will inspire consumers to find new ways to take their values shopping. In addition to their abiding commitment to Health and Sustainability, values-driven shoppers will honor values like Transparency, Justice, Peace, and the more practical value of Frugality. Look for these trends to gain traction in 2013:

Non-violence Emerges as Top Value. In 2013 Peace and Non-violence will increasingly shape our financial choices. After the Newtown, CT massacre, a CBS poll found an 18-percent increase in people who favor tougher gun restrictions. This year powerful investors (i.e. the California teachers pension fund) have already sold weapons stocks. There are new consumer calls to boycott sporting goods stores that sell guns. In 2006, Walmart banned gun sales, but reintroduced them in 2011 to boost weak sales. “Boycott Walmart” initiatives now appear on Facebook.

Fair Trade Takes Off. Fair Trade (FT for short) consumers voluntarily pay a little bit more to endorse the value of social justice for farmers and artisans in developing countries. Result: Fair Trade is trending toward $5 billion global market. Fair Trade USA’s “Fair Trade Finder” mobile app helps consumers find FT products.

Third Party Verification Rules. Conscious shoppers favor products bearing a seal or certification from a reputable organization. LOHAS shoppers—80 percent of them—want trusted, independent sources to verify corporate product claims and 40 percent of all shoppers demand a seal or certification, reports a study by the Natural Marketing Institute.

Old-fashioned and Green Cleaning Products Rock. As green cleaners like Method, Seventh Generation, and Green Works gain market share over traditional labels, most mainstream cleaning brands (except Clorox and S C Johnson) still refuse to disclose chemical ingredients, despite pressure from consumers and activists. Meanwhile LOHAS shoppers enthusiastically embrace Grandma’s non-toxic—and ridiculously inexpensive—baking soda and vinegar. Great Recession helped us discover joy of frugality, but it’s unlikely we’ll abandon it as the economy picks up.

If there were a motto for 2013’s consumer spending mood, it might be: “Conspicuous consumption is gone for good; but discerning, values-driven spending never goes out of style.” Key words such as quality, meaning, simplicity, peace, economical, and local aptly describe the value propositions that will encourage shoppers to open their wallet in 2013. Time was, marketers asked, “Who is my consumer?” and defined consumer identity in strict demographic terms. But those who seek to build enduring relationships with LOHAS consumers must instead ask, “What are her values?” then cultivate a strategy for reaching said consumer by authentically embodying her values in all branding messages. 

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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.

 

For more information go to- www.GreenMoney.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.

 

LOHAS Forum 2012: NativeEnergy Releases CO2 Report

Friday, October 5, 2012 by

>> Download the 2012 LOHAS Forum CO2 Report

The annual LOHAS conference is one that I look forward to. LOHAS is an acronym for lifestyles of health and sustainability. It refers to the substantial market for products and services, ethically delivered, for consumers especially concerned about wellness and corporate responsibility. It is the market at “the Intersection of Personal and Planetary Heath,” as Gwynne Rogers of the Natural Marketing Institute put it.

LOHAS attracts the friendliest assemblage of conferees I have encountered. Perhaps it is all the yoga and healthy eating that makes attendees so cordial. Perhaps it is their determination to make the world a better place. Often when people advocate “change,” what they mean is the other guy should change. At LOHAS, the notion of change is often aimed at oneself.

LOHAS features talented business leaders like Kevin Rutherford, CEO of Mrs. Meyers, and Kim Coupounas, co-founder of GoLite, sharing insights. Douglas Gayeton, author of the Lexicon of Sustainability, is using the power of words to “activate change and transform societies.” His vehicles include billboards, social media, pop up shows, and PBS short films.

And this year, as in previous years, marketing experts, like Suzanne Shelton of the Shelton Group, dissected the “green market” and offered useful counsel on how to attack it. For example, inspire don’t educate. Don’t make the problem seem so big an individual can’t do something about it.

Personal conviction is the trump card at LOHAS, and it this seems to explains the abounding goodwill at the conference.

The conference was held in Boulder, Colorado, which is one of those supremely livable small cities and thus an appealing destination. We were there just before the forest fires arrived. The Mountain West is dry country and, to my thinking, increasingly vulnerable to climate change.

This year, as in previous years, NativeEnergy was the carbon offset sponsor, providing offsets from our signature Help Build™ projects to balance the greenhouse gas pollution from conference-related travel, lodging, and operations.

>> Download the 2012 LOHAS Forum CO2 Report

 

About NativeEnergy
NativeEnergy is an expert provider of carbon offsets, renewable energy credits, and carbon accounting software. With NativeEnergy’s Help Build™ offsets, businesses and individuals can help finance the construction of wind, biogas, solar, and other carbon reduction projects with strong social and environmental benefits. Since 2000, NativeEnergy’s customers have helped build over 50 projects, reducing more than 2.5 million tons of greenhouse gases, and the company has over 4 million tons under contract. All NativeEnergy carbon offsets undergo third-party validation and verification. Learn more at www.nativeenergy.com.

Students Unite for the "Real Food Challenge"

Thursday, September 27, 2012 by

Pizza, beer, ramen noodles—yep that about sums up the diet of a typical college student these days. Short on both cash and time, students take what they can get in the way of sustenance, no matter how bad for them it really is. The more we learn about nutrition and our bodies, the more we realize just how damaging habits such as these are. Sure, it's likely that these are only temporary routines that will eradicate themselves upon graduation, but there's a chance they won't. And then what are we left with? A society of out-of-shape, malnourished individuals eating themselves into an early grave.

Luckily, knowledge is indeed proving powerful as more and more students and individuals everywhere are taking a stand against this less than beneficial trend. One example of this is the Real Food Challenge in which numerous students are participating.

Serving as both a campaign and a network, the challenge's main mission is to increase the procurement of, and therefore availability of, real food on college and university campuses everywhere. They have set a national goal to hit 20% real food by 2020, which will hopefully then make waves for the food industry as a whole, as it's obviously not a problem on just the college level.

What is "Real Food"?

It's believed that presently less than 2% of our nation's food economy consists of "real food"—a problem that must be corrected if we hope to see any real change as a society. But what exactly is this "real food" about which everyone's talking?

Known as other names as well such as "slow," "local," or "green," real food is food that is humane, local, ecologically sound and fair. It is not artificial in any way and generally makes a trip straight from the farm to plate. There is no intricate processing involved, it's just good old fashioned nourishing sustenance—a far cry from the processed junk that makes up so much of our diet these days.

How Does the Challenge Work

From the development of college farms, fair trade initiatives and "Farm-to-cafeteria" programs, many institutions of higher learning are making conscious changes for the future. Currently, the challenge's organizers have coordinated informational summits, trainings, and campus visits to spread awareness of their cause.

Currently, over 360 schools across the country are participating, and as student leaders and campaign directors continue their efforts that number is only expected to grow. While it may not seem like the participants are doing much, taking the time and investing the effort to get the word out is what needs to happen at this point. People have to first be informed before they can make smarter decisions—and that's the primary driving force behind this initiative's organizers.

Getting the next generation of leaders and policy makers involved is crucial to making and long-term, substantial change, hence the importance of starting this on the college front.

Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger who loves writing about education, writing, and health. As an education writer, she works to provide helpful information on the best online colleges and courses. She welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99 @gmail.com.

The Environmental Crisis and the LOHAS Revolution

Friday, August 3, 2012 by

The environmental problems we face as a society are so vast. How can we personally connect with these problems? By getting out of our heads and returning to the body, we can see that body links us with the world outside ourselves. We need to turn off the televisions sets and turn off our minds and feel the connection we have with the world around us. There is a problem right now in the world and it is our duty, right now, as human beings to address this problem.

The climate change crisis is really an opportunity to truly connect with the world around us, an opportunity to enhance our mental health by stepping out of alienation and aimlessness. For too long, we have been disconnected from our bodies, each other and our environment, but now, mindfulness in the present moment provides a road to connect outside ourselves to this crisis we all face. The present moment is a highway to connection. Only here and now we can we connect outside ourselves because the past and future are mere concepts. Only here and now, can we disregard assumptions rooted in the past so we can contend with future challenges.

And what are those challenges? Climate change imperils our future right now, but that future can be salvaged if we all work together. Being present right now carries high stakes for the health of our environment and for a our mental health. We do face a crisis of meaning in our culture and the solution to that crisis is combating climate change. If life today has meaning, that meaning is fueled by the existential crisis that climate change is becoming. If we are protecting the earth’s sustainability for future generations, then our life has meaning because we are acting in connection with others and the natural world that has made all our lives possible.

And what about the LOHAS revolution? The LOHAS revolution shows us that the climate change crisis is not just a moral, political and intellectual crisis, but a spiritual and emotional one rooted in connectedness. For too long, we have been cut off from other people and the world that surrounds us. More than just political change, Lifestyles in Health and Sustainability require a change in consciousness, a change in how we perceive the relationship of our self with the world.  Sustainability is more than just a set of policies, it is a spiritual principal that colors life with meaning. LOHAS is a means of using the climate change crisis as an engine of spiritual renewal. It is an opportunity to lift up our society from despair, nihilism and isolation and become immersed in connectedness and responsibility.

 

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


 

The Plastic Bag Blind Spot

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 by

plastic bag wasteThe plastic bag has become the poster child of our wasteful consumerist society: after its short use, we throw it ‘away’ where it pollutes the environment and takes decades to degrade.

Different approaches have been used to eliminate plastic bag use. In the UK, it is left to the voluntary action of consumers and retailers. Ireland and Denmark prefer a tax. Other countries, such as parts of the U.S., South Africa, Bangladesh and India have installed bag bans. In the U.S. there are 24 communities with plastic bag bans, most of them in California. In Bangladesh and India bags were banned out of necessity: bags were clogging the sewer systems and exacerbating floods.

However, these campaigns are focused on large grocery bags. They leave out an important type of bag use: the single use HDPE bag. More simply put: those little bags you use to put your veggies and fruits in at the supermarket, or the bags that are wrapped around your favorite Thai takeaway dinner.

These bags are such a blind spot for municipalities that it is nearly impossible to find data about their use. Only Australians seem to record this information:

“In 2007, Australians used 3.9 billion lightweight single use high density polyethylene (HDPE) bags. 2.96 billion of these came from supermarkets” and “In 2005, Australians used 192 HDPE bags per capita.”

If these are the numbers for Australia, can you imagine the numbers for the US?

Not so long ago it was impossible to think that plastic grocery bags wouldn’t be a part of the supermarket scene. Currently many customers bring their own bags – and have fun doing it. The bag has become a fashion statement of a consious lifestyle.

If you can bring your own grocery bags to the supermarket, how about taking the small but revolutionary step of bringing reusable bags for fresh produce too?

Making Banks Work for the 99%

Friday, March 30, 2012 by

….”[earth] has, or had, a problem which was this: Most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper… which is odd, because on the whole, it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy…”
— Douglas Adams

the 99 percentThe recent financial crisis has been a credit crisis, and in response the government and the Federal Reserve have taken an active role in increasing the money supply to manipulate business cycles. The surges and contractions of the business cycles cause fluctuations in the economy, and thus in employment. In this way these fluctuations are felt in every aspect of society. We take these cycles as a given. However, in Ecological Economics Herman Daly and Joshua Farley (2008) put forward an interesting idea: the fluctuations in the economy are caused by the design of the monetary system, and not by law of necessity. By decoupling business cycles from the circulation of money these ups and downs can be avoided.

Currently the worldwide money supply is tightly linked to investment cycles. Business has its natural cycles, but the linkage of these cycles to the money supply by means of lending and borrowing causes a self-reinforcing feedback loop: when investment goes down, spending goes down, causing a decrease in the money supply, which will further decrease investments, and so on. Daly and Farley have a novel proposition: ‘there is no reason why the monetary system must be linked with the private commercial activity of lending and borrowing’.

Let’s imagine a world where the monetary system is decoupled from the activity of lending and borrowing. Money will be treated as a public good that facilitates exchanges within the economy. The government can match the supply based on for instance, consumer price indexes. A beneficial side effect is that inflation will be easier to control. The reserve requirements of banks will be 100%. Banks will make money by charging for services they provide and by borrowing and lending real money instead of by creating it.

What effects will such a decoupling have? Currently, the financial sector has a disproportionate size compared to the real sector: the size of the real sector is roughly $30 trillion per year, whereas the trade in money, with no intervening commodity is almost $2 trillion per day. The financial sector should be in service of the real economy, and a decoupling of the money supply from investments will support this.

With investments recoupled to the real economy – making economic profit based on increased production capacity by means of investments- the focus on how to make economic rents will shift.  Currently profits are made by moving paper around. With the financial sector recoupled to the economic sector it will become more important to make profits in the real economy. Introduction of a 100% reserve requirement will bring investors closer to their investments. It is only make-believe, but it is interesting to think of what implications this will have for business. With rents primarily to be made in the real sector instead of the financial, how will this affect the organization and management of business?

The current design of the economy and its institutions, banks and business, make up a system that is unstable, unpredictable and uncontrollable. After the crisis in 2008 most agreed that things needed to change. Yet most has returned to business as usual. The necessity for change has not eroded. Exploring this possibility of decoupling the monetary system from private lending may be a perfect solution to many of our economic problems.

Based on:

Daly, H., & Farley, J. (2007). Ecological Economics. Principles and Applications. Dehli: Island Press.

The Future Looks Bright - Depending on who You Ask

Thursday, March 22, 2012 by

One of my most favorite talks from last year's LOHAS Forum was from futurist John Petersen. I had met John in Shanghai at a Chinese LOHAS Forum and was quite impressed with what he has to say. I asked him what exactly makes up a futurist and he told me his job is to look at all kinds of things - galactic movements, cultural shifts, sublte energies, economics - pretty much everything, and see if there are patterns and relationships. Past patterns are also indications of what is to be expected in the future and to be a successful futurist one cannot rule out anything that the general public may dismiss. Sounds like an interesting job description. I asked him how he uses his skills for employment and he told me that a variety of governments use his findings for a variety of things such as defense planning or disaster preparation. Singapore hired him to develop a 'Suprise Anticpation' project for thier country so they would be prepared for everything ranging from an invasion to upprising to even aliens landing. Because of his broad scope and perspective we thought it would be great to have him present at LOHAS. Here is a clip on part of his talk.

He brings into the climate change conversation a much larger perspective that cosmic rays which bombard the planet are the main reason for the shifts in climate and that we should expect more as sun spots are on the rise. He also states that the cosmic rays are causing mutations through subtle radiation. This can raise alarms or it can also explain the lift in consciousness throughout global society. Are we to become superheros or toxic avengers? Only time will tell.

 

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

What you measure matters

Monday, March 5, 2012 by

 

There is a Image courtesy of http://www.dans-plan.com/new phenomenon occurring in our modern culture, known officially as the quantified-self movement.  Whether it be daily calories eaten, steps walked or even hours slept… we are becoming scientists within the "self" universe.
There are new findings about what shifts behavior change and so much of it focuses on the old adage of, what you measure matters.  Plus there are new modern tools to help us track and measure the data from our daily experiences. It allows us to plan, reflect and thus... change.  

 

 

Health and Fitness
We are beginning to witness the futuristic adoption of wearing body monitors to help us collect information. Products like the FitBit and Nike's new Fuel Band, can even tell you how much you are sleeping at night (due to a lack of movement activity).  The FitBit not only has wireless sync capability, but is now linked to Foursquare the largest mobile "check-in" site in the country.  Consider this, now you can track how many steps you took to walk to your local farmers market, and then share what you bought there with millions of people.  We are becoming data aggregators and sponsoring companies love us for it.  Partner companies can see our patterns to find new ways to incentivize us.  These new devices allow us insight into our own habit patterns and hold the promise of personal evolution.   

Lifestyle Goals
Have you played with your kids today, done yoga, walked your dog or simply felt compassionate today?  Well, Daily Feats, a new startup company based out of NYC (of all places), can help you track it all.  Their website and related mobile app allows you to set specific goals to meet a variety of personal lifestyle activities. Based on your personal preferences you can select hundreds of activities called "Feats" to track your lifestyle goals all in one place.  This model then provides you with a life score from 0-5, with 5 being a perfect superhuman-enlightened being (sadly I am only at 1.6, but just getting starting). With the ability to sign-in to this service via Facebook, Foursquare, email and now SMS text you can even link your "Feats" with friends online.  The SMS option is most powerful since over 97% of people read their texts (only 4% read emails now)… it is a proven new communication tool.

Conscious Living
This new trend gets into us … literally, it tracks what we eating daily and how it relates to our overall health. Start-up's like Dan's Plan use the motto, "Helping you achieve optimal health in a modern world"… with the emphasis on optimal and modern.  This platform allows you to collect data from a variety of new devices for capturing your ideal eating, restorative sleeping and enduring movement goals to reach an ideal.  Since, "our modern world fosters a lifestyle that leads to poor health," we have to take responsibility for it in our daily activities.   Real Mealz (currently in Beta) is another SF startup company that has realized if you simply cook more, you could be healthier. They have collected a spectrum of great organic recipes that help you include existing kitchen items and even take photos of your meals for nutritional analysis later on. All of this promises a life of greater awareness for the changes we seek within ourselves, our families and our greater impact on the world around us.  

Now is the time, as there are few valid excuses not to take action around your personal goals.  With the assistance of mobile apps, tracking websites, wi-fi devices and personalized support structures all around us I ask… so what will you measure?  

About the author: Jared Brick is an MBA business student from the Presidio Graduate School in SF.  He is currently developing a business model to track and incentivize reusables in the retail environment.  To learn more please email him at jared (at) traxactions.com or follow him on twitter: jaredbrick Thanks for sharing this article.