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Capitalism Is Alive and Well in the Green Community

Even though it may have become a dirty word in some circles and protest rallies, I am very pleased and proud to say that making a profit is no longer considered an ethics violation within the green community. At least not for the majority of people who attended the recent 2012 LOHAS Forum held in beautiful Boulder, Colorado.

In case you are not familiar with the organization, LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability. Ted Ning, the Executive Director of LOHAS, invited me to participate in a panel discussion of sustainable packaging and I quickly accepted, but quite frankly, I was not sure what to expect.

I think most of us have attended a green gathering or two where the primary purpose of the attendees was either to bash someone or something or to promote their personal cause. “Save the ______” (insert favorite cause here) has been the typical rallying cry with few solutions offered and often times accompanied by a large dose of guilt for those who dare attempt to make a living doing what we do.

This is not at all an attempt to trivialize or minimize the serious problems we all face or the passionate people determined to end them. However, I have always felt the first step in being an environmentally or socially responsible and sustainable business is to be an economically sustainable business. Unfortunately, as we have all learned in the last few years, a good green company that goes out of business does not do anyone any good. Gratefully the primarily B2B crowd at LOHAS realizes this and does everything they can to help other green and health focused businesses grow and prosper.

A Few of the LOHAS Presentations I’m glad I Caught

–Make it Personal, Make it Stick: Creating a Culture of Sustainability

Presented by Hunter Lovins, President and Founder, Natural Capitalism Solution – one of my favorite presentations filled with truth and creativity.

–The Redeeming Power of Capitalism

This was a terrific panel discussion that included Bryan Welch of Ogden Publications and Kim Coupounas the CEO of GoLite.

–The Future of Food

This was another excellent panel discussion with representatives from Fresca Brands, Demeter USA, Good Belly/White Wave Foods, Horizon Dairy. Honestly, this was a presentation I found much more interesting than I ever anticipated.

Can Big Business Be Part of the Solution?

The reoccurring theme we heard in several of the presentations and discussions is that big business MUST be part of the solution. To correct the many problems that concern and impact each one of us, major corporations are in a unique position to help solve them because they have the economic and political clout to make it happen. Our job is to make sure we communicate what is important to us so their marketing, social, and lobbying efforts are aimed in the right direction.

Has the Green Movement Matured?

In my opinion, the green movement has indeed matured to the age of wisdom but definitely not to the point of saturation. In other words, I think we have all finally realized and accepted the fact that we (green minded) individuals are still by far the minority and we must get smarter about the way we sell our LOHAS type products and services, if we hope to convert the majority.

I think most agree the current economic recession has slowed down green interest on Main Street but that same recession may prove to be our greatest ally because it has forced us from banners and slogans to focusing where our customers’ minds are which is on cost and economics. The overall value of green products continues to improve and buyers are converted on a daily basis because green makes sense and saves money.

I met a lot of passionate people at the LOHAS Forum but most of them were also incredibly smart. Some of us went to Boulder to teach and found we learned much more than we ever expected to.

I would encourage you to attend a LOHAS Regional Event or at least visit their website. You may discover it is a great place to meet like-minded individuals who are creating the “new green economy” from the inside out.

Dennis writes in the area of sustainable packaging with his work appearing in numerous blogs and magazines, including his own blog, Inside Sustainable Packaging. Dennis and his company provide custom eco friendly packaging solutions through Salazar Packaging and stock green packaging products via GlobeGuardProducts, which is the first internet store featuring all eco-friendly packaging supplies. Recently Dennis also made news by launching GreenPackagingGroup, which is a B2B packaging blog and directory for eco-minded buyers. He is president and co-founder of Salazar Packaging.

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