BOULDER, CO - When's the last time you attended a conference and one of the keynote speakers was only 16 years old? This was but one of the thought-provoking subject matter experts we were treated to at the 14th annual LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) Conference, held at the super green St. Julien Hotel here.
Child prodigy Alec Loorz, age 16, gave us hope for the current generation as they will be the first Americans to really grow up on green. He reminded us not to be too preachy to our kids, yet in my view was a bit fatalistic in tone himself, as in, "if we don't all go green the planet will end...." Either way, a provocative presentation and thesis from a gifted young man.
Another top notch keynote came from Suzanne Shelton, a green advertising expert who was armed with relevant data. Did you realize that:
- Consumers don't go green to save the planet. They are motivated by the same things that cause them to buy "regular" products. For comfort, convenience, aesthetics and saving money -- surprise, the same reasons they buy most products and services;
- Home health is also a key driver, keeping toxins away from children and making healthy choices for the family are also highly ranked motivators;
- How do people determine if a product is green? They get their info from labels and look for third party verification;
- How do customers evaluate whether a company is truly green? First, if they recycle company-wide. Next, if they eliminate toxic chemicals from the manufacturing process. Third, if their facilities run on renewable energy;
- And finally, getting kids talking to their parents about change is powerful - 68% of adults say they have adjusted their buying habits because of their kids' encouragement.
I spoke on social networking in the green space, which was a very popular subject, we had an overflow crowd. My presenting partner was Mallika Chopra, author and blogger extraordinaire who happens to be the daughter of spirituality and wellness guru Deepak Chopra. I gave an overview of how to build and maintain a successful blog (by the way, "My Inner Green" also appears on LOHAS.com in addition to HuffPo and SIerraClubGreenHome.com), and Mallika talked about the role of social responsibility in the blogging community. Her site is called Intent.com, give it a visit, and of course, follow me at SCGH.com or on Facebook and Twitter. Lots of questions from aspiring bloggers. A lively discussion and a great audience ranging from early 20s to 60+.
LOHAS founder and organizer Ted Ning was very pleased with this year's conference, as attendance held about even in a recession year. Participants came from as far away as Singapore, Australia, Peru and France, among others. Key sponsors were Mohawk Flooring, makers of bamboo and other sustainable materials, and Icestone, maker of recycled countertops and related materials.
Boulder Colorado itself is a perfect setting for LOHAS. One of the first cities in the world to be truly green, Boulder is a pioneer and leader in all things sustainable. The St. Julien Hotel is one of the first and best green hotels in America, leaving no stone unturned in its construction, operations and food and beverage service to be a top to bottom sustainable organization.
Overall, LOHAS does not have the corporate heavy hitters I met at Fortune Brainstorm Green or the Dow Jones Eco-Nomics conference. It does, however, provide a true cross section of leading green citizens from all walks of life, all meeting to exchange ideas and promote sustainability. A worthwhile event indeed.