June 17, 2008

Sustainability Top of Mind at LOHAS

By Alicia Wallace, Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.

Jun. 17--Companies such as Mercedes-Benz, L'Oreal, Wal-Mart, Gaiam, Horizon Organic and Whole Foods might not appear to have that much in common.

But in one way or another, they all are part of the LOHAS -- or Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability -- market.

From Wednesday through Saturday, about 500 people from those companies and many other businesses and institutions will attend the sold-out LOHAS 12 Forum at the St. Julien Hotel & Spa in Boulder.

The 12th annual conference -- which is back in Colorado after a four-year stint in Los Angeles -- is a gathering and networking event designed to help businesses from a variety of industries further embody health and sustainability ideals and business practices, said Ted Ning, director of LOHAS and executive editor of LOHAS Journal.

It's an event filled with panels that range from socially responsible entrepreneurship and socially conscious funding to the value of organics and how Whole Foods and Wal-Mart are using sustainability in their businesses.

"We're not about fighting the trenches and keeping the gates," Ning said. "We're not gatekeepers. We consider this conference to be bridge-building."

This year's conference will be of special importance to members of the $209 billion LOHAS market, Ning said, adding that he believes there is an incredible amount of "green-washing" occurring in the business world. Companies may be touting that their products are "green" and natural, but that's not necessarily the case, he said.

Consumer consciousness is increasing, but so is confusion, he said, adding that it is up to businesses to make strides in sustainability and environmental consciousness in response.

Aveda Corp. founder Horst Rechelbacher recently embarked on another startup called Intelligent Nutrients to help increase awareness that health and body care products can be certified organic and completely free of petrochemicals and other synthetic products.

"I just have basically reinvented myself," Rechelbacher said. "I have always thought activism, it's good for spirituality. It's good that you talk about it, but it's even better if you do something about it."

Rechelbacher will be speaking at the LOHAS 12 Forum; hold a book-signing Thursday at the Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl St.; and stay through the weekend to attend and present at The Organic Summit next week in Boulder.


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