As I write this, I have just left the LOHAS conference in Boulder, CO. I left the event early after really struggling with the sessions. I’m not quite sure why, but one thing has become clear to me: the overly idealistic message and tone of the conversations haven’t changed. It’s still “ Big Is Bad”, “Don’t Sell Out”, and paradoxically, “Why Aren’t The Big Companies Represented Here”?!
Typical was this question from the opening panel: “Would you sell your product at Walmart”? I felt like saying to the goup: “Come on! Walmart has done more for environmental sustainability than this entire group of participants combined!” For example, Wal-Mart offers its customers affordable organic cotton clothing items that you simply won’t find at other stores- even the “elite” ones.
The truth is, it sounds like the same exact rhetoric I heard a decade ago — the old saying, “same circus, different clowns”, kept coming to my mind. And as I am flying home a little disappointed, I remember how much I have enjoyed these conferences in the past. So why not this one? I think it is the frank realization that they’re making no real progress in changing consumers’ behavior as it relates to the environmental impact of their actions.
I’m about making real change, and the tone of these discussions has to be much different if they are ever going to succeed in making a difference. We need to embrace the Big Companies as well the nimble little ones. We’re all part of the problem, we need to all be part of the solution.