This month seems to be the season for corporate gatherings, particularly in the sustainability world. Perhaps the “green” enthusiasts prefer to gather when the weather is warmer. Two weeks ago, I participated in the Sustainable Brands (SB) ‘09 conference in Monterey, Ca. This was my third SB conference and I noted a very big transition from those that I had previously attended.
In prior years, the SB community was sometimes susceptible to hosting a series of sessions where big businesses spouted out about their current “green” strategies and highlighted the one or two socially responsible initiatives they were spearheading. The sessions could almost be mistaken for corporate green washing. However, it was also obvious that many companies were still figuring out how to maneuver in this new, greener space.
This June, the entire conference had a much different feel as the session content shifted toward greater transparency and authenticity. I was very impressed as thought leaders and corporations presented real life examples of changes in their companies.
One extraordinary example was from Kaiser Permanente who shared with us how it has created organic farmers markets outside of its medical centers. To date it has developed 30 of these markets, which promote not only the growth of the local farmer, but also demonstrates Kaiser’s understanding of the relationship between healthy food and the prevention of downstream disease.
After all, don’t we need our customers alive and healthy in order to create wealth and purchase our products? That is a simplistic capitalist view of things, but reality.
This week, at the LOHAS Forum in Boulder, Co., I look forward to hearing author Robyn O’Brien discuss her book, The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick – And What We Can Do About It, and her thoughts regarding why big businesses need to understand the importance of growing healthier and more sustainable consumer bases.
Make sure to stay tuned as I will be sharing my thoughts on that gathering with you all next week.