As I write this, I have just left the LOHAS conference in Boulder, Colo. early after really struggling with the sessions. I’m not totally sure why, but one thing has become very clear to me, and that is that the idealistic discussions and opinions haven’t changed: big is bad, don’t sell out, why aren’t the big companies represented here?
Typical was a question from the opening panel: would you sell your product at Walmart? I felt like saying, “Come on, Walmart has done more for sustainability than this entire group of participants combined” – for example, by offering its customers highly affordable organic cotton apparel that you simply won’t find at other stores (even the “elite” ones).
The truth is, I feel like this is the same exact rhetoric I heard a decade ago — the 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 utter realization that they’re making no real progress in changing consumers’ behavior as it relates to the environmental impact of their actions.
In short, the tone of these discussions has to be much different if they are ever going to succeed in making a difference.