During the past decade or so the “LOHAS” market has grown wildly. LOHAS stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. In short it means that more people are making the choice to buy organic, shop at farmer’s markets, take yoga and other therapeutic fitness classes, support their local farm-to-fork restaurants and so on. And the majority are women.
The Natural Marketing Institute’s most recent statistics (2008) puts the size of the US LOHAS market at $290 billion in consumer sales (larger including the 23 countries now surveyed) across the segments of:
- Green Building: (includes certified homes, Energy Star appliances, etc.)
- Personal Health: (includes natural/organic food, personal care, supplements, etc.)
- Alternative Transportation: (includes hybrids, diesel vehicles, electric vehicles, car sharing, etc.)
- Eco-tourism: (includes travel spent on excursions in nature)
- Natural Lifestyles: (includes home furnishings, apparel, etc.)
- Alternative Energy (renewable power)
According to Linda Povey, vice president of strategic consulting with the Natural Marketing Institute, LOHAS customers are more and more looking for truth in advertising, and are becoming aware of the negative trend of “greenwashing.”
LOHAS brand loyalty and purchasing is increasingly embracing multiple priorities such as less packaging, biodegradability, low impact dyes, bulk, alternative materials such as renewables like bamboo, hemp, flax, organic cottons, and eco-friendly housewares, paints and cleaners, and locally-made products. This shows that there is awareness not only of the environment, but also the energy used to make and transport goods, and the economic strength of local workers, artisans and areas.
We’ve gone green!
At the same time all this happening in a world still moved by the idea that there’s a sucker born every minute. That would be me and you when we buy products—or buy into the ad campaigns of huge corporations—touting how they’ve “gone green” when they really haven’t.
- Help consumers become more savvy about evaluating environmental marketing claims of advertisers.
- Hold businesses accountable to their environmental marketing claims.
That’s awesome. The site allows you to input ads, and to view and rate ads based on their environmental claims.It also rates the businesses and products that are most true to their claims, and the worst offenders. Lot’s of other sites give greenwashing awards to companies whose claims stand is stark contrast to their actual business practices.
The daily grind
As cool as the Greenwashing Index is, there’s far more that you can do than just turn to tech solutions to stay on top of the greenwashers of the world. Mainly it involves paying attention.
Sometimes when I’m at the health or grocery store I shake my head in disbelief at the products on the shelves. I think, “c’mon, put some health in your health food, or some vegetables in your vegetarianism”
In spite of the good news on post-consumer waste recycled packaging, there’s still too much packaging (and too much plastic) even among health food options or yoga mats or green cleaning supplies. And personally, I find it’s a bit of insult to injury that I have to be vigilant when I’m out shopping. The other day, I actually saw the guy in front of me buying a single potato wrapped in plastic wrap with a sticker label and a UPC code on top. Please!
I wonder if they think that packaging something up with green colors and natural looking logos is enough?
Even though it’s no fair, it does fall to us to be vigilant about who really is using less packaging, better ingredients, and more ethical social practices in business and choose those products over ones that make shallow claims to being green and healthy.
Then you vote with your dollars, and by “sharing” on social media sites the ones that you feel you can really trust.
Even though I have my critiques about the so-called free market, I do think there’s plenty we can do to reward good performing business and punish bad ones by showing who we’re willing to give our money to.
Choose wisely when you shop. Your money makes a bigger statement than you might realize.
–Lindsay Curren, Lindsay’s List