Environmentalism Lost and Found

Mainstream environmentalism is preoccupied with giant technofixes – from windfarms to ‘sustainable consumption’ – and pays almost no attention to the underlying cultural reasons why our civilisation is destroying the planet.

Somewhere along the way of observing and experiencing the degradation of the planet, environmentalism morphed from being a project designed to protect the wider natural world from destruction by human industry, into a project that exists to protect the lifestyles of middle-class consumers in as ‘sustainable’ way as possible.

We are kidding ourselves that we will not have to radically change our ways; if oil, food and commodity prices keep on rising, then localisation will happen, if not for economic rather than simply sentimental reasons. The effects of the 2008 collapse are still playing themselves out, but globalisation is already in retreat.

In ten years time, the world will look very different. By acting now, rather than waiting for systems to fail catastrophically and force our hands, the long-term future for renewal can be extremely bright. Ridiculously high land property prices and entrenched land ownership patters are major obstacles preventing an intelligent use of our countryside today, but as a greater majority of the world’s population migrates towards urban living, cities must regenerate and reinvent themselves.

But the exciting thing about cities is their dynamism and agility in adapting and renewing themselves, absorbing new ideas and becoming more enjoyable places to live and work. The new element in the mix is climate change, and so all development must now embrace social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Consumers have traditionally expected governments to take the lead in protecting the environment, but now they are looking more to the corporate world to take action, rather than individuals with political influence. Increasingly, Asians want economic growth but believe it should be achieved through greener industry. The two essential ingredients here are people and an understanding regarding sense of place. Placemaking is a concept – a place is really only successful if people enjoy it and make good use of it, and that means being appropriate for local people and the local environment.

At the time of writing this article, the words ‘windfarm’ and placemaking provoke red squiggly lines to appear on the screen, announcing them as unrecognisable in the dictionary. As our way of living changes, so too must the vocabulary we use.

A far more wide-reaching term than the semantics of ‘eco’ or ‘green’ could ever encompass is LOHAS — Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability. It represents a social movement that has conscious consumption at the centre of its values. Stemming from a business movement in the USA, LOHAS has morphed in Asia to become a brand used to describe all manner of environmental products and services. First taking off in Japan, then China and Taiwan and now spreading rapidly through the Asia-Pacific region.

LOHAS finds expression from the shores of San Francisco to the bay of Singapore in the increasing global resistance to market globalisation. There is a palpable resurgence of a desire to connect with the land again Ð hence the recent shift in attention towards placemaking. Tree planting activities are become more and more popular, farmers’ markets are becoming the preferred choice location for grocery shopping and even in supermarkets the organic food selections are increasing.

More consumers than ever are using their purchasing power to make a genuine statement about their concern for the environment. Combined, they make a dedicated group, fond of everything from organic potatoes to hybrid cars, and marketers have given them their very own name to wear as a badge of honour; ‘Lohasian’. The latest research from January 2010 shows that 80% of these environmentally mindful consumers say their purchase decisions are directly influenced by a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies.

LOHAS Asia is an organisation based in Singapore and serves as an information hub and starting point for any company looking to improve their sustainability and reduce their environmental footprint, as well as for the general public to find new products that align with their sustainable and green philosophy on life.

In May this year a public awareness campaign ‘R U LOHAS’ was launched to inform the public on how being LOHAS can increase personal health and reduce their environmental impact on the world. By ‘liking’ the video and identifying themselves as being LOHAS, this leads to the LOHASia facebook group where members of the public are encouraged to share their advice, ideas and opinions on living lifestyles of health and sustainability.

The video can be seen on the homepage www.lohas-asia.org and on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN3-Kp7T0LU

R U LOHAS emphasises the need for all citizens to cooperate with the efforts exerted to live a healthy lifestyle and control pollution, taking into consideration that this is the primary criterion that will contribute to the success of the sustainability endeavours and lessen the adverse consequences on the environment and nature.

It is time for every individual consumer to understand that WE are the most powerful people in the fight against environmental exploitation, not governments, banks or big corporations. It is through our everyday purchasing habits that we can change the world for the better.

Members of the public are encouraged to join The LOHASia facebook group and become a part of the rapidly growing LOHAS movement, particularly in Asia Pacific.

Playing on the concept of a Utopia, LOHASia is a platform for the public to join the sustainability conversation, promote healthy and sustainable lifestyle options, glean inspiration from other members, name and shame companies not operating to sustainability principles and share advice on lifestyle options on their doorstep.

https://www.facebook.com/LOHASians

A snapshot of the LOHAS consumer reveals a passionate, environmentally and socially responsible consumer segment and shows them to be early adopters who can be used as predictors of upcoming trends. They tend to be influential over friends and family, are more brand loyal than other consumers especially to companies whose values match their own, and most importantly, are willing to put their money behind their beliefs and values.

Just what are LOHAS consumers buying and where are they buying them? Among other goods and services LOHAS consumers are buying organic label products and products related to health, wellness and sustainable lifestyles. The price and availability of green options has grown tremendously with green products now widely available online, but in Asia the results show that demand continues to outstrip supply on the high street market.

As the LOHAS movement moves from niche to mainstream, the opportunities for LOHAS products are everywhere. The HUB by LOHAS was formed in 2010 to help companies network with each other and to date 386 members enjoy the benefits of being connected to valuable leads, contacts and opportunities through a trusted network of likeminded companies worldwide. Members of The HUB by LOHAS are permitted to use the Asia Pacific LOHAS logo on product and promotional materials. Visit http://thehub.lohas.com to become a member today.
-Article courtesy of LOHAS Asia.

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