#RaiseTheGreenBar Sustainability Summit at the Hearst Tower in New York City
This year I had the honor to design and lead a panel about one of my most favorite subjects in the world, you guessed it: sustainable travel! It was one of those WOW moments – three years ago I joined this event as an audience member just dipping my toe in the water and world of sustainability.
And on October, 28th, 2019, I left my Brooklyn apartment dressed in Cuyaya (a conscious women’s wear clothing brand) and headed straight to the Hearst Tower in New York City to join Laurie Jennings, Deputy Editor & Institute Director of Good Housekeeping for their Third Annual, Raising the Green Bar Summit.
The Good Housekeeping Institute in collaboration with MADE SAFE (a non-profit focused on educating companies and consumers about safe ingredients in our products) developed this symposium to highlight the impact sustainability plays in our world. For marketers this can mean many different things based on each particular business model, vision, structure, and so forth. But for business that are actively pursuing efforts in positive change, this translates to maximizing a brand’s sustainability efforts for increased consumer engagement, a better ROI, and a healthier planet.
My panel: Ready, Set, Jet! Insights From Travel Front Lines
As Founder of the Conscious Connoisseur, I was invited to speak at their Round Table discussion Ready, Set, Jet! Insights From Travel Front Lines which I helped pull together with some fellow sustainable tourism entrepreneurs and leaders:
- Scott Kania, CEO, Earthwatch US
- Matthew Hurlburt, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
- Tomika Bryant, Lifestyle/Travel Influencer, Life in Pumps
- Monica Olsen, VP, Head of Marketing, Serenbe
Our Moderator, Tedd Evers, Founder of TripTuner kept the conversation lively and the focus of our discussion dove into everything sustainable travel, an umbrella term that provides the framework for a variety of practices in the travel space like eco-travel, impact travel, and community tourism. This topic is close to my heart, as it is the mission of The Conscious Connoisseur to create awareness of and show how sustainability in the travel industry can be desirable and why it matters. As you may know, I’ve also been developing sustainably curated getaways focused on wellbeing and impact that provide opportunities for conscious travelers to join in on some life changing and meaningful journeys.
Understanding the Blue Mind
Our day kicked off with a blue marble – something I was handed by a stranger but shortly after realized how special the token was. If you hold a blue marble at arms length, it shows how the earth is perceived from space. Pretty neat concept. And once keynote speaker and marine biologist, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, joined the stage, he further explained why the marble was distributed.
As the author of the landmark best-selling book BLUE MIND that details how water effects our health and well-being, Dr. Nichols has discovered how proximity to water can improve athletic performance, increase calm, diminish anxiety and increase professional success. I am my happiest when I am in the Ocean (Mediterranean preferred) and Dr. Nichols discussed the remarkable phenomena about why we benefit from being in, on, under or simply near water. I SO relate to this, and it was super interesting to put science behind my love for being at sea (sailing, swimming, surfing, or all of the above).
The Charge Against Single Use Plastic
Some of the highlights included hearing from Lauren Singer, aka Trash is for Tossers and Founder of Package Free Shop, Dianna Cohen, CEO and Co-Founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Celebrity Climate Activist, Kyra Sedgwick, about the world of plastic, particularly single use plastic. This is something that has become all too accessible worldwide and has really shown negative effects. Plastic pollution is a MAJOR problem, and we can do a lot more to help remedy this simply by refusing single-use plastics.
Ways to reduce your plastic consumption:
- Purchase glass or paper containers (especially for commodities like milk)
- Bring reusable water bottles with you everywhere. Refuse plastic water bottles!
- Bring reusable utensils & straws with you to have your meals. Refuse plastic utensils.
- Being reusable straws with you everywhere. Refuse plastic straws.
- Amazon Prime less. Packaging is a huge waste and a lot of plastic materials are used in shipping.
I’ve been following Lauren (who also its Brooklyn based like me wooo) and her entrepreneurial and very successful endeavors with the Package Free shop. This is a great retail space to purchase many things without (as the name suggests), packaging. I love to see people with passion, driven by purpose and from my own generation creating this significant change in the world. It’s really something to see one person take on a cause that infiltrates so may levels and layers and deliver impact though their efforts. So if you don’t know about Lauren yet, totes give her a follow...
Sustainable beauty, self care, science, and more
Meika Hollender Cofounder & CEO of Sustain Natural, Kate Solomon, Founder and President, Babo Botanicals and Valeri Grandury about marketing to Gens X, Y, and beyond! How Corporate catalysts like Unilever are moving the Green dial by focusing more and more on their supply chains and creating brands with sustainable values, like Love Beauty & Planet.
We were honored to hear from Dr. Graciela Chichilnisky, co-founder and CEO of Global Thermostat and author of Reversing Climate Change. Dr. Chichilnisky has been called an A List Star economist by the Washington Post and a Hero of the Environment by Time Magazine; she is professor at Columbia University and worked for many years with the United Nations where she was US Lead Author of the IPCC (Working Group III) who was given the Nobel Prize for its work on Climate Change and is the designer and the author of the Carbon Market of the UN Kyoto Protocol.
Her message today was that as a greenhouse gas, excessive CO2 creates a cover that traps the sun’s heat energy in the atmospheric bubble, warming the planet and the oceans. An increase in CO2 plays havoc with the Earth’s climates by causing changes in weather patterns. But we must think differently and use what we have to make CO2 work to our advantage – think innovations like Sodastream that turn an issue like carbon dioxide into something we can enjoy (sparkling water!), while limiting plastic waste.
The summit would not be complete without a segment about the “New Age of beauty.” Melanie Rud Moderated the conversation with Romain Gaillard , Founder of the Detox Market & the Detox Mode, Sonika Malhotra, Global Brand Director, Unilever and Gianne Doherty, Founder, The Well Summit & Organic Bath Company. I feel lucky as a New Yorker to live near the Detox Market and have the access to such awesome products (but it is a very dangerous place if you are on a budget)!
The food supply chain
And of course, conversations about the future of food, and from farm to table. Our vegan lunch was made by the Hearst chef and was super delish! Bob Quinn, Organic Farmer & Founder, of Kamut Khorasan Wheat, stepped on stage in full farmer gear including a wheat straw in his hat – that was fun to watch. Carrie Brownstein, Global Seafood Quality Standards Advocate, Whole Foods Market and Gina Asoudegan, VP Mission & Innovation, Applegate also all spoke about their company efforts to be more sustainable. A major theme from this panel was the idea of regenerative agriculture, which stick with me having seen a lot of this approach to how we treat our land in my many years living in Italy and in my visits to the wineries all over South Africa.
What is regenerative agriculture?
- Regenerative Agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services that seeks to rehabilitate and enhance the entire ecosystem of the farm by placing a heavy premium on soil health with attention also paid to water management, fertilizer use, and more.
- Regenerative Agriculture also aims to capture carbon in soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation.
Activism for good!
Emy Kane, Director of Lonely Whale, and an incubator for courageous ideas that drive impactful market and policy change on behalf of our ocean, talked about the amazing work they are doing with NGO’s, influencers, corporations and policymakers. In case you have heard of their award winning work with #StopSucking, they enabled a massive celebrity base to get behind their campaign with the goal to eliminate the use of plastic straws. As someone with an long-standing advertising background, I cant applaud them enough for using their creative talents in this way! And their new PSA (Plastic Service Announcement LOL) is killer…
We also had the chance to meet Young Activists who are shaping the future … Lucy Biggers, Correspondent & Producer, Now This News introduced Rachel Parent, Founder of Kids Right To Know, and GenEarth Event.org; Alexandria Villasenor, Youth Climate Activist, and Shelby O’Neil Founder of Junior Ocean Guardians & No Straw November) … truly an amazing and dedicated group of leaders for our tomorrows. It was incredible to see how far they have come in such a short amount of time. It’s quite interesting to see how this generation has gravitated towards technology and communications platforms like Instagram and Youtube so organically to help them gain exposure and get the word out. My generation was lucky to have a dial-up internet when I was their age!
In closing …
My new friend, Amy Ziff, Founder of MADE SAFE gave us more to ponder as she explained the MADE SAFE mission of closing the loop on ingredients to keep us and our planet healthy. Then we all moseyed down to the Good Housekeeping floor for vino and snacks, and goodie bags galore! Don’t worry, all goodie bags were via all reusable containers, with clean beauty products and other planet and people healthy items that will keep everyone responsibly stocked for the year 🙂