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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: New Mantra for Big (and Small) Business


June 13, 2012

BOULDER, Colo. - From Coca-Cola to Colorado's New Belgium Brewing, big players and niche companies are finding they can't ignore the benefits of playing green. And so, they're descending this week on the home of open space, organic locavores, homeopaths and herbal healing: Boulder.

The topic? Sustainability.

Coke and New Belgium will join Sam's Club, Toyota, Colorado-based Udi's Bread and dozens of other businesses to figure out how to pool their resources and reach that consumer who cares about the planet.

Ted Ning, director of LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability), says it's about more than just recycling papers and plastics.

"Where is something going once I'm done with it? Where is it coming from? What's it made of? How is it impacting people?"

He says the LOHAS Forum will focus not just on consumers, but also on how businesses can incorporate sustainability into day-to-day practices.

Outdoors gear and clothing supplier Patagonia is one company incorporating sustainability into every aspect of its business - from using organic cottons in clothing to giving one percent of sales to environmental causes. Sue Harvey, Patagonia Footwear's marketing director, says sustainability works.

"All of these things, when you look at it, seem to be not in line with growing your business, all of these initiatives that have been introduced. And actually we've grown our business significantly. "

By 30 percent last year, she says - and part of that growth comes from telling consumers to buy less.

"One, we're encouraging people to reduce the consumption. And two, asking them that you can actually buy used Patagonia goods. We're cool with it."

She says the plan adds a couple more "r's" to reduce, reuse, and recycle: reimagine and repair. Patagonia will fix products for consumers to help break the "buy, buy, buy" cycle. The LOHAS Forum begins today (Tuesday, June 12) and runs through Thursday.


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