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The Gospel of Sustainability

The Gospel of Sustainability: Media, Market, and LOHAS

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The Gospel of Sustainability
    Book Description:

    From organic produce and clothing to socially conscious investing and eco-tourism, the lifestyles of health and sustainability, or LOHAS, movement encompasses diverse products and practices intended to contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle for people and the planet. In The Gospel of Sustainability, Monica M. Emerich explores the contemporary spiritual expression of this green cultural shift at the confluence of the media and the market._x000B__x000B_This is the first book to qualitatively study the LOHAS marketplace and the development of a discourse of sustainability of the self and the social and natural worlds. Emerich draws on myriad sources related to the notions of mindful consumption found in the LOHAS marketplace, including not just products and services but marketing materials, events, lectures, regulatory policies, and conversations with leaders and consumers. These disparate texts, she argues, universally project a spiritual message about personal and planetary health that is in turn reforming capitalism by making consumers more conscious._x000B__x000B_In lucid and engaging prose rife with relevant contemporary examples and anecdotes about the LOHAS movement, Emerich traces the creative ways in which populations transfer ideas normally assigned to the sphere of religion to the materials and environments at hand, including to markets and the labor they perform. The result is a riveting discussion about the interlocking roles of media, marketplace, and sustainability.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09345-6
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xx)
  4. INTRODUCTION: The Business of Consciousness
    (pp. 1-20)

    The futurist and author Peter Russell sat on the dais looking relaxed as he waited for the crowd filing into the seminar room to take their seats. He was the sole speaker at a special session entitled “Consciousness: The Next Frontier,” held at the 2007 LOHAS Forum, a business conference serving the international marketplace known as Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, LOHAS for short. It was a concurrent session, and clearly the conference organizers had underestimated Russell’s appeal. With the seventy-five chairs in the room taken, the overflow of attendees stood along the walls of the seminar room and sat...

  5. 1. Neither Mainstream nor Alternative: LOHAS at the Crossroads
    (pp. 21-51)

    In spring 2005 the ninth annual LOHAS Forum (interestingly christened as the ninth when the first LOHAS Forum was advertised as such in 2000) opened in a swank Los Angeles hotel within easy batting distance of Hollywood and a long way from its birthplace in Broomfield, Colorado. It had come a long way in more than just distance, too; where once the program at a typical “Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability” Forum comprised mostly researchers, manufacturers, and retailers of such goods as natural dietary supplements, hemp clothing, biodiesel, and organic baby food, LOHAS 9 boasted a star-studded cast that included...

  6. 2. Healing the Self to Heal the World
    (pp. 52-71)

    How do individuals become change-agents? As publishing executive Richard suggested in the last chapter, “change begins with the individual” in LOHAS, but what sort of individuals are we talking about? Where do they receive their vision for change? What motivates them? What sorts of actions do they take and where?

    The LOHAS discourse, particularly that occurring within the consumeroriented texts, tells us that each individual needs to pursue their “bliss.” This idea says that each of us has a unique and distinct path to follow toward ultimate self-fulfillment and happiness, and if yours is making paper airplanes or composting or...

  7. 3. A Vision of Health: Self, Society, and the Natural World
    (pp. 72-87)

    Sam, CEO of a chain of national LOHAS-related magazines, considered my question: did social and environmental change figure into the ideals of the health?

    “Healing the natural world, society, and yourself are completely interrelated,” he told me. “I don’t believe you can heal yourself and do inner work without engaging in protection and healing of the planet and pursuing healing in the social and political realm, between people and nations.” He added, “I reject that you can reach an inner level of Nirvana somehow when you are sitting in a country that is at war or even sitting on a...

  8. 4. Apologies, Redemption, and Repair
    (pp. 88-101)

    Ray Anderson, founder of the international carpet and textile firm Interface Inc. faced the room of business people at LOHAS Forum 2009 in Boulder, Colorado, and told them that “the first industrial revolution” was mistaken. A frequent speaker at LOHAS Forums and other sustainability events, his message never wavers: capitalism is both the cause of sorrows and the bearer of hope.

    Like other industrialists in the LOHAS space, Anderson’s presentations are one part confession and one part ablution—attempting to both remonstrate and rehabilitate capitalism while supporting democratic liberalism. It’s a narrative that manages to avoid both what Patrick Brantlinger...

  9. 5. LOHAS, Social Reform, and Good Capitalism
    (pp. 102-123)

    Joan Baez, singer and activist, stood before the 2005 LOHAS Forum 9 audience. “We are a greed society and the rich are going to have to give to the poor,” she said. “I believe you are all here to address this. This is community.” With that, she deftly wove together the assortment of nonprofit workers, doctors, consultants, industrial powerhouses, yoga teachers, movie stars, recording artists, politicians, and publishers, interpreting them as a collective of people who shared deep convictions about the nature of capitalism as a contradictory system of “power and conflict, of poverty and inequality, of environmental degradation” (B....

  10. 6. Mindful Consumption
    (pp. 124-159)

    In this chapter, we continue to examine the ways in which the “producers” of LOHAS overcome conceptual hurdles between sustainability and capitalism and between market dynamics and spirituality by fortifying and refuting various mythic components of the American Dream. The resulting set of spiritual and intellectual “values” infuses the work of LOHAS producers and their personal values and identities as well. Let’s look more closely at the LOHAS response to the received, conflicted narrative about consumer culture’s incompatibility with sustainability.

    Even though “LOHAS” is mostly a trade term, we have to keep in mind that everything LOHAS producers make, sell,...

  11. 7. The Collective Conscience
    (pp. 160-186)

    The publisher ofThe LOHAS Journalhoped to use the magazine, the conference, and the concept to create new arterial networks among disparate industries that would allow each to share knowledge and build the market for healthy and sustainable goods and services through partnership. In effect, the mission was to cohere a community or a collective around specific sets of values.

    The first mission statement ofThe LOHAS Journalin 2000 read: “LOHAS Journalis dedicated to the promotion of sustainable business as a way to fundamentally alter the landscape for economic, social and environmental change. Our mission is to...

  12. CONCLUSION: Toward an Integrative Spirituality of Sustainability
    (pp. 187-204)

    How are we to live? The question brings to mind both spiritual and lifestyle considerations, concerns that are merged in the LOHAS movement as a way to mobilize an answer to that pervasive question of the ages through the discursive construction of two concepts: “health”—represented as a state of balance—and “sustainability,” the acts and beliefs it takes to maintain that balance. Health serves as the representation of the sacred in LOHAS. It not only makes reference to the socially constructed and physically imperative needs of the self, but it also frames these as interdependent with the needs of...

  13. APPENDIX: Case Studies Ethnographic Interviews with Sustainability Consumers
    (pp. 205-208)
  14. Works Cited
    (pp. 209-224)
  15. Index
    (pp. 225-232)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-236)