There's Green in Green
My motto about "going green" has been: you don't have to believe in something to make money off of it. It so happens that I believe in both kinds of "green." Apparently, others do as well. A few days ago, I attended a major business conference entitled "Opportunity Green." The tag line for the conference was "Being Green + Being Profitable."
The like-minded Opportunity Green crowd included the heavy hitters of green business: Live Earth founder Kevin Wall, "The Lazy Environmentalist" Josh Dorfman, Ethos Water co-founder Jonathan Greenblatt, TreehUgger founder Graham Hill, Pangea Organics founder Joshua Onysko, and many others who have become extremely successful while doing the planet some good.
I learned some interesting things at Opportunity Green:
1. Aside from the founder of TreehUgger, there were few stereotypical treehuggers in the bunch. I did not spot a stitch of flannel, a whiff of patchouli or a glimpse of underarm hair. This was a very professional and very good-looking group. "Green business babes" might have to be a new category of babe.
2. We are still in the beginning stages of "the largest financial opportunity of the century," but the green movement in business already cuts across every sector, from home building to renewable energy to consumer products. For example, recently Colgate-Palmolive purchased independent organic toothpaste maker Tom's of Maine for $100 million. Likewise, Clorox just announced a deal to purchase Burt's Bees for a staggering $925 million, equivalent to one-fourth of Clorox's entire market value. And Method Cleaning Products, with a tiny advertising budget, was the nation's seventh fastest-growing company last year.
3. In order for green products and services truly to go mass-market, however, green businesspeople will need to lose the attitude. I was taken aback by the level of snarkiness in nearly all of the Opportunity Green panelists and moderators. One of the conference leaders even referred to the crowd there as "the wicked funny cool people." This is the exact same attitude of elitism and invincibility that these hipsters' forbears exhibited at the beginning of the dot-com boom fifteen or more years ago. And we all know what happened to them.
At any rate, when it comes to green and business, my biodegradable chips are on the table, and I'm going all in.