Women out in front on sustainability

"The women of the west will make the change."

At least this is what the Dalai Lama told Dr. Jean Houston, whom I had the pleasure of listening to at the LOHAS forum in Boulder, Colo., a couple of weeks ago.

LOHAS stands for "lifestyles of health and sustainability," and according to research, one-fourth of American adults are LOHAS consumers, meaning they make purchases with these criteria in mind.

I was invited to the LOHAS forum to speak on a panel called the "Growth of the SHEconomy." In the beginning, I was intimidated by what I was stepping into -- I was on a panel with some very successful and bright women who also happen to specialize in this topic (Diane MacEachern, author of "Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World"; Tina Wells, CEO of Buzz Marketing Group; and Margaret McAllister, co-founder of Red Kite Business Consulting).

The more I prepared for the panel, though, the more I realized that during my 10 years of being a professional snowboarder, I've learned a thing or two about marketing, and marketing to women specifically. I've gotten to work with some amazing brands that, in many cases, market to female consumers. Also, in starting my own business, ALEX Bottle, with my husband, I've learned a lot more in this area. We're seeking investment, speaking to the media and trying to connect with our target consumers, many of whom are female.

If there was a recurring theme in the three-day LOHAS forum, it was that women all over the world are taking on new roles ... just like the Dalai Lama suggested!

Did you know that women are in charge of 73 percent of household spending and that 70 percent of new businesses are started by women? Dr. Houston found, after gathering research from more than 100 countries, that 70 percent to 80 percent of all activity that sustains a community is being done by women. Women are taking care of families, working high-level jobs, doing philanthropic work and taking time for themselves, and are doing it all in a conscious and sustainable way.

Understanding all this got me to thinking about how things have changed since I started as a professional snowboarder. Snowboarding has always been considered a relatively male-dominated sport, but over the years I've seen the focus shift toward two things: women and sustainability (which I think go hand and hand).

More and more, companies are realizing the value of their female consumers, and that's showing up in the female-specific products they're making, their marketing strategies and even the feel of their companies internally.

All I have to say is, thank God women are in charge these days! Just kidding -- but in a serious way.

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