Working Towards a More Sustainable Future at SB ‘11

Posted by Allison Welde, SFI Director of Conservation Partnerships and Communications

Last week I attended the Sustainable Brands ‘11 Conference in Monterey, CA, which brought together more than 700 global sustainability strategists, product designers and top brand executives working toward a more sustainable future. The conference provided a great venue to hear what other companies are doing and to exchange and discuss new ideas with other likeminded individuals.

I had the honor of introducing a group of world class experts during the “Supply Chain, Sourcing, and Community Partnerships” track. This theme resonates so strongly with the SFI program, the work we do and with our recently released 2011 Progress Report themes: conservation, community and integrity and our focus on the Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program. By addressing the avoidance of controversial sources; improving wildlife habitat management and conservation of biodiversity; and supporting community projects, we work together to ensure our forests continue to offer the many values we treasure now and in the future.

The speakers I introduced repeatedly stressed the need to collaborate and provide consumers with traceability and innovation. Alice Quan, Senior Director at Walmart.com for Trend + Product Development, Sustainability, agrees: “Simple ideas can make a huge impact and transparency is now the expectation among consumers. But it is essential for all of us to work together to inspire societal progress and move us all toward a sustainable future.”

I also had the pleasure to listen and talk to many great speakers. One of them was Erin Schrode from Teens Turning Green. The 20-year-old enthralled the audience as she was telling us about teens’ consumption, their demand for responsible products and the importance of engaging with Millenials. Other inspiring speakers included Bonnie Nixon from the Sustainability Consortium and Eric Ostern from Unilever. Like SFI, they both stressed the need to be completely transparent and collaborate with one another instead of work on our own.

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I hope that in speaking to attendees at our exhibitor booth, I stimulated a critical commitment to source responsibly. Our goal for the conference was to look at the bigger picture and to inspire major brands to show they care about responsible forestry by including fiber from SFI-certified forests and other responsible sources in their supply chain. We look forward to working with Sustainable Brands in the future to promote responsible forestry and encourage creative innovation and behavior change.

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