After two years attending virtually, last weekend I was finally able to attend The Conscious Festival in person in Paris!

In my past corporate jobs, I often went to trade shows and conferences to network, check in on clients, learn about new trends, and make new connections. It was always an exhilarating (and exhausting) experience! Having started The Social Palm just a few weeks before “lock down” and “social distancing” became a part of our daily vocabulary, I hadn’t been to a big event like this as an ecopreneur.

The idea behind The Conscious Festival? “Help guide you on a journey towards embracing a more sustainable lifestyle by reconnecting with yourself, others, and the planet.” You know as soon as I read that, I was sold!

Here are my main takeaways from the talks I attended:

Deep Dive into Food and Regenerative Agriculture

The speakers: Isabelle Sultan from Dior Parfums, Céline Maguet from Agence Soif, Axel Gamburzew from Possible Future. The moderator: Katia Prassoloff from Reforestaction.

  • It’s important to test new models, new approaches, new ways of doing things & implementing a corporate (and social) culture that values learning, unlearning and relearning.
  • We need to work together, between businesses but also at all levels of the value chain (from artisans and producers, to suppliers, distributors, retailers and consumers) for a real change to operate.
  • Having large companies like Dior incorporate sustainability at different levels sends a strong signal to their market and consumers.
  • Finding ways to transmit past and new knowledge around sustainable solutions is essential to ensure a better present and future for all of us.

Art as a Vector of Values

The speakers: Marine Van Schoonbeek, Co-founder and General Director of Thanks For Nothing, Mia Macfarlane, photographer and co-founder of IRK Magazine, Florence Manuguerra, Founder of The Caring Gallery, Yasmina Auburtin, Editorial Consultant for Imagine 2050, and Sebastien Heimann, Founder & CEO of The Good Society
The moderators: Lucile Gremion & Sarah Forst, former founders of Bureau Badass.

  • Art can have a strong political impact in a variety of ways, from more overt messages to more subtle ones.
  • Incorporating sustainability, ethics and conscious behaviors can take on many forms within more creative fields, from asking models to bring their own reusable water bottles to shootings to using a typically inaccessible network of museums to showcase younger artists with strong ecological or social messages in their works to using new technologies like NFTs and cryptocurrency to support environmental causes through art.
  • It’s also important to consider more mainstream media and content creators when talking about art and sustainability. For instance, in a popular TV show, moving away from the stereotype storyline of the eco-conscious kid who stops showering and eating meat to show a more complex, multifaceted vision of eco-activism, or showing more eco-friendly modes of transportation or meals in scenes without that being the overt focus.
  • Creating bridges between artists, the art industry, social and environmental organizations, and mediums is essential yet still in early stages, leading to a number of innovative structures and ways of operating to emerge.

Finding and Realizing your Life’s Mission

The speakers: Marion Seclin, actor, Romain Dian, author and entrepreneur, and Thomas Amiard, breath work specialist. The moderator: Elya Hasson, founder of idohealing.

  • The path towards finding and realizing your life’s mission, your purpose, can take on many forms. Some people may know their purpose early on while others may need more time to find it.
  • For some, meditation, breath work and medicinal plants may be the key to emptying their minds and creating space for their purpose to show itself, for others, it may be through sports, meticulous and repetitive activities, or even interactions with a specific person along the way.
  • How our purpose manifests itself can evolve over our lifetime, but at the core of it all, we all want to find our own unique way to love and share while taking care of ourselves, others and the planet.

Carbon Neutrality: Myth or Reality?

The speakers: Pierre Gilbert, author and activist, Hugo Meunier, cofounder of merci Raymond, Paloma Moritz – journalist and head of ecology at Blast, Anne Claire Voss, journalist for Le Petit Journal.
The moderator: Caroline Blaes, journalist.

  • Carbon offsetting is often used as an excuse by companies (and countries) to continue business as usual. Planting trees and other ‘offsetting’ activities don’t always take into account the amount of time needed for the offsetting to actually happen. For instance, a tree will need 20 years to grow before it can start absorbing carbon.
  • The tools and solutions to slow global warming have been identified at a global level, but states/countries are not implementing them fast enough or thoroughly enough to reach the COP 21 goals. Powerful lobbies are one of the major issues blocking many initiatives from being implemented.
  • A lot of pressure and guilt is being placed on the consumer, rather than corporations and governing states. Consumers do have power to bring about change, through their votes – first and foremost – as well as their behaviors. We need to demand greater accountability from our governments and elected officials.
  • We need to shift the overarching narrative from one focused on what we will lose to one centered on what we will gain, individually and collectively, through greater sustainability and conscious living.

New Narratives & Business Models to Regenerate the World

The speakers: Nada Bargachi, founder of the Vera app, Benjamin Lanot, founder of EATIC, Devin Gilmartin, CEO of The Canvas Global, Christian Eckbert, CFO for Wildling shoes and Ian Fellbom, of the Gogogreen collective.
The moderator: Awa Sagna, actor and founder of Peulh Fulani and La Maison de l’Afrique.

  • We vote 3 times a day for what we believe in through what we eat. (Benjamin Lanot)
  • Change is a push and pull that needs to come from both sides between retailers & consumers. (Devin Gilmartin)
  • We need to go back to basics. By gathering in nature and developing new experiences in total opposition of the classic modern ways of consuming, we can shift away from consumption towards more connection and a stronger sense of community. (Ian Fellbom)
  • In France, we use the word “sobriété” (sobriety) a lot when talking about sustainability. We need to make the narrative sexy, not focusing on ‘less’ but rather what it brings (make it desirable) to help accompany this phase of transition from awakening to action. (Benjamin Lanot)
  • Sustainability is not going to be the leading narrative/selling point if we want conscious businesses to move from niche markets to touch the larger, general consumer base. (Nada Bargachi)
  • Businesses need to redefine what growth means. For Wilding, growth needs to be sustainable and positive impact driven. (Christian Eckbert) 

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