The Greentrepreneur: Natural Awakenings Magazine

lolitaIf you need a magazine to help you find the healthy living and sustainability resources in our community – Natural Awakenings Magazine is it!  This local chapter has tremendous reach in our region (of over 50,000 readers) and is one of the best places to learn about the most up-to-date happenings in the green sector.  This Saturday, the Magazine is hosting NOLA’s first annual Healthy Living & Sustainability EXPO at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, LA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In honor of this inaugural event, we interviewed Lolita Werhan, Publisher of Natural Awakenings S.E. Louisiana to learn more about her passion for healthy living and sustainability.  LifeCity is a proud partner with this tremendous leader in our community along with the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce in the Green Games, a business competition to green local offices, restaurants, and other organizations.

1. What are some of your proudest moments as the leader of Natural Awakenings Magazine?

I’m pleased that we have been able to be a part of the renewal of this area and the City of New Orleans in particular. I started the magazine here in 2007 in order to have a publication here dedicated to rebuilding sustainably with information on what is going on and offering what the average person can do to participate in that effort. I think we have done that with the help of many in the green community.  I am proud of having played a role in originating the Green Games and the Green Natties celebration with LifeCity. It’s important to recognize what businesses and organizations are doing to reduce their own impact and to create some excitement for others to do the same.

2. How does your organization go about improving your social and environmental impacts?

First we look at the impact of producing a hard copy publication. To reduce our impact there we print on recycled newsprint with vegetable based inks. That is a policy of Natural Awakenings Corporation. We manage our distribution carefully, so that we aren’t printing more than will get into readers hands. When we do have any returns they are recycled.

We do not have a central office. Everyone works out of home, except distribution, of course. So, no one has to commute to work each day. We produce the magazine via internet and email mostly, so there is little paper used in that part of production. In the beginning, we used to print out the entire magazine to proof. Now we can do it without printing out one piece of paper. We’ve gone paperless as much as possible in terms of files and data keeping. We buy recycled paper and print on both sides for in-house documents, but we actually do not print out much at all. Of course, we recycle any paper that is discarded. I started worm bin last year and the worms get a lot of the paper, especially anything with confidential information!   Like many publications we also have an online version of the magazine and I imagine that someday we will no longer print on paper at all. But we aren’t there yet.

3. Why did you decide to create the NOLA Healthy Living & Sustainability EXPO?

For the past five years readers and advertisers in Natural Awakenings have been asking for us to put on an expo and this year the time just seemed right. Natural Awakenings basically has two platforms– health and wellness and sustainable living. “ Green living is healthy living and healthy living is green living,” is our mantra – the two cannot be addressed separately.

So we wanted to offer an event that would give the larger community another opportunity to meet face to face with the organizations who are working on our own environmental issues in Louisiana and learn about the how each of us can make a contribution to a more sustainable state and world We are hoping more people will support their efforts after this event.

And similarly with the wellness aspect, we want people to learn about and experience first-hand some of the complementary therapies used in integrative medicine. Wellness is more about prevention and taking care of one’s self. There will be a lot of resources at the expo to help people take charge of their own well-being. There will also be some really fun and wonderfully relaxing things to try.

4.  What partnerships have you formed in order to leverage sustainable impact as an organization?

We have worked with and supported through sponsorships and editorial a lot of the organizations working on sustainability issues. We believe their work is critical to saving our place on this planet. We have partnered with LifeCity the past two years to put on the Green Natties, the culmination of the sustainable business green games. We were pleased to see businesses and organizations being recognized for their efforts to lessen the impact of the operation of their businesses.

5. If you had a magic wand to change one thing that would make it easier for your organization to go green, what would that thing be?

I would magically bring a cold web press printer into the New Orleans area who will print on recycled news print with vegetable based inks. This is the biggest issue we have in terms of our own environmental impact, because the closest affordable printer who will meet our specs is hundreds of miles away, which means increased carbon output and also costs. But we will never give up searching until one comes.

6.  What advice would you give to other organizations or businesses who are trying to improve their internal practices to benefit their city and state?

Well, of course, making an appointment with LifeCity for an assessment and receiving some help in finding the right resources is a good place to start. Many businesses, big and small, simply do not know where to start and may have the false impression that environmentally friendly changes will always cost a lot. There is much that they can do that is not terribly expensive.

7.  Anything else you would like to tell our community of Green Card members and Green Businesses?
Come to the NOLA Healthy Living & Sustainability Expo on Saturday, October 12. There will be something going all day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m We will be starting off the day with a talk by LifeCity’s own Liz Shephard.