What I Learned at ShiftCon

What does it take for me to leave my two young children, buy an airline ticket, and fly cross-country by myself for four days? Well, it would either be a tropical vacation in which I am being fanned by pool boys OR the first annual ShiftCon Conference.

Imagine hundreds of the country’s most influential bloggers and social media movers gathered under one roof to talk about how they can charge the national discussion around the way our families eat, live, impact our environment? Add in 60 of the brands (think Stonyfield, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Boiron, Dr. Bronners, and Organic Valley) and non-profit organizations that could help energize that effort and you have an event I would not miss for anything.

I had the opportunity to speak at ShiftCon, the first international conference for bloggers and activists in the health, wellness, and eco-conscious sphere. It is a space for sharing ideas about using our voices to actually create change, something that is rapidly happening as we leverage our collective influence.

ShiftCon is a three day catalyst to further empower those who shape the conversations filling our social media news feeds and status updates. Many of the attendees have already done that, featured in the national media for their efforts – and successes – in everything from getting artificial ingredients out of major food brands, taking toxic chemicals out of mass-manufactured toys, and changing national legislation.

ShiftCon presented three days of panels, parties, organic meals, heavy hitter keynotes, and the opportunity to connect with non-profits working to change laws and get new ones on the books. I got to rub elbows with renowned Gary Hirshberg, Chairman of Stonyfield Farm; Dr. Alan Greene; Robyn O’Brien, founder of the AllergyKids Foundation and author of “The Unhealthy Truth;” Vani Hari (aka The Food Babe); and so many more brilliant authors, writers, filmmakers, non-profit leaders, and activists. Most importantly, I got to spend time just hanging out with a group of the most amazing friends from around the country who are leading the charge for a better world.

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I hope the audience at my panel learned a few new things to help and inspire their shift.

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I know there are plenty of new things I know now because I attended ShiftCon:

1. I need to trademark my blog name and “brand” Spit That Out before it inevitably becomes co-opted for pornographic purposes.

2. You should always consult a science partner before launching an advocacy campaign in the chemical/toxicity/health arena. Also, get legal review – or the partnership of a nonprofit with legal review – before launching a major brand-specific campaign.

3. Save your citrus rinds and add them to white vinegar for a powerful grease-cutting cleaner

4. One blog post CAN change a company. It happened with Vani Hari and a massive frozen yogurt company labeling itself as organic. Then it happened with Subway’s “yoga mat” bread and Johnson and Johnson’s toxic chemicals in baby shampoo. It happened with Lori Alper’s petitions to Disney and Tide.  It CAN happen.

5. And it has to happen. Because here is the craziest thing I learned – this isn’t a whole world problem. It’s mostly just an American problem. There are INSANE double standards in what companies are putting on American shelves versus European shelves! You might know that most nations are already labeling GMOS – just not America. But did you know that Europe has banned more than 1300 cosmetic ingredients, while the U.S. hasbanned or restricted only 11!?  It’s the same story with our food ingredients.  In fact, the Kraft Mac & Cheese or Ritz Crackers or even Starburst candies you buy in a European market have completely different and SAFER ingredients than the ones you buy in the U.S.! As long as we allow these companies to serve us toxic crap because it’s cheaper for them to manufacture, they will!

If you aren’t pissed off you aren’t paying attention! So wake up. We’re moving fast and we need you to help us accelerate. Buckle up and join the SHIFT.

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