Positive News spoke to green-living experts on the trends that will be at the forefront this year
With scores of people pledging to fly less, choosing plant-based milks over dairy, and a lockdown-spurred surge of interest in growing fruit and vegetables at home, signs abound that many are hungry to green their lifestyles. And things are set to continue in the same vein this year, according to experts. Here are six top trends.
1. Impact-focused finance
Moving your money to organisations that prioritise ethics and the environment is one of the most powerful things you can do to tackle the climate crisis. In the next year, we’ll likely see more people set up accounts with ethical banks, avoiding financial institutions that invest in fossil fuels. Indeed, ahead of the Cop26 climate summit last November, nearly 40 per cent of people polled by Triodos Bank UK said that the upcoming conference was inspiring them to use their money in a more sustainable way.
“People will become savvier in 2022 and realise that banking is about more than just planting a tree for every account opened or having a card made with recycled plastic,” says Gareth Griffiths, head of UK retail banking at Triodos. “These initiatives are all a step in the right direction, but by far the most important factor in terms of impact is the investment and lending focus of the bank.”
Examples of its own lending include community-owned solar and wind energy generation, electric vehicle infrastructure and firms that specialise in designing and refurbishing hydropower projects.
2. Plant-based food
Growing awareness of the environmental impact of what we consume, combined with mind-blowing innovations in foods that mimic meat, cheese and fish, will see plant-based foods continue to explode. ‘Climatarianism’ – a diet focused on reducing your carbon footprint – will rise in popularity.
“Feeling frustrated at the lack of action from governments and corporations, people are looking at what action they can take themselves,” says Sian Conway-Wood, founder of online sustainability community, #EthicalHour and author of Buy Better, Consume Less. “After divesting your money from fossil fuels, reducing your dairy and meat intake is one of the biggest impacts you can make. We’re seeing more options available than ever before across restaurants, takeaways and supermarkets, helping more people choose plant-based food.”
Look out for potato milk as it tries to steal the non-dairy milk crown in 2022.
3. Products and companies that put nature first
People will seek out greener options across their shopping lists in 2022. Experts predict a shift towards brands that support biodiversity and lean into regenerative practices, which help restore ecosystems and communities.
“People are becoming much more aware of what is in the products they choose to buy, from skincare to homeware, and value is being placed on non-plastic alternatives like wood, linen and so on,” says Georgina Wilson-Powell, editor of sustainable living magazine, Pebble. “There’s also a renewed appreciation of artisan goods, handmade products and locally sourced items.”
4. Sustainable fashion
The pandemic gave many of us a chance to examine our relationship with fast fashion, providing a ‘reset’ opportunity to rethink how we value newness, comfort and quality. A survey by consultants McKinsey found that 58 per cent of people are now less concerned with fashion, with over 70 per cent saying they intend to keep their clothes for longer. This is good news as the UN estimates that to produce a single pair of jeans, 10,000 litres of water is required. Gulp.
In 2022, many will be seeking a longer-lasting and minimalist wardrobe that scores highly when it comes to the environment. More people will scrutinise clothing labels, looking for eco materials such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo fibre and even algae.
To produce a single pair of jeans, 10,000 litres of water is required
Secondhand clothing will also become the first port of call for some, as people hunt for their favourite labels at bargain prices on sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Vinted and Depop. Giving clothes a new lease of life by upcycling – devising innovative ways to spruce up that old dress or shirt – will become de rigueur, as will hiring clothes, thanks to the proliferation of fashion rental sites such as Hurr and Rotaro.
“Sustainable fashion has been growing in popularity for the last few years… and Gen Z are really pushing this trend as they want to shop and wear their values,” says Wilson-Powell. “Secondhand shopping apps and ethical fashion platforms make it easier to choose and find better alternatives to fast fashion.”
5. Circular patterns of consumption
With mass consumption and linear economic growth incompatible with avoiding further climate breakdown, this year we’ll increasingly choose to buy from retailers that work within circular models – think repair, reuse and refill options. Zero waste shops will continue to be popular, and supermarkets’ foray into the world of refill will continue. The beauty industry is getting in on it too, with players such as The Body Shop and Diptyque introducing ‘keep forever’ products. Even perfume brands are dipping a toe in, with Le Labo and Molton Brown among those who provide scent refills.
In 2022 we’ll also see more circular-based community actions – swapping and sharing events, plus repair cafes. “More community initiatives that allow people to repair and share goods will launch as we realise that not all of us need our own drill, for instance,” says Conway-Wood. “It’ll help rebuild community links.”
6. Mindful living
Mindfulness has entered the mainstream in the past decade, but in 2021 work-life balance and mental resilience were thrown into the spotlight like never before. The pandemic saw people reconnecting with nature and the outdoors as a way to better balance the stresses of life, giving us pause for thought on what we truly value. A study across 24 countries found that nearly 60 per cent of people are now more mindful of their impact on the environment. This focus on humans’ place within the natural world and how we interact with ‘stuff’, will continue into 2022.
“We’ve been on the mindless consumer treadmill for so long,” says Conway-Wood. “People are wanting to become more conscious citizens and wake up to the impact they can have on a wider level.”
Main image: Westend61