Environmental Trends 2021
What do you think will be hot topics in the environment industry this 2021? In this article, we have covered ten topics that will most likely become the hottest trends next year. Also, you can read more about the eco trends for the next decade.
The Fall of Fast Fashion
Not that many people know about this, but the fast fashion industry is one of the largest sources of pollution in the world. Companies like Forever21, Urban Outfitters, make affordable, mass-produced clothing that unfortunately does not have a very long shelf life. They also usually go out of style not so long after, that is if they last long enough. This leads to tons of clothes ending up in the landfills.
It also caused one of the up-and-coming trends in sustainability to emerge – smaller, entrepreneurial clothing brands getting their share of the limelight. This is especially true for the smaller clothes manufacturers that focus on reducing the amount of waste their production processes create. Consumers nowadays have become more aware of their environmental footprints and they are showing it through their choice of clothes.
The Rise of Rentable Clothing
Aside from not buying from fast fashion brands quite as often, people are now more open to the possibility of rentable clothes. There are now stores that offer subscriptions for customers so they can rent clothes. Aside from the fact that this kind of business model is sustainable, it is also affordable and quickly becoming popular. Although this did not take off in the USA yet, clothes rentals shops are quite popular in many countries in Europe, like Spain and Amsterdam.
If people were less apprehensive about wearing clothes that other people have worn before (they will be properly cleaned and sanitized after every use) then the idea of clothes rental won’t be such an eyebrow-raising concept. Things might start changing next year, as more people are becoming aware of the fact that the fast fashion clothing industry is one of the biggest sources of pollution in the world.
Renewable Energy Will Get Its Second Wind
One of the recurring environmental issues every year is how to reduce humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels. It is the reason why the renewables industry might be due to a resurgence in the post-pandemic world.
Currently, renewables make up around 11% of the energy producers in the USA, which is proof that added investments and improvements in the industry made a significant impact. Aside from the promising possibilities of large-scale solar and wind farms, there is also a growing interest in micro-generation of electricity in private homes.
It also helped that renewable energy is becoming even more affordable, allowing more businesses and private individuals to avail of them easily.
Capitalism Gets Challenged
More people are now questioning capitalism in terms of its effectiveness for the economy, society in general, and its effects on the environment. The World Economic Forum released a manifesto where companies are required to pay their taxes honestly. This is to avoid corruption in any form. It also ensures that they continue to uphold human rights in their supply chains and actively advocate for a level yet competitive playing field.
Nations all over the world are trying to put into action plans for a healthier planet and society. They do this by redefining people’s perception of growth and progress. In the current year, nations and industries voice out their opinions about global systems of production that cause the planet more harm than good. With that, companies are now considering to produce other positive global impacts other than profit.
Water Conservation Gains More Popularity
If the estimates of the World Economic Forum are accurate, one of the top 5 crises that the world will be dealing with in the next decade is water shortage. The UN also predicts that by 2030, all nations will experience a significant deficiency of potable water by as much as 40%.
It is safe, therefore, to assume that companies will have a greater interest in using water more efficiently. The same companies are also currently gathering more information regarding their water consumption, including educating themselves on which production processes use the most water so they can closely monitor their water bills.
Microgrids Gaining More Popularity
There are many reasons why microgrids may be one of the biggest trends regarding sustainability next year. For one thing, microgrids provide people who live in regions where access to conventional energy sources is scarce with a safe and reliable power supply. This will be most essential in countries with a rapidly growing population.
In addition, due to the extreme weather conditions becoming more common because of climate change, electrical interruptions will also become more common. However, because microgrids have a more resilient infrastructure, the number of people who will be affected by the said power interruptions will decrease greatly.
What’s more, microgrids have become more affordable nowadays because of the declining costs of solar panel systems. This means that green microgrids are no longer part of the niche market intended only for those with disposable income. This trend will most likely continue beyond 2021 as the technology becomes more efficient.
Carbon Negative Goes Mainstream
Another trend that will most likely happen in 2021 is the continued and enhanced push for zero emissions. Huge tech companies like Microsoft have committed to eliminating the creation of a negative carbon footprint by 2030. This means that they will be removing more carbon dioxide than they produce. Although tech companies have not divulged how they would achieve a negative carbon footprint, energy experts speculate that at least zero carbon emission is possible.
Aside from helping the environment, another huge perk for companies to strive for negative carbon footprints is that they will likely experience a huge surge of investors. They will also most likely set a new positive standard by which future companies will be following.
Demand for More Plant-based Food
2021 may also bear witness to the exponential growth in the demand for more plant-based sources. In recent years, plant-based food products like veggie meat, tempeh, and tofu have become more accessible and affordable, making it easier for people to switch to a vegan lifestyle, or at least decrease their reliance on animal-based food products.
Moreover, the popularity of the Beyond Meat products and the Impossible Burger from Burger King proves that people are now more tolerant of plant-based meat substitutes. It is also because more customers are more concerned about the meat industry and how they affect the environment.
In the US alone, agriculture and forestry account for almost 10% of the greenhouse gases expelled into the atmosphere. Also, more than a quarter of all the land on the planet is exclusively used for raising livestock, and a third of all the arable land is used just for producing feed for said livestock. If more people switched to consuming more plant-based foods, these numbers will drastically lower.
Additionally, lab-grown, artificial meat might be due for major breakthroughs in the following months. The possibility of creating artificial meat in a laboratory has already been proven, so the next possible discovery is how to mass-produce it efficiently within cities, and near distribution centers. This is to further minimize emissions caused by transportation and logistics.
Further Reducing Electric Consumption
If there is one good thing that COVID-19 has brought, it is that it led to a significant reduction in energy use worldwide. This will most likely trend once again next year when everything turns back to normal, hopefully.
The possibilities of using more electric vehicles for freight and transportation will be explored further. Many building designers will strive to get a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and rating, and LED lighting solutions will become the new norm all-around the world.
Presently, several cities in the US require commercial buildings that are above a certain size limit to upgrade their CFL and incandescent lighting systems to LED bulbs. Aside from the fact that LED lighting is almost equal in cost to traditional lights, they are also more efficient and can last much longer.
Lowering Plastic Reliance
More and more people are now mindful of the enormous amount of plastic waste that people produce every day and how much of them are not recycled, but instead, ends up in massive piles in landfills.
For instance, people are now requesting food manufacturers to stop using single-use Styrofoam containers and go for biodegradable cardboard boxes instead. Also, more supermarkets no longer provide plastic bags for groceries. They require their patrons to bring their own reusable cloth shopping bags. Some supermarket kiosks even allow you to refill your shampoo and conditioner bottles and just pay for the contents and not the container.
Moreover, reusable metal or bamboo straws and cutlery are now available in restaurants and fast-food chains to cut back on single-use plastic straws. Large fast-food chains like McDonald’s have even stopped providing plastic straws with their beverages, and instead encouraging their patrons to utilize reusable straws. Starbucks also does its part by encouraging their customers to bring their own coffee containers for their orders.
Top 4 Eco Trends for the Upcoming Decade
People are starting to shift to an eco-friendly lifestyle as of late, and it seems that this trend will not die off anytime soon. In fact, here are some of the top eco trends predicted to get truly big in the upcoming decade:
Changing the ways energy is produced
One of the most talked-about trends in sustainability is curbing people’s dependence on fossil fuels, which is actually the leading contributor to climate change.
Expert analysts believe that solar and wind energy will become more viable in the next couple of years as the technology used to produce them becomes more efficient. It is also possible that micro-generation of electricity within individual homes using these technologies can become more commonplace.
Shifting towards plant-based eating
Many experts believe that the following decade will give rise to veganism. It is a well-known fact that dairy and meat production farms account for a big chunk of global air pollution. Shifting to plant-based eating will mean that the demand for meat and dairy products will drop. It can also significantly lessen the amount of air pollution meat and dairy farms produce.
“Meatless” meat is slowly becoming more popular nowadays. As it turns out, many people do not care if their steak or burger does not contain any real meat, as long as it still tastes and feels the same. Moreover, veggie-meats are cheaper than the real thing, which is a convincing reason to make the switch.
There is also some good news for those who are not big fans of veggie burgers. It is the fact that there is a push for regenerative agriculture, which will support both plant and livestock production. This initiative aims to clean up the act of traditional dairy and livestock farms, literally.
In a nutshell, regenerative agriculture is a set of farming principles that help increase biodiversity, enrich soil instead of stripping it bare, improve watersheds, and enhance ecosystem services. This is deemed by many agriculture specialists to be the solution for the current uncontrolled depletion of topsoil.
Less plastic use and production
In no small part thanks to people’s awareness of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, there has been a significant decline in the amount of single-use plastic consumption in the past couple of years.
Consumers nowadays are calling out businesses that still needlessly use disposable plastics, and they are talking with their wallets, by not buying anything from stores that still use single-use plastic products.
With these upcoming eco trends, it is highly likely that people will have a more sustainable living in the next few years.