From the way we live our lives within society to how we position ourselves in the world and our relationship with nature on a more comprehensive level, the new eco-trends for 2018 point to some behavioral changes and calculated actions that have to be put in practice urgently in order to secure our future.
Protecting the environment today is not just a concern about the preservation of nature. It is more and more the use of a wide range of sustainable practices that translate into a way of life, and it’s transforming the relations of each individual with the people close to them and society. It also covers the adoption of sustainable practices in the industry itself, with the sequestration of the carbon produced by machines, and in the companies that are gradually changing their business models to accommodate more eco-friendly activities.
Presently, there are several currents of thought with on the matter: conservationism, which consists in the thought that the priority is nature, with a concern of conservation for the other generations; ecological developmentalism, consisting in the thought that the world can continue to grow economically in a sustainable way; and eco capitalism that corresponds to capitalist thinking of gaining advantages with environmental problems. Issuing from all of the above cited there are several main eco-trends already being studied and implemented, about small changes that we can easily integrate into our everyday lives or regarding advanced methods for the conservation of nature and the natural resources of our planet.
Changes in our everyday lives
The vastness of the environment means that there is many different ways in which people can contribute to keeping it clean and treating it right.
Since waste continues to be one of the biggest problems as far as ecology is concerned, probably one of the major trends for the next year will be the use of new eco-friendly packaging concepts, by companies and brands from all industries. Packaging is an essential part of the global economy, and there’s no way around that fact. “The Future of Sustainable Packaging to 2018” report (Smithers Pira) details market sizes, projections and five-year sustainable packaging trends to 2018. According to the study, the most common sustainable packaging trends are: downsizing/light-weighting of packaging, increased recycling and waste recovery; increased use of recycled content; increased use of renewably sourced materials; and improvements in packaging and logistical efficiency. Also in this report, the global market for sustainable packaging is forecast to reach $244 billion by 2018. And will continue to grow in importance over the decade to 2023 as sustainable packaging is predicted to become the number one challenge facing companies, beating cost and other issues.
There is also a growing trend for new product materials based on circular and low carbon economy. Bioplastics from natural components, made from a variety of natural feedstock including corn, potatoes, rice, tapioca, palm fiber, wood cellulose, recovered building materials or clothing manufacture from waste are some of the examples.
Waste is an issue for all of us. We are all responsible for it and, without the right measures for dealing with our waste in the safest way possible, its negative effects will affect us all.
However, with simple changes in our everyday lives we can make a huge difference and reduce our impact in the environment and our carbon footprint. Reducing our dependence on plastics is a good way to safeguard our health and our planet. Also being conscious of what we purchase and smart shopping, by avoiding over packaged goods and buying in bulk whenever possible. And determining if any of the products that we are throwing away could be reused, recycled or replaced by non-disposable versions.
Better world, better future
Regarding Nature there is also a set of new trends that will make a huge difference to our planet’s health.
It is now known that all over the world coral reefs are dying or getting greatly damaged by the warming upgrade on the oceans temperature. These warmer temperatures are not well tolerated by bacteria that live among the corals. Thus, scientists are focusing on replacing bacteria chased out by heat, with other species more tolerant of the new temperatures, either natural or genetically engineered ones. Although it seems promising, nevertheless this practice could lead to unforeseeable consequences such as disruption of ecosystems.
From these news about the ocean to the news on land, one of the up-coming trends for next year is about using microbes in agriculture. Special bacteria and fungi apparently are potential agricultural developers and can side out to help kick back pests or to activate growth in crops. But at the same time that research advances, the same questions arise, like how it would affect existent ecosystems for other unaimed species, ecosystems, soils and more.
Another undoubted revolutionary advance are bionic leaves. All pants have the energy conversion and its storage problem well managed. They capture photons from the sun, use them to split water into hydrogen and oxygen to make sugars, and then extract new energy from the sugars. The new “artificial leaf” technologies also uses sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, but on top of it then feeds the hydrogen to bacteria that make energy-storing alcohol and can converse energy with an efficiency close to 10 times more than that of nature’s version. The technology leads to an amazing new approach to capturing, storing and using solar energy in remote places away from the electrical grids.
Still regarding energy, we have to include lithium air batteries as the new big thing. Without dense energy storage systems there is a huge barrier to the adoption on a large scale of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which become only sporadically available, as well as to the improvement of technologies such as electric vehicles. This new trend on the energy-storage body of findings, is called lithium-air batteries and can allegedly hold 10 times as much energy per volume as its formerly predecessors the lithium-ion counterparts. Scientists estimate that the technology needs to be perfected, but when it does it could take energy markets to a whole other level of efficiency with enormous impact on water and land use, quality and more.
Last, but with a great importance, researchers in Iceland discovered a promising strategy for storing carbon dioxide underground, by dissolving it in water and injecting it into basaltic rocks. There is hope this project could play a role in reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
So, to sum it up, in order to guarantee the future of humanity, the solution of environmental issues has been considered increasingly urgent and depends on the relationship between society and nature, in a collective and individual dimension.
Is 2018 going to be a greener year? What progress will there be in environmental matters? Tomorrow is always uncertain, especially in the environmental field, where disasters are the order of the day. Leaks of crude oil in the sea, devastating fires, fatal breakdowns in nuclear power plants … And it is no less worrisome that constant, silent pollution, which is deforesting, emitting greenhouse gases and extinguishing species.
Nevertheless, for eco-trends, more than often “a little” means “a lot”. Any action that comprises lowering our ecological impact means a bigger, positive impact for our planet, and will help us move toward a sustainable future.