With the dawn of a new year, many people feel a sense of renewal and a newfound motivation to improve their lives – whether that means starting a new healthy eating plan or updating their homes. With the emphasis on new beginnings this time of year, there is no better time to focus on becoming eco-friendlier in your daily life.
As more people become aware of the repercussions of climate change and other environmental issues, the demand for eco-friendly products has continued to skyrocket. The eco-trends of 2019 are seeing everything from bioengineered “meat” products to a new breed of electric vehicles now available to help consumers and businesses go green in more ways than they ever thought possible.
Eco-Trends in Food Production
In recent years, the impact of our food supply on the environment has become impossible to deny. While most people have been aware that plastic packaging used for storing processed food products is a major issue, fewer were aware of the impact livestock and factory farming has had on the environment. By some estimates, cattle intended for dairy and meat consumption can be attributed to more carbon emissions than all forms of transportation combined. While eating a vegan diet is often touted as the ideal solution, scientists are coming up with alternatives for those who are unwilling to give up their favorite meat products. From 3D printing of meatless “steak” products to cell-based meats that are grown in a lab instead of on the farm, there are plenty of conventional meat alternatives on the horizon.
Some of these meats are made from animal cells that have been cultured and replicated in a laboratory, while others are made from plant products. Even big players in conventional factory farming like Tyson foods are getting in on the bioengineered meat trend.
The way foods are packaged and stored is also changing with the times. Pockeat storage bags give a stylish alternative to conventional plastic sandwich and freezer bags. They come in cute patterns and prints, and they’re fully washable and reusable.
Even brands like Corona beer are getting on the bandwagon with biodegradable can packaging vs. traditional plastic rings. Other brands are encouraging consumers to change the way they source their food altogether. IKEA has teamed up with designer Tim Dixon to create urban farming related products to promote local sourcing of food, even for those who live in cities. These products are slated to roll out in IKEA stores nationwide in 2021.
Last year also saw the debate on the removal of plastic straws from some fast food and coffee chain restaurants. To appease those who are die-hard disposable straw fans (or those who need them due to special needs), Stora Enso and Sulapac has created a slender, biodegradable option made from biocomposite material. They have the same “bendy” texture of the fan favorite, but they’re completely biodegradable.
Eco-Trends in Transportation
It’s no secret that carbon emissions from vehicles are a major source of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere, and are a contributing factor to global warming. More people are making the switch to hybrid and fully electric cars, but until everyone can do so, Hsuan Ting Huang and Tsung Ying Hsieh created a breathable barrier wall to help trap and filter carbon emissions. The walls, which would be placed alongside highways, contain green moss which naturally attracts and filters carbon dioxide and other contaminants. It also adds a touch of nature to city highways and reduces noise pollution to surrounding areas.
For those who are ready to make their commutes without the use of an automobile, electric scooters are becoming all the rage for city dwellers. The new Unagi scooter, for instance, can sustain a speed of over 15 mph and can travel over 15 miles on a single charge. It’s available in both single and twin-engine models, with the dual engine option being capable of traveling inclines of up to 15 degrees!
High-end buyers who still prefer a more conventional vehicle will also find greener options. The updated Range Rover features a variety of leather alternative interior options ranging from plant-based fabrics to Kvadrat wool.
Eco-Trends in Fashion and Clothing
Everyone from well-known fashion brands and new up-and-comers are developing new and innovative clothing trends for the eco-conscious consumer. The North Face recently developed their new ThermoBall Eco line of coats and jackets. The new technology uses synthetic fibers to hold in heat, similar to natural insulative materials.
Another way fashion is becoming more eco-friendly this year is through the sharing of existing clothes. An estimated 26 billion pounds of clothing winds up in landfills every year. Many of these clothing items are still perfectly usable. New sites like Tulerie let users share clothes from their own closets with other users who are looking for affordable wardrobe staples to rent.
Eco-Trends in Home and Garden
If there is one place eco-friendly living is most important, it’s in your home. Not only are using non-toxic and all natural cleaning products all the rage (and growing more popular by the day), but home décor trends continue to point toward a more sustainable, upcycled and eco-friendly future. Vintage items are highly popular, both for their antique appeal and for upcycling purposes. Repurposing items is also a popular way to reuse them – jars, bottles and other disposable items, for instance, are used in place of vases and other décor items.
For those who aren’t DIY types, some companies are taking the lead in reusing recycled materials themselves. Nuovo Nuovo uses old plywood to craft attractive storage solutions for the home office, all of which have a natural finish and plenty of organizational potentials.
Dust London, a collection of modern décor pieces made from tea leaves and a non-toxic binder, was designed by Michael McManus and Matt Grant to reduce waste while offering clean, eco-responsible vases, coasters and more. Items combine geometric shapes and warm hues to enhance virtually any interior.
If you’re looking for a more rustic appearance, you may appreciate the Ignorance is Bliss’ project, the brainchild of designer Agne Kucerenkaite. The collection was developed in response to the amount of metal waste dumped into the soil from the remediation industry – estimates put it at up to 30,200 tons per year. Ways to dispose of this waste are limited, but Kucerenkaite has developed a way to use it in the creation of dyes to color her ceramic décor.
Are you looking to increase your eco-friendliness and reduce your carbon footprint in the new year? What steps are you taking?