Sustainability trends that will shape 2022 and beyond

What is the world going to look like by the end of the year and which sustainability trends are going to be the next Big Thing? There are several movements towards a cleaner, greener tomorrow that are accelerating rapidly – the potential to reduce carbon emissions is enormous.

Here is a quick summary of 8 trends that are shaping a more sustainable future for our planet and generations to come.

1. Forget carbon neutral – climate positive is where it’s at

While carbon neutral means that an activity releases net zero carbon emissions into the atmosphere, climate positive (also known as carbon negative) goes one step further. Climate positive actions go beyond achieving net zero carbon emissions by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to create an environmental benefit. Simply, it’s about giving back more to the environment than you take.

Many companies around the world have already implemented and are consciously looking at ways to increase their carbon offset by committing to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net zero by 2030. Which is in line with more than 70 countries, backed by the UN, pledging to reach net-zero global emissions by 2050 for a healthier, zero carbon world.

2. Electric vehicles lead clean transportation efforts

There has been a massive shift towards all-electric vehicles (EVs) since the Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf arrived on the market a little over a decade ago, following the popularity of hybrids. An EV runs purely on electricity. Instead of the typical internal combustion engine, it has an electric motor that must be plugged in to a wall outlet or charging equipment. EVs are categorised as zero-emission vehicles because they produce no direct exhaust emissions.

3. Plogging

No, it’s not a typo. It’s a Swedish fitness movement that combines jogging and picking up rubbish. It originated in Sweden around 2016 as an organised activity and has picked up momentum in other countries around the world – and for good reason. Not only does this lifestyle trend boost your own health, but it saves the planet at the same time.

How to plan a ‘Plog’? It’s as simple as heading out on your usual route, but with your gloves and a bag, collecting rubbish as you go.  Don’t be fooled though, plogging is definitely not a rubbish way to get fit. Copying the actions of a squat, lunge and burpee as you run and reach down to gather trash, this is one workout that actually deserves a proud and sweaty selfie.

4. Joining the ‘Zero Waste’ movement

So, what is Zero Waste? It’s a way of living or doing business where people aim to eliminate their trash output completely and avoids waste in consumption. The intention is to move away from the typical linear economy function and move towards a circular economy where there are infinite possibilities in the things we use and create. This preferred system considers how a product will impact people and the planet throughout its entire lifespan from creation to disposal.

There are 5 key principles to follow in a Zero Waste lifestyle:

  • Refuse what you do not need
  • Reduce what you can’t refuse
  • Reuse instead of tossing
  • Recycle anything that can’t be reused, or refused
  • Rot what is compostable

5. Refillable bottles for everything

One way to ensure you are part of the circular economy is by utilising refillable bottles for everything you can. A daily ritual for many is grabbing a morning coffee. A Keep Cup is an easy way to reduce waste each time you purchase that boost of energy and most cafés even reward you with a small discount for doing so.

Keep your eyes peeled for other products you use regularly that can be refilled or at least make sure to recycle eligible drink bottles and cans at your local Containers for Change collection point.

6. Alternative proteins

Alternative proteins are foods, ingredients or beverages with protein derived from non-animal sources – for example meat, seafood and dairy. We all need protein to repair cells, build muscles and provide energy. People choose to eat alt proteins for a number of reasons – the climatarian diet is for those who wish to help stop climate change, avoid animal cruelty or to eat more consciously.

The future of our planet depends on the future of our food systems.

7. Living vertical wall gardens

For those that don’t have backyard space, a vertical garden may be the answer to bringing more greenery into your environment. Green walls bring movement and colour to a space, as well as buffering sound, diffusing harsh light, cleansing the air, providing oxygen and cooling ambient heat. They also bring mental and physical health benefits to those who spend a lot of time working or living in high density environments.

Perfect for small porches and patios, these space-saving planters have a small footprint and are an ergonomic way to grow everything from herbs to succulents – no bending or kneeling required. You can even place them indoors as well, dependent upon the amount of sunlight and what you intend to plant. Pop into your local nursery for some guidance on establishing your ‘vertical’ green thumb.

8. Keeping our furry friends plastic free too!

Become an eco-friendly pet owner and choose plastic free alternatives for your fur baby – source pet food that comes in paper bags or tins which can be recycled and grooming products with recyclable or biodegradable packaging.

To further reduce waste, you could also look at making your own pet food. Be sure to choose beds made of cotton or hessian; toys made from natural or recycled materials such as jute, recycled rubber or rope, rather than plastic. You could also reuse a worn-out shoe or old stuffed animal as a toy. It only takes a few steps to help our fur babies live an eco-friendlier lifestyle and reduce their carbon pawprint.

Has anything inspired you to enable or make a change? For even more lifestyle changes or environmentally friendly and sustainable ideas, head to LEAF on 5 June.

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