Today’s Solutions: August 17, 2022

Green living and sustainability are at the forefront of many of our minds. This mentality is reflected in the droves of people who over the course of the many lockdowns have: pledged to be green-minded about their transportation options, choose more plant-based milk and food, and change their general trajectory towards sustainable living in general. According to green living experts, these are the six top sustainability trends that will dominate this year.

Impact-focused finance

One of the most effective ways that we can combat climate change is to transfer our money to environmentally friendly organizations that prioritize ethical practices and support the green revolution. Experts believe that more people will be set on avoiding financial institutions that invest in fossil fuels and instead put their money into ethical banks.

In fact, before the COP26 climate summit that took place last November, almost 40 percent of people polled by Triodos Bank UK said that the upcoming conference was making them rethink how they can use their money more sustainable going forward.

“People will become savvier in 2022 and realize that banking is about more than just planting a tree for every account opened or having a card made with recycled plastic,” says the head of retail banking at Triodos UK, Garth Griffiths. “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.”

Plant-based food

Here at The Optimist Daily, we’ve shared many stories on the remarkable progress that plant-based alternatives have made in recent years. These days it’s not hard to find imitation meat, fish, cheese, and other dairy products, so ‘Climatarians’—people who are reimagining their diets with a focus on reducing their carbon footprint—have plenty of food to choose from.

Vegetarianism and veganism are also in the spotlight in fine dining, with multiple planted-based restaurants being awarded prestigious Michelin stars.

“Feeling frustrated at the lack of action from governments and corporations, people are looking at what action they can take themselves,” points out 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.”

Products and companies that put nature first

Experts expect that consumers will be shifting towards brands that are engaged in regenerative practices, are passionate about rebuilding and conserving our world’s biodiversity, and are focused on restoring ecosystems and communities.

“People are becoming much more aware of what is in the products they choose to buy from, from skincare to homeware, and value is being placed on non-plastic alternatives like wood, linen, and so on,” states Georgina Wilson-Powell, editor of Pebble, a sustainable living magazine. “There’s also a renewed appreciation of artisan goods, handmade products, and locally sourced items.”

Sustainable fashion

With the time we spent staying indoors during the pandemic, many of us finally had nothing but time to reflect on our lifestyles. One of the habits many of us have decided to kick is fast fashion. According to a survey by consultants McKinsey, 58 percent of people are now less concerned with fashion, and over 70 percent say that they intend to maintain their clothes so they can use them for longer.

In 2022, more people will be looking out for durable pieces for their minimalist wardrobe, and if they’re not buying second-hand, consumers are more likely to scrutinize clothing labels to ensure they are buying eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo fibers, and even algae, from brands that are environmentally focused.

Circular patterns of consumption

Consumers will be more concerned with curbing mass consumption by choosing retailers that work within circular models. This means going for businesses that are concerned with reducing their waste by repairing, reusing, and refilling as much as possible. Even the beauty industry is on board, with names like The Body Shop and Diptyque introducing “keep forever” products, and fragrance brands such as Le Labo and Molton Brown offering scent refills.

Mindful living

The pandemic has forced us to truly reconsider our attitudes toward mental health, mental resilience, and work-life balance, which resulted in people finally having the chance to take stock and rearrange their life values. More and more people are reconnecting with nature and the outdoors and are prioritizing practicing mindfulness. An international study that included 24 countries discovered that almost 60 percent of people are now more mindful of how they personally impact the environment and that this trend will only continue and flourish in 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.”

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