As industries, governments, and brands take the climate crisis more seriously, expect to see a bigger shift toward sustainable products and practices. Here are the sustainability trends we predict you’ll see in 2022.
2021 was rife with climate catastrophes, a global pandemic, political unrest, and accelerated global warming. And at the end of the year, the World Meteorological Organization released a “State of the Global Climate” report that predicted an increase in global sea-level rise, melting glaciers, extreme weather, and a range of socio-economic impacts in 2022. But 2021 also presented us with some glimmers of hope: programs to combat eco-anxiety, the rise of renewable materials to create more sustainable consumer goods, and innovations around cleaning up our oceans and reducing our carbon footprints.
So as we head into 2022, what new sustainability trends and innovations can we expect to see next? Here are a few we’re excited about:
In 2022, data analytics will be a big trend in sustainability, helping large and small companies alike make decisions about supply chain management, reducing their carbon footprint, and more. Already, data analytics systems have become so advanced that they can help us look at large data sets and integrated networks to discern where the most impactful changes might occur — which is great news for businesses who hope to lessen their environmental impact in the coming years. Data will also be used to map the behaviors and risk factors of wildfires, manage conservation, and show us how global warming is affecting our planet, which may provide us with detailed information about prevention.
One such example to keep an eye on is Salo Sciences, a conservation tech company that uses satellites and science to map ecosystems at high resolution and guide investments in nature. “We really deeply believe in our bones that there’s a need for the technology we’re building. We know this is a key solution for our climate, and we desperately want to get it out there,” says CEO David Marvin.
In 2022, experts predict that sustainability will become more attractive to investors as conscious consumption gains popularity. According to Deloitte, 53 percent of financial service firms say that sustainability is central to investment decisions, both on a high level for fund managers and on a consumer level. If brands implement more transparent sustainability practices, customers and investors alike are likely to find that brand more appealing. Globally, 85 percent of consumers indicate they have shifted their purchasing power toward sustainability in the past five years, according to a 2021 study by Simon-Kucher & Partners.
And Forbes predicts that in 2022, organizations will try to eliminate or completely reduce the environmental costs of doing business. Likely, we’ll see this play out in a variety of ways, like decarbonizing the supply chain, reusing materials to reduce waste, and utilizing recycled textiles like REPREVE® for clothing and other fabrics.
If you haven’t already adopted an eco-friendly lifestyle, 2022 might be your year. Experts predict that more and more, individuals will begin to make small habit shifts to live more sustainably and reduce their carbon footprints. Expect to see your friends and family choosing local seasonal foods more often, reducing food waste by composting and planning meals in advance, buying an electric vehicle, or even working toward a zero-waste lifestyle.
This is also likely to trickle down, prompting a shift in the real estate and construction industries toward building with sustainable materials to reduce emissions and environmental impact. Think solar panels, smaller square footage, sustainable materials like hemp insulation, vertical gardens, heat pumps, and more.
According to Google data provided to Grist, there was a 565 percent increase in Google searches for climate anxiety in 2021. Climate anxiety, or eco-anxiety, is defined as “the chronic fear of environmental cataclysm that comes from observing the seemingly irrevocable impact of climate change and the associated concern for one’s future and that of the next generations.” Sound familiar?
As a result, in 2022, we’re likely to see more programming geared toward helping those struggling with eco-anxiety better deal with feelings of dread. This may include online courses and communities, in-person events, books, specialized therapy, and more. And this is a good thing — a mentally stressed society can’t deal with much less come up with solutions for an environmentally stressed planet.
Natural Grocers predicts that in 2022, people will begin to make diet choices that are more sustainable. But beyond that, there will be a focus on limiting the impacts of air pollution through the foods we eat; air pollution leads to seven million deaths each year. This means consumers will opt for local goods, buy organic products, and eat foods with foundational nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants. What does this look like? The folks at Blue Zones, who study the healthiest regions of the world, highlight foods like cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale, bok choy, and cabbage, as being the most helpful for detoxing the body. Air pollution often goes unacknowledged, but as Covid-19 has brought a heightened awareness to the ways we deal with our health, eating a healthier, more balanced diet to help our bodies fight off illness will become even more important to people living in polluted areas.
Read more: The True Cost of Air Pollution
Finally, as 2022 arrives, mental health experts expect a focus on addressing burnout, which has been a huge issue in 2021, especially for those who are taking care of children or elderly parents while trying to work during a global pandemic. Burnout, which is defined as an occupational phenomenon that includes depletion, exhaustion, cynicism, and increased mental distance, can affect our ability to engage with the world. Without the ability to engage, we lose our agency in the fight for a healthier planet. Keep an eye out for psychological and mental health-focused efforts to combat burnout and return you to the land of sustainable, balanced work and life.
The EPA recently released a strategic plan to ban all PFAs, which will mean big changes in 2022. Also known as “forever chemicals,” PFAs are long-lasting toxic chemicals that stay in the environment indefinitely, can negatively affect human health, and are used in everything from skincare and non-stick pans to fast food packaging. This has pushed brands to publicize the non-toxic (or non-PFA) products in their lineups. Experts predict that this trend will stick; in the coming years, “non-toxic” will become more than just a buzzword. As the EPA begins to ban products that are toxic, brands will be forced to put their efforts behind products that are more sustainable and better for the environment. Sounds like a win-win to us.
Read more: 7 Easy Ways to Create a Non-Toxic Kitchen
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