January is typically the month of reviewing the year that has been and thinking about the year to come. For some businesses it’s about their strategies and how they are tracking against budget and goal achievement (or creating new strategies), for individuals it’s about setting new goals and resolutions. So, last Friday I found myself thinking about how the year was looking for SIFT and then did some general Internet surfing (do we still surf the internet?) around the key themes and trends that others were discussing for 2011.
It seems like 2011 could be the best year yet for sustainable, low impact, healthy earth living. There are many more people consciously thinking about how they live, consume and waste. Most feel that you need to reevaluate, simplify and consume less first to then be able to live a life with more abundance (not stuff but good experiences – actually living life not living life through buying!). That less is better. This is positive.
It is definitely something we have talked about at SIFT. The need for less in order to be more. We have enough. There is a need to be consciously more grateful and really live a life aligned with our values. This will mean continuing to make changes to habits that have been ingrained in us for years (like changing from plastic to other non-disposable products, making your own skincare and homecare, growing your own food, spending more time in your community). It will still be a challenge for some but also super exciting to see a growing number of people thinking and changing. There is hope. Just imagine all of the wonderful solutions that have yet to be thought of and created.
Here are some of the other themes and trends for 2011 I found:
- Slow Living – living a mindful life, slow working, slow food and generally just taking the time to breathe and be human. More here.
- Moving from ownership to accessibility (sharing more) – do we all need our own lawnmowers, power tools, tents (just examples) – why not share. Less waste from this too! Like Zilok.
- Co-working (many businesses working in the same space. With the technology we have all we need is a desk really). More here. This allows for more flexibility and nimbleness as an organisation.
- Bikes. Yay bikes! More and more bikes. I think many would love Christchurch to be more bike friendly and there is a definite need in New Zealand for more access to European style urban bikes that many are loving in the UK, US and Europe. Like these. Some believe bikes will “save us”. They will keep us healthy, help us to be in our communities and reduce our carbon emissions massively. Frocks on Bikes is a good example of growing interest in this. Another favourite is Copenhagen Cycle Chic.
- Creativity & Amateur Design. Like Etsy and Felt and DIY and MIY (make it yourself) at home. And the Self Repair Manifesto. This comes from self-responsibility for who we are and the impact we have as well as a desire to feel more fully each day in our lives.
- Minimalism and maximalism. Separately and both at the same time. A move to reduce the amount of stuff you own (like the 100 thing challenge) while at the same time living a life of more. More genuine, authentic life experiences. This is what is important not stuff. More here and here. Nick Potter from Re-Be writes more on this here and discusses this article on Less is More by the NZ Herald’s Rebecca Barry.
- For textiles and clothing it will be about buying quality vintage or second hand clothing, refashioning and repurposing, ethical clothing and sustainable textiles as well as the trend to shopping from your own wardrobe. This will drastically reduce the amount of textile waste. And also more technology to recycle the clothing that we no longer want.
- Consumer responsibility. Be conscious about what you buy and where from (ask questions about the manufacturing, packaging, waste disposal, environment and social impacts of that product’s production). Can you buy something else for equal or better performance and have a better outcome for those who made it and the environment? Also consumer responsibility is about demanding change from the producers, manufacturers, importers and retailers. Ask, ring, write, step up and take responsibility. Like – Can chip packets come in other packaging that can be recycled or composted? We know there are solutions to styrofoam meat trays so why aren’t more people using them (or not using them at all!)? And if cow’s milk can come in plastic (recyclable) containers why can’t other forms of milk (instead of the unrecyclable tetrapak)? Or why not go back to reusable glass milk bottles…at the supermarket! Also, don’t forget to support your local farmer’s market.
- Producer Responsibility. On from consumer responsibility is producer responsibility (also called Product Stewardship Schemes – like the Agpac Plasback Programme we funded). Those companies taking responsibility for the full lifecycle of their products from manufacture to disposal will find this will add to their brand value and consumer trust – we need a lot more of this. All companies need to ask how can they lessen the impact (or create a positive impact) of the products that they produce? It is now no longer okay to not do this.
- Cradle to cradle design. William McDonough and Michael Braungart wrote the book Cradle to Cradle a few years ago and some online were saying that this type of intelligent design will start to occur more this year. William McDonough and Michael Braungart talk about intelligent design, that sustainability is just the minimum to start from, that waste=food and to just eliminate the concept of waste altogether (we like this one) and that what humans produce should be life supportive and “good for all children and all species for all time”. This is where we need to head to now. A good video on this here.
- Collective Impact & Collaboration. The key to making the changes that need to be made for a healthy earth future is lots of little actions all connected, for lots of organisations of different types to come together with individuals and communities to achieve a single goal. We can’t do it on our own.
- The widening of kindness and generosity. Moving from thinking about your small sphere of family and friends to how your actions impact your community, the communities and people of those who make what you buy, eco systems and other species. Moving from disconnect to a realisation that we are all connected (even if that link isn’t recognisable) and we are nature. What we do will ultimately impact on us.
- Green Economics and total costing. There will be progress towards including all of the costs of each aspect of a products lifecyle from production to disposal and the environmental impacts in the cost of buying that product. For many products this will show that buying local is a lot cheaper than imported. This will help to develop green technologies and the ability for those working in unsustainable industries and jobs to move to sustainable jobs.
- Redesign & Regeneration – It’s coming together but it looks like a redesigning of how our societies operate and what we value as communities and individuals is starting to emerge. Slowly. Very slowly. But there is a future. We will also start to place more emphasis on regeneration of the eco systems and species that have been depleted (many now lots) like sustainable fishing for fish for the future.
So, that is just some of what I found last week. Many of these elements we will need to foster, encourage and expand across all people in order to meet the challenges that we will face in the coming decades (two big ones – Climate Change and the Economy). SIFT will be involved in many elements from collaboration with other organisations, funding new R&D for new technologies to reduce waste through utilising recovered materials before they get dumped or creating new products that don’t get wasted. We will be keeping an eye on how things are trending across the globe.
*On the statement “We have enough” this is more about the resources we already have and should be using more efficiently and distributing more fairly.