Although Kermit the Frog once sang, “It’s not easy being green,” over the past decade, it sure has been cool to live green.
Ever since An Inconvenient Truth debuted in 2006, there seems to be one eco-friendly product or innovation that takes the U.S. by storm each year and enters the mainstream. In many cases, it’s a product that has been around for years that becomes popular due to legislation, lower prices or a scientific health study.
Even without a crystal ball, we can look at some of the green trends that appear to be on the rise heading into 2018.
What Makes a Green Trend?
In order to identify which green trend is about to take off, it’s helpful to look back at how previous green trends came to play. Here are the biggest green trends since 2007 and the trigger that started each:
|2007||Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL)||Legislation, price||Highest U.S. CFL sales of all-time|
|2008||Proper disposal of medications||Scientific study||DEA starts national drug collection events|
|2009||Television recycling||Legislation||Consumers stop buying CRT screens and recycle old ones after digital switch|
|2010||Metal water bottles/ Bisphenol A (BPA)||Scientific study||Drop in reusable plastic water bottle sales due to BPA concerns|
|Price||Cyber Monday catches Black Friday for consumer interest in holiday shopping|
|2012||Hybrid/electric cars||Price||High gas prices, new models lead to 73 percent increase in hybrid sales over the previous year|
|2013||Fracking||Legislation, social media||New tech for acquiring natural gas leads to countless protests over environmental impact|
|2014||Farm-to-table food||General trend||Americans demand (and pay for) locally sourced foods|
|2015||Graywater||Legislation, natural disaster||California droughts make graywater a hot topic to water plants and grow crops|
|2016||Dakota Access Pipeline||Legislation, social media||Native American tribe protest goes viral on social media|
|2017||Flexitarianism||Scientific study||Documentaries like What the Health lead Americans to consider more plant-based diets|
There’s no real pattern to discern from the past 11 years, other than the fact that these green trends were fueled by new laws, health studies, social media or a reduction in price. All of these circumstances are difficult to predict.
Candidates for 2018’s Greenest Trend
Before we crown a winner, here are a few contenders for the biggest green fad of 2018:
- Companies embrace telecommuting: Yes, working from home already feels big, but only 3 percent of the U.S. workforce got to work from home in 2015. The environmental benefits are obvious, from reducing car emissions to limiting office waste. But companies are finally starting to see the cost savings in telecommuting, and as the unemployment rate falls, working remotely will be a top way to recruit new talent in industries like technology and health care. Expect to see fewer employees around the office next year, and for a positive reason.
- Emphasis on food product labeling: Consumers have already shown they want to know where their food comes from and its ingredients, but labels can tell so much more. The FDA will be requiring food manufacturers to print new nutrition labels starting in 2018 that provide a more accurate account of nutritional elements. Whole Foods has also announced that all its food products must provide genetically modified organisms (GMO) information on the label by September 2018. Expect to spend more time at the grocery store researching what goes in your body.
- The solar revolution takes hold: Until recently, most of the investment in solar technology was restricted to commercial buildings and the richest homeowners. But the price of solar panels continues to fall, and it’s not just for buildings anymore. Some of the coolest innovations in electronics are due to solar power. Expect to see more solar-powered backpacks, watches and city trash cans, as Americans embrace the power of the sun.
And the Winner Is . . .
Emphasis on food product labeling
This trend has everything consumers care about when it comes to green trends: government involvement, health concerns and even the price impact as health care cost increases necessitate better nutrition. Plus, in two of the past four years, the green trend was related to diet.