Sustainability — it’s a buzzword everywhere. It’s now a part of our contemporary culture, and something that schools, businesses, nonprofits, and organizations around the world are pursuing each and every day. But, what the heck does sustainability really mean?
What is Sustainability?
By definition, sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.
Okay, got it. Now, why is sustainability important? Let’s take a look at the following statistics: 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year, 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s, 73% of beach litter worldwide is plastic, and over 75% of waste is recyclable, but only about 30% of it is recycled. Obviously these distressing circumstances are why we have pollution, rise in carbon emissions, climate change, and sea level rise. 92% of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution exceeds safe limits. By 2030, pollution levels will more than double. The upshot? What does this all mean for us? Well, we need to get serious about sustainability.
Let’s Take the First Step in Sustainability
In short, sustainable lifestyles are calling, and it’s up to us to answer the call! In the words of young climate activist Greta Thunberg, “We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change — and it has to start today.” Read on for 5 sustainability trends to watch in 2022, fulfilling the 3 pillars of sustainability: Economic, Environmental, and Social!
Did you know that a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide per year? Motor vehicles are the single biggest source of atmospheric pollution, contributing an estimated 14% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning.
Electric vehicles are just one solution to these threatening issues — and they’re finally gaining popularity. There are many advantages to driving electric, like saving money on gas, protecting the environment, better performance, and even, lower maintenance.
In fact, in the United Kingdom, there are more electric charging stations than petrol stations. Go, UK, go! Projections show that the US will catch up soon. Worldwide sales of electric passenger vehicles are projected to surpass 10.5 million this year, about 4 million above 2021 levels.
Net-Zero? So Last Year!
You may have heard the term “net-zero,” which refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. When the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away, we reach net-zero! This is important because it helps cut the carbon we produce, attacking climate change by reducing global warming. In 2021, net-zero commitments covered one-fifth of the world’s largest corporations and 68% of global GDP. The net-zero challenge isn’t going anywhere, but it’s time to be climate positive!
What is climate positive? Also known as carbon negative, climate positive means that we go beyond net-zero emissions to create environmental benefits by actually removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And things are looking good for 2022! A company called Nucao produces climate-positive chocolate bars — yum! Colleges like Bates in Maine have announced plans to become climate-positive by 2030. Coldplay plans to hold their 2022 global tour in a climate-positive way, and the 2024 Paris Olympics has vowed to be the first “carbon-negative” games! Now, it’s your turn — check out this Forbes article on creating a climate-positive company and hop on the train. The electric train, that is!
Over 30% of manmade greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the food sector, and packaging alone accounts for over 60 million tons of carbon emissions annually. Both local and national governments are beginning to pass regulations about the single-use plastic packaging, which produces about 25 million tons of greenhouse gasses. Because of this, we can expect a true reimagination of the packaging industry. The possibilities for sustainable options and alternatives are endless!
Companies like McDonald’s, H&M, P&G, and Apple are paving the way with paper-based packaging solutions. And glass is making a comeback for household goods and beverages! However, we think the star of the show for 2022 are bioplastics, made out of renewable and biodegradable materials. It’s now estimated that the global bioplastics packaging market is projected to be valued at $34 billion dollars by 2024! For your own home and lifestyle, check out these nine sustainable packaging strategies.
Rise in Plant-Based Diets
Meat consumption, especially excessive meat consumption, causes harmful effects to our environment. In fact, meat production and consumption alone is equivalent to all the driving and flying of every car, truck, and plane in the world.
In the last decade, plant-based diets have grown in popularity — and for good reason. The environmental benefits are remarkable. Just 3% of Americans surveyed by Gallup in 2018 said they were vegan, up from 2% in 2012, and 5% identified as vegetarians. Vegan food and living suggests that over a third of Brits want to switch to a plant-based diet in 2022, and CleanTechnica tells us that plant based foods will surge, with more men making the switch this year.
If you’re ready to make the switch but not sure where to start, check out our recent blog with six steps to move toward a plant-based diet in 2022.
Better Businesses Driving Change for Sustainability
Let’s talk corporate social responsibility, or CSR. Is it important? We think yes! Henry David Thoreau said it best: “Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”
Although regulations exist to prevent businesses from exploiting our natural resources and further harming the environment, we’ve seen a number of companies and corporations commit to living out their CSR (corporate social responsibility) in groundbreaking ways. When we’re talking sustainability, Sogeti has predicted the following 2022 trends in CSR: “Carbon offsetting initiatives will grow; renewable energy will become the backbone of delivering IT services; climate risk models will be widespread and transparent, and data will play a stronger role than ever before.”
It’s no secret that businesses are beginning to pave the way for the future of sustainability, setting the tone for the generations to come — especially in the world of fashion. Makeena connected with Elias Jiser, an Environmental Science major in the Boston College Class of 2024. Elias weighs in: “Clothing brands are transitioning to more environmentally friendly practices like using recycled materials or even planting trees for every product that’s purchased. Naturebacks is a good example.” Naturebacks recently launched a Flip-Trip bracelet program that inspires consumers to travel responsibly and embrace the great outdoors, while supporting various land conservation and preservation efforts.
We at Makeena, a Certified B-Corp, are also committed to sustainable practices. We’re a cashback app that works to connect you to better-for-you brands that care about the consumer and the environment. Not only that, you can earn cash while you support our partner brands! Check us out, and soon, you’ll be rewarded for your own eco-friendly shopping purchases. We’re all in this together — and you can help us be the change we want to see in the world!