Sustainability Trends For 2021

As we scoot towards the end of 2020, thanking our lucky stars that it’ll soon be behind us, it’s an exciting time for considering the sustainability trends which lay ahead.

Whilst 2020 has challenged us enormously, in terms of sustainability there’s been good news and bad. Watching people plough through mountains of disposable face masks and gloves and then discarding them with abandon has had us worrying for local ecosystems and wildlife. However, with less global travel there have been lower levels of emissions, and we’ve even been able to celebrate exciting times such as clearer water in Venice and blue skies in Delhi.

It’s fascinating to consider how the impact of 2020 will shape our eco-friendly trends for 2021.

Top sustainability trends for 2021

Some of the trends we are seeing are building on the old, seeing sustainability and an eco-friendly approach becoming more common. There are also other newly emerging sustainability and eco-friendly trends we expect to develop in 2021.

1. Sustainability is embedded in brand culture

With companies such as L’Oréal releasing its ‘For the Future’ plan, finally it feels like some of the bigger companies are accepting that sustainability needs to be a central part of what they stand for. Care for the environment should simply be a given, but we are beginning to see it more properly embedded in brand culture. Consumers are increasingly conscious and they will choose brands carefully based on their ethics.

2. Clean beauty matters

The pandemic hit and suddenly we were left washing our hands far more frequently, and slathering on hand sanitiser. We began realising that ingredient lists made for some uncomfortable reading. As such, a trend we expect to fully continue into 2021 and beyond is greater expectation to know about what goes into our beauty products and a greater drive for all natural, such as with vegan eco-friendly soaps.

3. Zero-waste is gaining real momentum

At Wearth, we’ve long been behind the zero-waste movement. With zero-waste pop-ups now a common sight in small towns and villages, and no longer the preserve of those living in eco-conscious pockets of cities, more and more people are aiming to live a zero-waste lifestyle.

More and more people are coming to understand the horror of how long plastic takes to decompose. In 2021, you can expect to find it increasingly easier to choose a zero-waste lifestyle. And with zero waste online options, it’s easier for everyone.

4. And you’ll see less packaging

Alongside this, pressure is mounting on typically less eco-friendly brands and retailers to ditch the packaging or reduce it considerably. Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies are taking notable steps to reduce the amount of packaging they use. Consumers are increasingly choosing products with less packaging or more sustainable packaging.

5. Offsetting impact

One of the big eco-friendly trends of a few years ago centred on how individuals could offset their carbon footprint. So, whilst reducing one’s carbon footprint was important, people also started to recognise that offsetting what they weren’t able to reduce was a way towards carbon neutrality.

As we head towards 2021, large brands are now taking on the same approach. They are aiming for carbon neutrality. There is even some evidence that some brands are taking this even further and are pushing towards carbon negativity.

Brewdog is a beer brand removing more carbon from the air than they emit.

6. Saying no to fast-fashion

Cheap fast-fashion is notoriously bad on so many levels. It’s bad for the environment and it’s bad as far as ethics are concerned.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of this and more and more brands are providing the solution. There is now genuine choice in sustainable fashion and we are seeing sustainable clothing trends going into the mainstream. You’re no longer limited to hessian sacks, but have real genuine choice when it comes to ethical and sustainable clothing and accessories!

7. Strides ahead in getting rid of plastic

The anti-plastic movement has seen huge waves of its own trends over the last few years, such as changing people’s ideas about plastic straws. But more anti-plastic campaigns will come onto our horizon in 2021 and beyond.

We can see increasing movements to ban single-use plastic bottles and greater uptake of reusable options. Late in 2020, the UK finally banned the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.

Other anti-plastic trends going mainstream in 2021 and 2022 include a doubling of the single-use plastic bag charge in April 2021 and a push for increased use of recycled content in plastic packaging from April 2022.

8. The next generation are getting more vocal

As we head into 2021, the younger generations are getting more vocal about sustainability, and so they should be. They are inheriting a planet in need of a lot of TLC and recuperation. We can expect campaigns and activism to be increasingly driven by younger people.

9. Transparency will matter even more

Thanks to COVID, consumers were forced to spend more time online than in bricks and mortar shops in 2020. This means that for the first time for many, people have more actively considered a brand and a purchase more than ever before. They were drawn to local providers and wanted to see short local supply chains. The businesses which have survived are those which have built authentic and transparent relationships with their consumers. There is no room for greenwashing for brands which want to survive. Consumers want the truth and they know the technology exists to give them it.

10. Working from home

Lastly, we can’t complete a list of sustainability trends for 2021 without mentioning working from home. Coronavirus has pushed many of us to work from home. With it, fewer commutes are being made. We’re using our cars less for short journeys. Despite the potential to safely return to the office being on the horizon, we can assume that many will remain working from home to some degree, and will want to do so citing eco-friendly reasons.

Whilst there is lots of good news ahead in terms of sustainability trends, we really need to keep our eyes open. The impact of coronavirus restrictions on the economy has been, and will be, intense. And we know that recessions can be bad for environmentalism. Sustainability may find itself struggling to maintain its shift into the mainstream. It will take the collective efforts of many to ensure that strides forward aren’t lost.