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Anders Bekeken

Best of Green Awards: 2022 Eco Trends by Treehugger

Geschreven op 11-1-2022 - Erik van Erne. Geplaatst in Duurzaam Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

The future we want is not one filled with robot housekeepers and flying cars. The future we want is filled with things like fewer greenhouse gas emissions, less plastic pollution, clean water, and a planet not in peril. Is that too much to ask?

With this in mind, for the January edition of the Best of Green Awards, we thought we’d put a spin on the standard. Rather than looking at all the things we’ve tested and reviewed in the past, this time we will be celebrating the concepts that are heading where we think the future needs to go. Think of it as awards meet a 2022 trends piece meets a “how to save the world” story.

Treehugger editors and writers have their fingers on the pulse of sustainability. We read the latest research upon, if not before, publication. We are as tuned into nascent sustainability movements as we are to the long-established ones. We have the insider scoop on new products, often even prior to being launched. We read the books; we engage with scientists, writers, thinkers, and doers. Basically, we have a comprehensive understanding of sustainability garnered through a grand mix of disciplines and angles. So we put our heads together and selected the concepts that we expect to see become the norm in the upcoming year.

Granted, some may be aspirational in nature (hint: go away already, bitcoin and dangerous pickup trucks!) but otherwise, we’re pretty confident about what our crystal ball reveals.

In terms of fashion innovations, look for plant- and waste-based materials to become mainstream. We’ve seen the food industry leading the charge to incorporate agricultural waste into glorious new products; now it’s fashion’s turn. Think Rens Original sneakers … made from coffee grounds! We will also be seeing more innovative alternative plant-based textiles and vegan leather products that aren’t 100% plastic. Look for mainstream usage of Piñatex, made from pineapple leaf fibers; Desserto, which is made from cactus; and Mylo, that’s made from mycelium, the vegetative part of a mushroom.

Companies can’t sell food without a standardized nutrition label, and for good reason: People want to know what’s in their food. We know how much electricity a product uses, but there is not a peep about how much energy was used and how much carbon was emitted in making the thing, what we call embodied or upfront carbon. And this is often much bigger than the carbon emitted in operating a device; according to Apple, which publishes this information, an iPhone 11 has 80 kilograms of carbon emissions during its full lifecycle. Only 13% of that comes from operating it; fully 83% comes from making it. If you care at all about carbon emissions, you need to know this data—and carbon labels are the way to do it. Unilever is doing this for their products; every company should be required to.

American architect Buckminster Fuller famously wondered: “How much does your building weigh? A question often used to challenge architects to consider how efficiently materials were used for the space enclosed.” He understood the importance of lightweighting, which is exactly what it sounds like: making things that weigh less. It’s big in transportation because lighter vehicles get better gas mileage. That’s why Ford builds its F150 out of aluminum. When you start thinking about embodied or upfront carbon emissions, weight matters even more. Engineer Avi Reichental says, “Lightweighting is the wave of the future, and the automotive and transportation industries are leading the charge.” But everyone else, including architects, needs to catch up fast.

Building and transportation aren’t the only industries having all the lightweighting fun. We’ve been seeing more and more cleaning products in concentrated formulations, a direction first seen in laundry detergent. Now we are seeing everything from “just add water” dish soap to all-purpose cleaner concentrates, packaged in small bottles that a consumer adds to tap water in a refillable bottle at home. But what we are loving even more than that are the completely liquid-free products that do not require a plastic bottle at all; think laundry detergent that comes in sheets and swatches or toilet bowl cleaners that come in dissolvable sachets.

Gigafactories around the world are delivering giga-quantities of lithium-ion batteries filled with liquid or gelled electrolytes. They have to be charged carefully and relatively slowly or spiky dendrites can form and ruin the battery or cause fires. But some carmakers and battery companies are betting on solid-state batteries that they claim have twice the energy density and don’t get dendrites—and are promising that 2022 is their year, although others, like the battery guy at Tesla, says dream on. They are sticking with Li-Ion but making them bigger and cheaper. Meanwhile, in Sweden where they have lots of trees, Ligna Energy is actually building batteries out of wood. Source: Treehugger

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