Whilst 2019 may have sparked the concept of sustainability, the year ahead will see us revelling in this notion of restorative lifestyles. However, the weight of this eco-friendly evolution is not rested purely on individual shoulders; the commercial world maintains an essential role in helping us to realise a sustainable future. A multitude of brands and retailers are taking steps towards building strategies which have a positive impact on our environment; from reusable coffee cups through to the boom of charity shop retail.
And whilst the journey towards a fully sustainable future is far from a simple one, 2020 will further highlight companies taking the necessary steps to facilitate our desire for saving the planet.
In our modern economy, we find ourselves far more interested in the concept of experience over materialism. However, despite this evolution, there is no denying that we still maintain a desire to purchase products. The difference lies in how and why we make these purchases. Collectively, we are striving to eradicate our throwaway culture and pursue belongings which do not actively harm the environment.
This consciousness of ethically sourced products and materials has led brands towards a revolution in how they produce collections. Since inception, adidas has consistently worked to become a sustainable apparel brand and raise awareness of the ways in which we can save our planet. From their ZeroDye initiative which reduces the use of water, energy and chemicals through to their Parley for the Oceans collection which upcycles ocean plastics, the brand is taking huge steps towards a sustainable future. In 2021, the brand is due to release Futurecraft Loop - an entirely recyclable sneaker; another step towards sustaining the environment. In a similar fashion, Tretorn are acutely aware of the damage that production can cause which led to their creation of Eco Essentials; an initiative dedicated to curating product collections which are eco-friendly.
It also wouldn’t be possible to discuss the theme of sustainable products without mentioning Lush, a brand who have long been championing sustainability in the beauty sector. Whilst their entire strategies are rooted in environmentally friendly products and packaging, their recent venture into ‘naked stores’ has seen the introduction of entirely plastic free products such as solid shampoos and shower gels.
Consumers quickly feel betrayed when brands lack a desire to ethically source products, especially when a purchase leads to guilt. In 2020 and further afield brands will strengthen the relationships with their consumers through honest, transparent product sourcing which fuels sustainable lifestyles.
Brands may have expressed a desire to curate product collections which focus on the concept of recycling, but we see this extending into spaces and experiences which promote the sustainability movement.
Research highlights a growing desire to take part in memorable experiences which resonate with us, educate us and give us a sense of purpose. However, we also have a growing consciousness of how throwaway these experiences can be and have begun to seek those brands who share our concerns for the environment. Just like the product itself, many brands and designers are challenging traditional routes by exploring new ways of curating retail experiences; from the reduction in wasteful packaging through to physical spaces which leave fewer negative marks on our planet.
Nada, an independent store in Leicester, opened back in a small independent store making a big statement in the realms of environmentally friendly retail. From foodstuffs such as rice, lentils and spices through to household products such as soap and fabric conditioner, the store sells a variety of items for everyday living. However, marketed as a fully plastic-free shopping experience, customers are encouraged to bring reusable bags, jars and containers to fill from the bulk supply. Passionate not only about the environment but educating the local community on how to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle.
With a similar vision for environmental education, music festival Coachella has been focused on reconnecting with our planet since its inception. From the promotion of car pooling through to the store where currency is only recyclables and finally the energy playground where festival-goers can charge their electricals through kinetic energy; Coachella highlights how the buzz and excitement of a festival can also facilitate discussions around sustainable living.
In previous years, we may have considered the detrimental effects of plastic overuse or wasteful energy consumption, but 2020 will further heighten our consciousness around sustainability in everyday experiences.
As we become far more aware of damage to our environment and seek to lessen our part in this, we also pursue those brands who champion this concept of saving the planet with a reduction in unnecessary waste. Not limited to the manufacturing of products, there is also a demand for brands to be environmentally conscious across all areas of their business.
When we consider and discuss global landfill issues, there is a strong focus on products which are carelessly thrown away by both retailers and individuals. However, as brands pursue new ways to build product ranges with recycled materials, they are also exploring the potential for sustainable physical spaces which reduce unnecessary landfill.
In 2018, London welcomed the flagship store for Bottletop; a brand dedicated to re-imagining waste for retail. Whilst their products are a clear mark of sustainability, with zero deforestation leather, upcycled ring pulls and plastic free packaging, it is the store itself which further imprints their vision for waste-free living. It is in fact, the worlds first zero-waste retail location, created utilising recycled plastic and implemented using 3D printers. The rubber floor is made from recycled tyres and the ceiling features a canopy of upcycled drinking cans, embedded into a lattice structure which was made in its entirety by the 3D robots. Bottletop clearly blur the lines between sustainability and modern tech; elevating humble materials through innovative technologies.
Not quite as progressive as Bottletop but with an equal desire to reduce our waste is cult fashion brand, Reformation. Their eco-friendly collections are matched by ‘green’ stores and headquarters; sourcing 100% of their electricity from wind power, using hangers made of entirely sustainable timber and opting for reusable tote bags.
There is no denying that 100% sustainability in physical spaces is tough to tackle, the retail industry is certainly leading this revolution for revitalising waste; fuelled by modern day consumer demand for environmentally friendly solutions.
Working towards a sustainable future is not rested on product manufacture, but the lifespan of this product after purchase. As we’ve mentioned, modern consumers find themselves less focused on the amount of transactions they make, the way in which these purchases foster a positive lifestyle. This evolution has resulted in individuals taking far greater care of their items, with an understanding that discarding products without care is a form of disrespect to the world we are living in.
The fashion industry is one of the largest making a statement in the sustainability movement. And we’re not just talking about recycled materials, but this idea of keeping fashionwear items and allowing them to have a new lease of life. From Ebay to Depop, this concept of purchasing pre-loved clothing has become a part of everyday life; with less and less concern for the ripping the tags out of items. In fact, ‘charity shop finds’ is booming in modern day and we find ourselves proud of owning pre-loved clothing which gives back to charity.
In the realms of luxury fashion, there has also been increased awareness of the impact of fast fashion; with consumers looking to invest in high-quality items which will stand the tests of time. With this in mind, Harrods have witnessed great success with Fashion Re-Told partnership. Designing a beautiful pop-up experience at 51 Marylebone High Street in London, the retail space provided the chance to purchase donated or pre-loved designer clothing; with all proceeds going to NSPCC.
Breathing a new lease of life into previously owned items is hugely important as we progress into an era of sustainability. As we become more aware of the environmental impact of material possessions, we are taking the time to consider the reasons behind our purchases.
It would be an error in judgement to define sustainability as a trend. It has become a lifestyle, a mantra to which we as consumers, brands and individuals are living by. As we progress into 2020, we will witness a plethora of initiatives which strive to sustain our planet with a reduction in waste and an appreciation for pre-loved items.
Brands have the knowledge and influence to spark a positive change and we would love to discuss the possibility of creating sustainable campaigns with you.