As we move into 2024, a movement is afoot to suppress continuing climate change. Whether that be on a granular scale in our everyday consumer choices or on the global stage where conferences like the United Nations hosted COP29 will continue to hold the wealthiest countries accountable with a hard and fast deadline of 2030 to reach net zero goals.
Scientists now agree that humans are indisputably the main drivers of accelerating climate change, and its impacts are a growing concern for global populations.
Thankfully, over 60% of the global population is on board with addressing the impact of everyday choices. This includes decisions related to consumption, transportation, and energy usage. It truly will take an “all hands on deck” approach to move our planet in the right direction.
With Zestain, you can stay informed about the latest advancements in sustainable technology, discover eco-conscious brands and products, and learn practical tips on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. To kick off the new year, these are the sustainability trends to watch in 2024.
A Quick Look at The Top 8 Sustainability Trends Shaping 2024
Use Less: Sustainable Living and Waste Reduction Awareness | Go to trend
Biodegradable Materials: Reducing Single-Use Plastic | Go to trend
- Step Away from the Fossil Fuels: Renewable Energy Advances | Go to trend
- Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems | Go to trend
- Traveling Light: Green Transportation and Electric Vehicles | Go to trend
- Closing the Loop: Sustainable Fashion and Textiles | Go to trend
- Smart Buildings: Eco-Friendly Building and Construction | Go to trend
- Green Offices: Corporate Sustainability Initiatives | Go to trend
Emerging Sustainability Trends in 2024
1. Use Less: Sustainable Living and Waste Reduction Awareness
Sometimes less is more. In this case, more clean air, clean water, and natural resources. Over the past four decades, natural resource consumption has more than tripled globally. To have an abundance of all of these things, we humans need to cool it on overconsumption.
A few facts about the way that we’ve run a buffet on the planet’s natural resources:
- According to the Global Food Report, over 30% of food is lost or wasted globally.
- Our craving for convenience has resulted in 380 million tons of plastic every year.
- If everyone in the world consumed resources at the same rate as people in OECD and EU countries, it would require the equivalent of 3.3 Earths.
Look for more brands adopting zero-waste practices in the form of reusable packaging, refillable models, and upcycled materials.
2. Biodegradable Materials: Reducing Single-Use Plastic
We’ve heard the breathtaking statistics about our global addiction to single-use plastics – like the fact that we produced more than 300 million tons of single-use plastic last year alone.
Now multiply that by the 20 to 500 years it takes for that material to decompose. And add to that the incalculable amount of microplastics that process involves – and Houston, we have a problem.
So what’s new in 2024? How are we going to break the cycle of this cheap, lightweight, and durable material infiltrating every part of our lives? We’re going to make it illegal.
Single-Use Plastic Bans in 2024
There are several single-use plastic bans ready to take their place in 2024. These are a few of the most notable:
- 2024 Guide to Polystyrene Ban in Colorado: Eco-Cycle and partners championed the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act that will see all plastic bags and styrofoam banned in the state starting January 1st.
- The 2024 Paris Olympics: Visitors to Olympic competition sites in Paris will be admitted only without plastic bottles as a ban on single-use plastic as part of their efforts to address the global plastic pollution crisis.
- UAE Single-Use Plastic Product Import Bans Start 2024: Starting from January 1, 2024, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will implement a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. This law will prohibit the import, production, and circulation of such bags in the country. The nationwide ban aims to reduce plastic waste and encourage the use of more sustainable alternatives.
- Hong Kong’s plastic tableware ban: HK will ban throwaway plastic tableware from April 2024. The move is part of Hong Kong’s efforts to tackle its “throwaway culture” and address the significant amount of disposable plastic tableware that ends up in landfills daily
3. Step Away from the Fossil Fuels: Renewable Energy Advances
If there’s one solution that almost everyone can agree on, it’s that the world needs to supplement heavily with renewable energy sources at a minimum.
According to research firm Deloitte’s 2024 Renewable Energy Industry Outlook, “renewables set for a variable-speed takeoff as historic investment, competitiveness, and demand propel their development while also exacerbating grid, supply chain, and workforce challenges.”
While this is nothing new, we’ll likely see more domestic adoption of solar and even geothermal energy sources for homes and energy companies incentivizing customers by buying excess solar energy from homeowners through buyback programs.
Cheaper Prices for Homeowners
Where once installing something like solar was a convoluted process that required a hefty sum upfront, now programs like 30% federal tax credit and local rebates are making it easier than ever for homeowners to switch over to renewable energy.
In fact, by the end of 2023, the US Energy Information Administration expects utility-scale solar installations to more than double compared to 2022.
Look for prices in residential solar to drop, additional government and local incentives making it easier for homeowners to get on the renewable energy train, and more community solar and wind projects popping up across the nation.
4. Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
During COP28 in Dubai in December of 2023 – the biggest global gathering for environmental findings and agreements – the food system reached the forefront of the conversation.
Agriculture and food systems were acknowledged as major contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. The potential of agrifood systems to mitigate climate impacts and achieve a global 1.5°C goal means that consumers will need to change their ways.
That includes looking at mono-crop farming practices, chemical aids, and the meat industry, which has long had a heavy carbon footprint.
In 2024 look for:
- Regenerative farming practices that support healthier soil and water conditions, carbon sequestration, and better biodiversity.
- Meat Free Mondays sweeping school and workplace cafeterias.
- Plant-based options becoming the norm in grocery stores, rather than the exception.
- A shift away from GMO ingredients.
- Composters to avoid food waste in unexpected settings like schools, offices, and home countertops.
5. Traveling Light: Green Transportation and Electric Vehicles
In 2024, sustainability is expected to be at the forefront of urban planning and transportation. No longer will hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) be a novelty – as 25% of all new passenger car registrations are forecast to be electric in 2024.
More EVs, More Charging Stations
With more EVs on the road, you’ll see more charging stations popping up in malls, schools, and grocery store parking lots to support a new way of moving about. New EVs will come with faster charging times and cheaper price tags.
More Pedestrian and Biker Friendly Urban Planning
Additionally, cities will be designed with sustainability in mind, catering to pedestrian and bicycle traffic and featuring green spaces that improve air quality.
The EU is setting the pace for greener urban transport with Paris’ lofty goal to make every street in the city biker-friendly by 2024. In the US, you’ll see more pedestrian-friendly walking areas, e-bike rentals, and bike lanes in major cities.
6. Closing the Loop: Sustainable Fashion and Textiles
Like any good trend, the fashion industry is constantly evolving, and 2024 is predicted to bring about a shift towards circularity, upcycled textiles, and natural fibers.
While it’s a long shot, we would also love that fast fashion practices like synthetic fibers, abysmal production practices, and cheaply produced goods breathe their last breath in the new year.
The truth is, you don’t have to be a fashionista to be part of a better or worse-looking earth. Fashion choices matter. The textile industry is responsible for more than 1.7 million tons of CO2 annually, making up 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
From the microplastics they produce to the waste they become when a new trend enters the chat, they are hugely impactful to the bigger picture of the planet.
Circularity in fashion is expected to gain even more prominence in 2024. This movement focuses on the recycling and upcycling of garments to reduce the industry’s environmental impact. Instead of the traditional linear “take, make, dispose” model, circularity aims to create a closed-loop system where materials are continuously reused.
In 2024, we can look forward to seeing more natural fibers on retail shelves. These fibers, which include cotton, hemp, and linen, are grown without the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals, making them much more eco-friendly than their synthetic counterparts.
Not only are natural fibers better for the environment, but they are also often softer and more breathable, making them a comfortable and stylish choice for everyday wear.
7. Smart Buildings: Eco-Friendly Building and Construction
The world is changing, and so are our construction practices. With more and more companies and individuals becoming aware of the importance of sustainability, we can expect to see an even greater emphasis placed on green building practices.
Some examples of environmentally friendly construction techniques include using renewable, non-toxic, and locally sourced materials, incorporating energy-efficient designs and technology, and developing carbon-neutral buildings.
One trend we can expect to see in 2024 is an increase in the number of LEED-certified buildings. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification program that recognizes buildings and communities that are designed, built, and operated for improved environmental and human health performance. Think of healthy insulation, energy-saving lighting, and clean air systems.
According to Statista, LEED certificates in the office building market amounted to over 30 percent in 2022, and that number is expected to increase with nationwide mandates for corporate environmental responsibility.
Sustainable buildings aren’t just for the deep pockets of corporations. You’ll also see more “smart features” built into new homes to comply with building regulations and environmental demand in 2024.
Look for automated systems to help with energy use, more sustainable materials, and renewable energy applications to power everyday life. And maybe your electric vehicle, too!
8. Green Offices: Corporate Sustainability Initiatives
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reports will go from voluntary to mandatory in many respects in 2024 as sustainability disclosures become just as important as financial disclosures for the Fortune 500.
Why? Investors are demanding reassurance that their bets are placed on companies that are ready for climate change, which will impact every single industry from tech to utilities.
Corporate Carbon Neutrality Goals have also taken center stage as a critical piece of ESG investing aimed at diminishing industrial strength carbon emissions.
Moreover, the transition to sustainable supply chains in 2024 has also become a top priority for companies that wish to reduce their environmental impact and improve their bottom line. This can mean lightening loads, innovating lighter materials, and producing locally to reduce carbon footprints.
For Better or Worse: Impact of Technology on Sustainability
From the creation of the stone tools of our ancient ancestors to today’s advanced artificial intelligence, technology has significantly impacted human evolution.
Thanks to our ability to create and use technology, we have adapted to new environments, communicated across long distances, and even extended our lifespans. It’s also a powerful tool that will shape our planet’s next chapter.
As we look to the future, technology is poised to play a significant role in facilitating sustainable trends. Breakthroughs in energy storage, renewable energy, and circular design drive innovation that paves the way for a more environmentally conscious tomorrow.
By 2024, we can expect technology to shift our approach to sustainability with smarter homes, electric or hybrid vehicles, and intuitive waste management systems that recycle and transform waste into usable materials.
AI and Big Data in Environmental Management
The future of conservation and resource management looks promising as we continue to move towards a more technologically advanced world. By 2024, we can expect to see a multitude of advancements in technology that will help us better manage our planet’s resources.
One example of this is the use of drones to monitor and protect wildlife in remote areas to measure impact. Another is advanced mapping using satellites that will help detect biodiversity of flora and fauna without sending humans into survey, leaving areas untouched.
Data analytic tools like nature-based reporting platforms will be able to help identify climate change patterns and predict their impact on habitats. These technologies will not only help protect our planet’s resources but also aid in helping companies meet their ESG goals.
Sustainable Tech in Everyday Life
In 2024, we can expect to see an even greater expansion of smart home technology, which includes energy-efficient appliances and eco-friendly gadgets. Smart thermostats, for example, can monitor and adjust temperatures according to our daily routines, while smart lighting can be controlled through our smartphones or home devices.
Apps like Klima will also help you monitor and offset your carbon footprint through environmental programs, and solar chargers will reduce our chronic dependence on the electrical grid and maybe help us unplug altogether!
Challenges and Opportunities of a Sustainable Future
The challenges are many but not insurmountable. If we concentrate on just two challenges in 2024 we can make giant strides towards a better planet.
The first requires individual-focused effort to reduce personal impact, and the second involves a helping hand from the companies that supply us with everyday goods.
How Can We Stay on Track to Meet Sustainability Goals in 2024
As individuals, we need to look at our own homes, lifestyles, and shopping patterns and look deep into the impact of each. Small behavior changes in any of those can add up to a big impact. A crowd attracts a crowd. When your social, professional, and family circle sees you making changes and sticking to supporting positive change, the actions will inspire.
Actions like shopping locally, looking for earth-friendly brands, and using clothing, furniture, and tech to their maximum use, and then recycling responsibly are simple, easy ways to help the planet.
On the opposite side are the often faceless corporations that feed our everyday lives. Whether it’s food, travel, or shopping, each of these companies offers a choice. And we need them to offer better choices. If consumers demand better, if governments mandate more strictly with the environment in mind, the sum is a collective effort towards a healthier planet.
Looking for a reliable source for transparent, research-based sustainability news and trends? Look no further than Zestain!
Zestain is your go-to source for all things sustainable, providing you with the latest updates, consumer recommendations, and research-backed insights to help you tackle the new year sustainably.