7 Trends In Sustainability

Trends in sustainability

Sustainability and eco-friendly trends continue to rise. I think the general public will continue to push for companies that use sustainable practices, as well as use services and products that have less of a negative impact on Earth. I believe any companies using green practices will continue to gain market share from those companies that put their bottom line in front of sustainable manufacturing and production.

Climate change and global warming seem to dominate headlines. Severe weather patterns and unforgiving storms seem to pop up and cause millions if not billions of dollars in damage. While good efforts are being made to help with climate change and global warming, we are still a long way away from feeling the negative impacts of climate change.

The good news is, I feel like as we become more aware of these negative impacts, the more we can do as consumers to offset the effect of climate change.

Below is a list of trends in sustainability, that I believe will continue.

Environmental Trends

1) Federal Green Project Provisions

The first trend pertains to federal funding of large infrastructure projects. If you didn’t know, some federal funding particularly sewer projects require the grant recipient to put a small portion of those grant funds that address green infrastructure, water and energy efficiency, or other environmentally innovative activities. For example, if the State of California gets $10 million dollars to do large sewer projects, usually about $1-2 million of those funds has to be spent on practices that contribute to any of the aforementioned environmental activities.

This requirement isn’t new to 2022 but has been around for over a decade. But what is new, is all the federal money going towards water and sewer projects. Each year all the states get a grant for water and sewer projects. These grants have been around since the late ’80s and early ’90s. The trend is, there are new bills being signed that are increasing these grants by at least 3x. This means in the example above.

If the state of California typically gets 10 million (they actually get a lot more than $10 million) now they’ll get $30-40 million. This is a good thing for municipalities that need to upgrade their sewer systems. It also means more money will be spent on green initiatives. The Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act will increase these federal funds by a large portion. And the Build Back Better bill that is being tossed around will add to these grant funds.

With all this money coming in, these projects will not only upgrade the sewer systems in all 50 states, but the sewer systems will run with higher efficiency. While the upfront cost for these projects will be high at first, over the useful life of these systems, the required energy will decrease. So in the long run, these investments will pay off.

2) Water Efficiency for Federal Funds

On the drinking water side, the green project reserve provision isn’t required anymore, but a lot of states still like to put some of their federal grant funds towards projects that focus on saving water. If you live in the Pacific Northwest you’re probably familiar with the severe drought that they’ve been in for several years now.

Some states are even implementing water restrictions because water levels are so low. Again, these federal funds that are getting pushed out to all the states, will hopefully, go towards water-saving initiatives. This will benefit everybody.

3) Electric Vehicles

Tesla is one of the leading manufactures of electric vehicles and they’re producing and selling more vehicles than any analyst predicted. The positive impact of electric vehicles is pretty obvious, but there is controversy over the carbon footprint of producing these vehicles. That aside, the electric vehicle industry is booming.

Ford, Toyota, Lucid, Rivian, and a host of other established and newer companies are adding their version of electric vehicles. I firmly believe the more electric vehicles on the road, the better it will be for the environment. I think tech will continue to push the boundaries of what these cars can do.

And I think batteries will become more efficient, leading to a longer useful life of electric vehicles. As long last the production of these cars isn’t as harmful as the emissions of gas-powered vehicles, I see that as a net positive effect.

4) Green Companies

There is about to be a large transfer of wealth in the US. The baby boomers are going to be leaving their assets to their kids. These inheritances will be put to good use since the receivers of this wealth are into green energy, electric vehicles, and companies that use sustainable methods. Baby boomers also did a great job of saving money, while millennials are more apt to spend money now vs saving it.

This spending will be good for the economy and it will be spent on businesses that use sustainable practices. This will hopefully convince any companies not implementing green practices to start, so they can get a piece of the pie. I think this is like high tides raise all boats. The more companies that use sustainable practices the less impact we’ll have on earth and the resources.

My concern related to this is, statistics show us that nearly 50% of small businesses tend to die with their founders. This means small businesses could fade away leaving large companies remaining, to soak up all that business. If they have a monopoly on a good or service, their willingness to use sustainable methods could decrease.

5) More Environmental Regulation

The previous administration arguably set us back a little bit by loosening some environmental regulations. The current administration has a different perspective and seems to be a bit more concerned about climate change and global warming. I believe any environmental rollbacks by the previous administration will be reenacted along with additional regulation.

I think taxes or fees on companies who pollute will increase and I think the banning of harmful chemicals and plastics could be coming our way. Environmental Justice is a buzzword these days. Environmental justice is a social movement seeking to achieve the fair and equitable distribution of environmental benefits and burdens associated with economic production.  Meaning the elite or wealthy won’t be getting away with pushing pollution onto less affluent citizens/neighborhoods.

6) Recycling

The US used to export a large portion of our recycling to China but that stopped around 2018. The US then turned to other countries like Vietnam and Malaysia for recycling, but they too have dramatically scaled back their recycling. With no way to dump the US recycling onto other countries, we’ll have to turn to technology to get us out of this bind. The recycling movement has been a success but now it’s in jeopardy.

Technology is usually what comes in and saves the day. Separating recycling is labor-intensive and expensive. A cheaper way to deal with recycling will have to come about and I think 2022 will be the year where innovation will happen. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention and we’re to that point.

7) Local Green Initiatives

The term think globally act locally will scale up in 2022. We’re starting to see communities and cities make efforts to be carbon neutral and push for climate action goals. Citys are making efforts to make use 100% clean electricity for government facilities. Citys or municipalities that receive a lot of stormwater are becoming “sponge cities.” Their goal is to maintain and adapt the infrastructure systems to collect, store, and treat (excess) rainwater.

With all the severe weather patterns we’re seeing, having roads blocked off or flooded with stormwater needs to be addressed. Hopefully, with all the government funds pouring in for stormwater, the overloading water treatment facilities because of stormwater will occur less and less. This will reduce costs and save the infrastructure.

Conclusion of Trends In Sustainability For 2022

Climate change is no longer “out of sight, out of mind.” We’re seeing the effects on a daily basis and it’s starting to hit pocketbooks and affecting bottom lines more than ever. The naysayers can’t turn a blind eye to this forever, and that’s why we’re seeing more and more headlines about global warming. Luckily, the younger generation has its hand on the pulse better than ever. And they’re willing to pay companies that keep sustainable practices in mind. I think as usual we’re banking on technology to save the day, so let’s hope the younger generation is filled with good ideas.

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