Last week JWTIntelligence, an arm of the marketing communications giant JWT, released a fascinating and comprehensive report, “100 Things to Watch in 2011.” The report included many issues that Natural Home has covered extensively—and a few that we’re sure to jump on soon. I hand-picked my favorite 15, the most relevant to our world.
No. 7: Bamboo
JWT predicts that bamboo will show up everywhere, from bicycles to clothing to kitchenware.
No. 11: Biomimicry
Janine Benyus introduced the concept of biomimicry, from bios, meaning 'life,' and mimesis, 'to imitate,” more than a decade ago. Now, this design principle’s time has come. Nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many modern design problems.
No. 19: Coming Clean with Green
JWT predicts that Americans may see more accurate and detailed green claims after the Federal Trade Commission published the first update to its “Green Guidelines” in 12 years.The revised guidelines caution marketers against using broad terms such as “environmentally friendly” and “eco-friendly” because consumers tend to perceive these as having far-reaching environmental benefits with few drawbacks—yet few products actually live up to those standards. The new guidelines also warn against using unqualified certifications or seals of approval that do not clearly lay out certification requirements.
No. 39: Green Luxury Cars
The success of the electric Tesla Roadster has automakers targeting eco-conscious drivers who don’t mind six-figure price tags. Mercedes-Benz is putting a four-cylinder engine (small, cheaper, lower emissions) in its top-line S-class sedan for the European market. Volkswagen’s Bentley Continental GT Coupe will offer the option of a V8 engine (cleaner than the standard 12-cylinder), while Porsche and BMW have plans for plug-in hybrid cars within two years.
No. 42: Home Energy Monitors
User-friendly products that help consumers monitor their energy use are coming to market, from Belkin’s Conserve Insight device to GE’s Nucleus home energy manager. As sales of plug-in hybrids and electric cars take off, home energy management will increasingly be linked to vehicles. Google’s PowerMeter application, launched last year, provides nearly real-time data on home energy use right to your Google homepage.
Matcha can be used to in a variety of food products, from lattes to pastries. Photo By Chashitsu_LaSere/Courtesy Flickr.
No. 48: Matcha
Ever since I visited Japan, I’ve been a huge fan of this powdered green tea, which is now becoming one of the hottest flavors around the world. Matcha is high in antioxidants and can be used in everything from lattes and cocktails to ice cream and pastries.
No. 58: New Nordic Cuisine
The rising fame of Copenhagen restaurant Noma and its chef René Redzepi has prompted chefs and foodies across the world to focus on foraging for local plants, herbs and roots, and simple but quality ingredients.
No. 62: Objectifying Objects
As more objects become replaced by digital/virtual counterparts—from records and books to photo albums—people will fetishize the physical object. Books are being turned into decorative accessories, for example, and records into art. (This does make me wonder what happens to book signings, however. It’s just not the same to get that inscription on your Kindle.)
No. 70: Car Sharing
Spride Share in San Francisco, RelayRides in Boston and San Francisco, WhipCar in London and DriveMyCar in Australia match car owners whose vehicles are idle with people who need wheels. JWT predicts we’ll see more car-sharing services as the kinks—theft prevention and insurance agreements—are worked out.
No. 76: Self-Powering Devices
Technological advancements that allow gadgets to be powered by small movements or temperature differences mean we’ll start to see more gadgets that require no battery or power plug. Microsoft has created a peppermill-like remote control that’s powered by the turning motion required to use it.
City planners around the world are turning neglected industrial areas into urban parks. Photo By Bas Lammers/Courtesy Flickr.
No. 77: Smart Lunchrooms
As obesity rates continue to climb worldwide, school and workplace cafeterias will offer more nutritious selections and encourage smarter choices. Last month, President Obama signed into law the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which the White House declared “a major step forward in our nation’s effort to provide all children with healthy food in schools.”
No. 78: Smart Infrastructure Investment
The fastest urban boom in history means we’ll see huge investments in smart infrastructure (embedding digital communication technologies into the framework of power systems). Worldwide, at least 90 smart grid pilots are being implemented.
No. 86: Stricter Green Building Standards
Established standards such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program will take on more stringent requirements, such as those advocated by the International Living Building Institute or the Passive House Institute. The International Code Council’s International Green Construction Code, the first-ever international green building codes and standards released last year, establishes technical requirements for green building that include energy efficiency, site sustainability, water use efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources.
No. 94: Tube-Free Toilet Paper
In its biggest change in a century, toilet paper is losing its hard-to-recycle cardboard tube. Kimberly-Clark’s Scott Naturals is coming out with a tube-free version (currently being tested in select U.S. stores), and more brands will follow.
No. 96: Urban Industrial Parks
Manhattan’s High Line, the public park built atop a long-shuttered elevated freight line, is inspiring city planners to turn neglected industrial structures into urban parks, from a rail viaduct in Philadelphia to a former airfield in Berlin.