Top 10 New Green Ideas to Watch in 2010

As part of their end-of-year Trend Report, JWT recently published “100 Things to Watch in 2010,” an intriguing list of predictions based on the observations of the company’s Trend Scouts stationed throughout the world.

Of these 100 things, one-quarter are decidedly green –a healthy percentage which, according to Ann Mack, Director of Trend Spotting at JWT, indicates that sustainability as a business concept is “here to stay.”

“We didn’t go in looking for a quota of things for any particular category,” Mack explains, adding that the final list of 100 was culled from more than 200 original submissions. “The fact that so many on the list are green shows that the environmental movement is not a flash in the pan. Instead, it has real weight and momentum, and both consumers and retailers realize that. Companies have to get up to speed fast, if they are not already, to make themselves more environmentally-friendly and attractive to the consumer.”

Of the 25 green items on JWT’s list, we whittled it even further, creating this short list (in alphabetical order) of the Top 10 New Green Ideas to Watch in 2010:

1.    Alternative Measures of Prosperity
France’s Joie de Vivre Index, initiated by President Nicolas Sarkozy, is intended to provide a better assessment of well-being than the classic measure of economic health, the GDP (e.g., it considers indicators such as health care and family relationships). Sarkozy has urged other G20 leaders to adopt new indices, too. Look for more countries or companies to embrace alternative measures of prosperity, such as the Triple Bottom Line of people, profits and planet. (Hmmm…People, profits, planet? Sounds familiar.)

2.    Alternative Metals in Jewelry
With gold prices volatile in recent years, Asian jewelry makers are turning instead to precious metals like palladium and titanium. China’s imports of palladium, which is cheap, durable and lightweight, have been rising steadily. Look for more jewelry manufacturers to choose it over gold.

3.    Buycotting
The opposite of a boycott, a buycott is supported by consumers who make a conscious effort to buy from companies whose environmental and social policies they support. Examples: Canadian supporters of Israel prompted a buycott of Israeli products; people who agreed with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s ideas on health care countered a boycott of the store with a buycott last summer.

4.    Dry Shampoo
Women are discovering dry shampoo—which removes oil and build-up from hair sans water—as an on-the-go solution for busy schedules, after-work refreshing, and anytime between regular washes. Exposure is spreading through new Sephora distributions, celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe and reality TV star Heidi Montag, who has a product line in the works.

5.    Energy Dieting
The recession has prompted more businesses and consumers to put themselves on an “energy diet” (buying more energy-efficient machines, keeping lights off longer, etc.). As they rack up savings—and come to think of themselves as more green—this practice will become habit. (This is Mack’s favorite green idea on the list because it represents an unintended environmental benefit from an otherwise dismal recession, she says.)

6.    Green Retrofits
The retrofitting of homes and buildings to make them more energy efficient will ramp up. In the U.S., tax credits and stimulus money for this purpose will help drive change. For instance, California has allocated as much as $3.1 billion to cut residential power needs, including retrofitting programs. Changes in regulations are also helping to motivate commercial landlords and developers, plus green buildings can command higher prices and tend to move faster.

7.    Greening the Palate
People will become increasingly aware of the impact their food choices make on the environment, well beyond local sourcing issues. Some foods (notably red meat) have a much bigger carbon footprint than others; some choices are better in terms of water consumption; and foods with palm oil are being linked to rainforest destruction. In Sweden, which is formulating dietary guidelines that take emissions into account, some restaurants and food manufacturers are already listing emissions information. (Related to Number 64 on JWT’s list: Nutrition-Washing. Much as “greenwashing” has made consumers skeptical about brands’ environmental claims, shoppers will increasingly take health messaging with a grain of salt, JWT predicts.)

8.    Hand-Me-Ups
More people will start “handing up” their cell phones, digital cameras, computers and other electronic gadgets to their parents when they want to upgrade. The older items are often easier to master for those interested only in these tools’ basic functions.

9.    Return of the Water Fountain
The water fountain is undergoing a resurgence and redesign as people seek alternatives to single-use plastic bottles. New water-refilling stations charge a small fee for replenishing reusable bottles. Several so-called HydraChill stations, installed in London in October, charge 20 pence, which goes to an environmental group.(Public water fountains? I see this in direct correlation with Number 67 on JWT’s list: Pandemic Fatalism.)

10.    The Waterless Washing Machine
Using nylon polymer beads, which pull stains off fabric, this machine requires just a cup of water. It saves energy as well because the clothes come out virtually dry,and there’s little need for a dryer. The washers, developed by U.K. company Xeros, will initially be marketed to commercial laundry operations, beginning in 2010.

Mack cautions that JWT has defined this list as “things to watch,” not “trends.”

“These are reflections of broader trends and represent a growing action and awareness of environmental issues, health and fitness issues, and the economy,” she says. “There are slight variations globally and when comparing one market to another. But, in general these are things to watch, things that could become a much bigger shifting trend in society.”

The entire JWT “100 Things to Watch in 2010” is available here.

You can also watch a two-minute video clip that summarizes JWT’s findings:

As a corporate content specialist and a ghostwriter for C-level executives, Kathryn's work appears at Forbes, Industry Week and other leading trade publications and websites. She focuses on topics related to science, business sustainability, supply chain risk management and marketing. Find out more about Kathryn at www.CorporateWriter4Hire.com . You can follow Kathryn on Twitter: @CorpWriter4Hire.