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 . You can follow Kathryn on Twitter: @CorpWriter4Hire.

39 responses

  1. I would also add sharing, product service systems, efforts to democratize the economy, government, and culture. The definition of green could change dramatically in 2010 when people realize that the same old life simply made green isn't good enough. People are increasingly demanding participation in shaping the future, and this will be the greenest trend of all because a large majority of people (around 70% in the US) believe that protecting the environment is important.

  2. Excellent list! I think number one really does belong on top. We've obsessed over GDP as the only measure of “progress” for way too long. It's about time we at least started talking about other measures of success!

  3. Shareable and nickaster, Thanks for your comments. I agree. I think what we're starting to see is a mental shift. What ARE our definitions of “progress” and “success?” Who do we allow to define those for us?

    1. My definition of progress is a society where someone else doesn't tell you what the priorities are. Rather it's one where each has a real say in shaping their world according to their priorities.

      I also think that making happiness a goal is a mistake. Happiness is a byproduct of living a good life, not a goal. Making it a goal will be self-defeating because you can not work directly at happiness.

      There are many great thinkers on what makes a good life. My take is that purposeful work, good relationships, connection with spirit, continual learning, helping others, civic life, and expressing your creativity are central to the good life. Happiness proceeds from such things.

  4. Imad, Thanks for your comment. Glad you liked the list!
    John, Nice to see that you are taking the list to heart. :) Yes, all of these are possible. For instance, there really IS dry shampoo and a washing machine that is virtually waterless.

  5. I'm glad you included energy efficiency in buildings. Climate change needs a corporate revolution as described in this commentary link and in a new study out called “Bottom-Line Sustainability for Business…What's possible and profitable about intelligent building systems.” The study is chocked full of practical sustainability, including building efficiency, at for those who care to read it.

    1. Thanks for this link KJR. I don't think many people realize that buildings are the number one contributor of GHG emissions in the US.

  6. I'm concerned about #4 Dry Shampoos. Don't many of them, like Psssssst dispense from aerosol cans? That's not exactly eco-friendly. Perhaps a simple unscented, or not, powder would do the trick?

    1. Yes,I am also concerned, the can, you know, the packaging, is what I would think is part of the criteria of being green…this product these days is probably used with a blow dryer.
      And as far as being new, or a forward trend, this idea isn't exactly new…I remember the commercial on TV in the 60's “Don't have time to shampoo? Minipoo!!!” I wouldn't be surprised if it shown on Mad Men..
      So not very green and not very new.. I wonder what criteria you use to compile this list….. perhaps a company that is producing a product that would take our cold water that runs down the drain while we wait for the hot and use it to supply the water that flushes our toilets….saved water products to me, more of the trend or things to watch with new greywater legislation coming out.

        1. and any comment as to the criteria of the list?? out of a 100 how did the dry shampoo make the top 10?
          I really do have to ask…journalism, fall off newspapers to sites like this.. I need to ask……

  7. As a boomer, I reflect on all the green practices of my European grandmother- having an actual sustainable vegetable garden instead of a lawn; washing clothes only when they were dirty-not after just wearing them for a couple of hours; using public transportation whenever possible; buying local; reusing everything-from cutting up Christmas cards to make next year's gift tags to the jelly jars that could be used as a drinking glass; composting;…the list can go on and on. it may seem very simplistic…but isn't that they way to go green…simplify?

  8. yes, I hope that you're enjoying some of these practices, if you are able, (they are enjoyable)the climate where I am allows me to grow fava beans, dill, mesclun,radishes, rapini,and chard in the winter, Farmers markets are fun,and taste mattersI ..use jam jars and speghetti sauce to carry my lunch and store food…nice paper of all kinds are kept..transportation doesn't work as well as Europe, but I use it to go to the city….
    It's the water thing that gets me, we are still unaware of where and how much energy it takes to have it, there are such descrepancies , people in my town might talk about 3 minute showers( no can do!) and another part of my state doesn't meter the residents.. they have no clue….

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  10. Hi, again, Valeria! As I mentioned in the post, I found at least 25 “green” items on JWT's list of 100. From those 25, 10 were selected, reflecting a wide range of interesting ideas. We were hoping to get people thinking and talking about ideas which (perhaps) they hadn't considered before. To learn more about how JWT formulated its list, check out their website .

  11. Hi again, Kathryn, if I pressed for the criteria of green and am given the response of “green” with quotation marks as the answer, can you see this being somewhat a circular conversation?I will check in with 3P time and again, but it has been adjusted down from my list of information resources.The list of 100 overall is good but having one with no apparent justification hitting the top ten is suspect.
    To get a full report, it costs $500.00 per the website link you gave me to check out. I do understand now that the organization is a marketing firm, not journalism, and it's mission is to market. It never really comes clear how the list is formed, there is a mention of research desks.
    So this looks like journalism but it is marketing as far as the fact checking goes, now I understand. I can't help but imagine that as far as the dry shampoo is concerned being green, there probably was a rather large basket from Sephora on the said research desks….

    1. Hey Valeria… I'm not so sure about those dry shampoo things either. At the end of the day, this is just an opinion based list, so any criteria that were used is subject to debate, which is exactly the point of this commenting system. I don't think JWT was calling if 'green' either, it just seemed to have the potential to save water in the opinion of the author of this post – strictly in terms of water consumption in water-stressed areas it might be 'green' thinking, but you're absolutely right to question it, so thank you for bringing it up for debate! These are the conversations that improve lists like this in the future (If we did get anything from Sephora, I assure you we'd disclose that) What would your top ten things on the JWT list be?

    2. Hi Valeria, thanks for your interest in the criteria. As Kathryn reports, our Things to Watch list is based on the observations of our Trend Scouts from all over the world. We never tagged dry shampoo as green, but I can see why Kathryn may have added it to her list and also why it could be debatable. We show the list in alphabetical order, so there is no top ten per se. And nickaster is right, if we did get anything from Sephora, we would disclose that; we did not.

      However, the full report that you refer to is our Top 10 Trends for 2010, which reflect larger, global shifts in society. The video that Kathryn was so kind to post covers these top 10.

  12. It is a misguided effort to use GDP as a metric for so called “Economic Growth”. The whole idea of Economic Growth, in its traditional sense, is nonsense with respect to true human development. There is no such thing as true economic growth because the underlying mechanism is based almost entirely on the amount of liquidity in the system. In other words, if I counterfeit 100 million US dollars and give it to you to start a business (you don’t know it’s counterfeit) and you buy and fix up an old building, hire a team of employees and start to produce a product that the public buys, this would be considered an ‘expansion’ of the economy. You have invested in real estate – increased the employment rate – and created new products that others buy, therefore stimulating the circulation of currency.

    Now, what if it was found out that all that money you had was counterfeit, and the whole operation was shut down? This would be a ‘contraction’ of the economy, because the money disappears; your employees would be laid off, the building foreclosed upon, and the production halted. SO…What was the real growth here? If the increase (expansion) in the supply of money can result in the creation of jobs and production, while the contraction results in the loss of jobs and production, what exactly was the point?

    That being said…I am glad to see #1 on the list!!


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  14. 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.
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