Evolving around the trending theme of sustainability, the dialogue at this year’s Decoded Future Summit in London brought together voices that echo within the tech, fashion and economy industries. The dialogue provided us with insightful details about what the future will look like in the context of this new digital age. We have listed below a series of trends that are set to reshape how people will buy, use and eventually reuse goods, as well as the opportunities that will arise from this.
The art of embracing damage
As Mary Creangh mentioned during her Keynote presentation, the UK customer buys an extensive amount of clothes per year and each garment is worn on average seven times. According to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s report on clothing consumption and sustainability, ‘consumption of new clothing is estimated to be higher in the UK than any other European country–26.7kg per capita. This compares to 16.7kg in Germany, 16kg in Denmark, 14.5kg in Italy’. Some of the proposed solutions for lowering the environmental footprint are to ‘buy less, mend, rent and share more’. The benefits of that expand to the emotional side of the process, as ‘the creative satisfaction of designing and repairing clothing can offer an antidote to the growing anxiety and mental health issues amongst teenagers.’
The repairing trend is slowly but surely taking over other branches of the consumer market, including housewares and electronics. For instance, the repair kits provided by Humade are comprised of epoxy fast glue, epoxy putty, gold powder, paint brush, gloves and mixing sticks. According to Humade, this is the ‘art of embracing damage’ by giving objects a new character and prolonging their use.
Image credit: Humade
Similarly, Fairphone’s modular design enables users to replace only the damaged parts of their mobile phones. Whether it is batteries, display or bottom module, Fairphone believes that the ‘most suitable phone is the one you already own’.
Image credit: Fairphone
Finding the wealth in waste
Olfactory experiences are also bound to be reshaped by the introduction of fragrances made out of waste. The collaboration between Ogilvy Paris and Etat Libre d’Orange gave birth to an unusual perfume. Sensorially-unpleasing by definition, but appealing by ingredients, the I Am Trash Les Fleurs du Déchet perfume’s notes are the base of rose, apple and strawberries.
The fragrance is introduced to reflect the wasteful nature of luxury and puts into perspective the not-so-glamourous aftermaths of Global heating that knows no social class or income. In other words, it is the olfactory representation of Charles Baudelaire’s ‘Les Fleur du mal’.
Image credit: Etat Libre d’Orange
On more of a synthetic note, E-waste should by no means be dismissed. Only 15-20% of electric devices are recycled globally, even though there are surprising means of turning e-waste into valuable items. As noted by Dell, there are 800 times more gold in one ton of motherboard than there is in one ton of ore mined from the earth. Hence, the computer technology company teamed up with Bayou with Love to create sustainable jewelry sourced from recovered gold from Dell’s recycled circuits.
Image credit: Dell
Tackling the plastic monster
Plastic is continually increasing its bad reputation and it is scheduled that by 2021 each EU member state will have banned single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers. The news comes in shortly before The Guardian announced important language changes within its style guide. Previously known as climate change is now referred to as ‘climate crisis’ and global warming as ‘global heating’. According to the publication, the previous terms are not banned, but they no longer convey a sense of urgency that comes along the ‘direct existential threat’ we are facing.
Image credit: Ed Hawkins
‘Sustainability needs to be taken out of the CSR office (….). That taking climate change seriously will have a competitive edge. If you think climate change is a priority now, just wait until 2030 and see how consumers [will] feel about it then’ noted Marc Zornes, CEO & Co-founder of Winnow. Companies must follow a holistic approach towards a sustainable future; one that goes beyond packaging on its own.
Technology has the power to change our behaviour and companies need to offer products and services aimed at making the world a better place. It can be argued that customers have the biggest impact on climate control, but it is up to the companies to tell them how to use their products in the best way possible and create means of addressing the CO2 emissions issue.