"The thrifty culture born of the downturn has seen consumers "hacking" (modifying items for new purposes), recycling, upcycling and even cycling their way to unintentionally eco-friendly behavior. As more people embrace these ways to save money and exercise some creativity, this accidentally green behavior will become increasingly ingrained." So says Ann Mack, head of trendspotting for JWTintelligence.com. Here are 12 old trends that are new again, and they just happen to be green.
Bicycles have never gone away, but the proliferation of bike lanes and bike-friendly parks and parking spaces in U.S. cities has made owning and actually using a bike easier than ever. Expect bikes and other hyper-local forms of transportation to become commonplace as the health and wealth benefits continue to align with the realities of bike-friendly cities.
Cooking at Home
The recession inspired more people to cut their budgets for eating out, and get re-acquainted with their kitchens. It wasn't so long ago that most people ate in most of the time. Coupled with the local food movement and the profusion of quality, boutique ingredients, the home cooking trend is not going anywhere fast. Expect the best gifts of 2010 to be cooking classes and cookbooks.
Michelle Obama leant some serious momentum to the home gardening movement in 2009, when she planted a prominent organic garden on the South Lawn of the White House. But is the First Lady ready for chickens? How about a goat? The home gardening crowd has been innovating by harkening back to a time when every home had a coop. But it's not just chickens. Urban beekeepers are revolutionizing beekeeping, and it won't be long before livestock join the chickens in the backyard farms of the (near) future.
Not since the early 1900s has the Heartland of the U.S. experienced such enthusiasm for the well-mixed cocktail, according to Noah Rothbaum, editor-in-chief of Liquor.com and author of The Business of Spirits: How Savvy Marketers, Innovative Distillers, and Entrepreneurs Changed How We Drink. Snuffed out by Prohibition and 1950s automation, the cocktail began its resurgence in the 1980s. But the trend has only begun to catch fire in the Heartland. "It had to skip two generations," Rothbaum said. "Anything your grandfather did is cool, but anything your parents did is not." What's new for this trend, Rothbaum said, is a focus, following on the heels of the local food movement, on the provenance of liquors and mixers. Looking to get in on this trend? Learn how to mix a drink with Liquor.com's handy cocktail database.
Simple technology, if it's smart, is making a comeback. Take the clothesline: About as simple as it gets, but it dries your clothes without the use of electricity. "Environmental activists across the U.S. and Canada are working to make it safe (and legal) for people to save energy by hanging clothes out to dry," Mack said. The Green Cheapskate will be happy to hear it.
The recession opened many people's eyes to the fragility of our good fortune. It also freed up a lot of people's time, however unwillingly. Giving back was long a way of life in small towns, where the local butcher was also the local fireman, and the housewife was also the schoolteacher, and everyone got together for a good barn-raising. The volunteerism bug is tough to shake, so expect people to continue to be generous with their time, even as it gets easier to remain fully employed.
Throw-away culture will ebb in 2010, as recession-educated shoppers start spending again, but more wisely, according to Mintel's prediction. "The past year gave consumers cause to re-evaluate every aspect of their lives, looking for value and savings. In 2010, expect shoppers to keep reviewing as they hunt out the best deals and realize where they can get by on less." It's all about the value; people will pay, but only if it's worth it. (Can anyone else hear his grandfather talking?)
The desire to imagine yourself in another circumstance ebbs and flows with the times. Expect the Great Recession to inspire a healthy dose in 2010. "The past year has meant a huge amount of economizing and scaling back on previously normal treats and experiences. While consumers have become accustomed to 'staycations,' small indulgences and cooking at home," according to the prediction of Mintel, a consumer marketing and research firm. "Escapism will resonate both in and outside the home as people splurge on big purchases, such as the flat-panel TVs." (Let's hope those are Energy Star TVs, which cost much less over time.)
Cash for Clunkers is so 2009. Detroit is so, well, 1970. And electric cars aren't ready, meaning the next big trend in new cars is ... old cars. With budgets still tight, and concerns over the health of major automakers still on many consumes' minds, expect the value proposition to be in reliable, fuel-efficient used cars.
Composting, that oldest of home habits is reaching another peak of popularity, like that seen in the 1960s, according to Mack. "This green habit has been gradually picking up adherents; in 2010, watch for widening adoption by both households and municipalities as people grow more aware of its benefits and are won over by new devices that make composting easier and less offputting."
"In 2010, we'll see more consumers vying for vintage as the trend continues to gain acceptance among mainstream buyers looking to add one-of-a-kind pieces to their wardrobe at affordable, recession-friendly prices." So-says Sammy Davis, a former TDG collaborator who recently launched Sammy Davis Vintage. In addition to national chains like Beacon's Closet, Buffalo Exchange and Urban Outfitters, all of which now offer vintage lines, there are several Web retailers making these styles accessible to people everywhere, Davis said. Check out Market Publique, Vintage Fashion Expo, ModCloth and Rolling Stone Vintage Clothing to get ahead of this trend.
Mack says that 2010 will be marked by the "return of the water fountain." Only, this bubbler might not look like the ones we've become accustomed to. "The water fountain is undergoing a resurgence and redesign as people seek alternatives to single-use plastic bottles," Mack said. "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."