Sustainability has taken off like a SpaceX rocket. Just about every company, from small businesses to giant corporations, is embracing sustainability as a necessity. 

If you’ve been following our blog, you might already be familiar with some of the basics of sustainability and what it means for brands, particularly:

Last year, we also took a look at 2021's sustainability trends, specifically the way Generation Z is helping to shape the way we view the importance of environmental impact. In honor of the new year, we’re diving into 2022’s sustainability trends — ones that impact the products we buy every day, from laundry detergent to pet food. 

Packaging is disappearing

Recycling is no longer enough. Future-focused brands are trying to use as little packaging as possible, creating boxes, wraps, or coatings that will dissolve, disappear, or can even be eaten. 

  • Dropps makes laundry detergent pods that disappear in the wash and ships them in compostable packaging so you’re left with nothing but clean clothes.
  • Footprint develops and manufactures plastic alternatives made of biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable fibers. 
  • Apeel is a company that creates a thin film coating for edible products, like produce, that extends their shelf life. (So you’ll essentially eat your packaging!)

The conscious consumer is aware of our growing trash problem. And as the issue becomes more well-known and its impact understood, we expect a growing number of everyday consumers to begin making purchase decisions based on the lesser of two evils packages.  

Plant-based alternatives replace meat 

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have gained rapid popularity with their plant-based proteins that are flavored and texturized to mimic meat. Also gaining popularity in the alternative meat market are whole plant alternatives, which might mean swapping meaty burgers for jackfruit or carby pasta for chickpea-based alternatives.  

  • KARANA makes alternative protein out of whole foods such as jackfruit (to which, I can attest, tastes and feels shockingly similar to meat and is downright delicious).
  • Akua makes kelp-based burgers, jerky, and even pasta. I can’t attest to this one, but it does sound pretty tasty.
  • Banza creates chickpea-based pastas, proving that eating whole veggies doesn’t have to be exclusive to meat replacements — you can sub veggies for carbs, too.

Recently, consumers have pointed out that highly-processed, plant-based proteins (like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods) aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be in terms of nutrition. Because of this, we expect to see more all-natural, whole plant alternatives — products to which consumers can easily answer the question: “What’s that made out of?”

Food waste becomes a concern

No one wants to waste food. No matter economic status, political leanings, or country of origin, wasting food has a bad connotation...and we all want to end it. Many brands are allowing consumers to choose products that divert unwanted food from ending up in a landfill, creatively using it to make more food. 

  • Misfit Foods transforms “ugly” fruits and veggies that supermarkets would otherwise not sell into bottled juices and sausages.
  • The Coffee Cherry Company upcycles coffee cherries (the fruit that protects the coffee beans inside), dehydrates them, and uses them to make high-fiber flour.  
  • Do Good Chicken takes surplus food from supermarkets (after community donations occur) and uses it to create feed for their chickens. You can then buy their chicken at those same supermarkets. 

Food waste negatively affects our planet, too. When food is compacted into a landfill, it releases methane gas — which is 25x more potent than carbon dioxide and a major contributor to climate change. We expect future-focused brands to recognize this, educate consumers on the facts, and lead the charge to put an end to it.  

Even pets are going green

When I asked my cat if he was interested in more eco-friendly products, he gave me a blank stare and let out a confused meow. He may not have a choice in what he eats or the toys he plays with, but I have a choice in what I buy for him. Enter: environmentally friendly pet products. 

  • CycleDog creates toys, collars, and harnesses for dogs that are made from discarded inner tube rubber that was targeted for landfills.
  • Jiminy’s turns crickets into tasty treats. Made from powdered cricket protein (which is known to be a superfood), just one bag of treats saves 220 gallons of water.
  • Wondercide makes all-natural grooming products, including flea and tick control, which can be hard to come by. 

During COVID-19, 23 million American households acquired a new pet — that’s one in five households. Now think about how many of those millions of Americans care strongly about the environment too. When you put two and two together, it makes sense that the category of more sustainable pet food is going to grow. 

Let’s get climate positive

Going carbon-neutral is a huge step in the right direction for any company. But many brands are taking it even further, aiming to be climate positive — that is, not only neutralizing carbon emissions, but taking more carbon emissions out of the atmosphere than they put in.

  • The Olympics announced a commitment to make the games climate-positive from 2030 onward. 
  • Emma Lewishman, a beauty brand, announced their achievement of becoming carbon positive. Committing to circularity, this brand keeps materials in use to eliminate waste and pollution.
  • Horizon Organic plans to be the first carbon-positive dairy brand in the United States by 2025. 

Today, many companies keep their carbon emissions on the DL, knowing they’re doing some damage to the planet. But visibility is coming. As legislation passes, we expect to see more sustainability reports from brands informing consumers about what they’re doing to reduce their carbon emissions to zero or even how they’ll become climate positive. 

What does this mean for my brand?

We’re not recommending you should add a new sentence to your website claiming to be sustainable. (In fact, this will lead to more backlash as it will likely be considered “greenwashing” — which we wrote about avoiding here.) 

Instead, consider the stance your company is going to take on sustainability (i.e. if you don’t have one, get one). 

Do your research and narrow down in which areas sustainability could have the most impact on your brand today and work toward those achievements. Then, craft a plan for the future, including sustainability milestones you want your brand to achieve. 

Once you have a plan of action, then consider announcing it on your own website. Need help crafting content around your sustainable business? We’ve got you. Browse our content marketing packages to see our capabilities, then contact us today.

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