7 Sustainable trends for businesses in 2022
By Ella White — OggaDoon
Sustainability is a topic that just keeps growing. For both consumers and for businesses, this year is about adapting to a new and more eco-friendly way of life as the devastating effects of climate change continue to devastate the planet.
So, we won’t beat around the bush: here are the 7 sustainable business trends for 2022 that your company should be keeping an eye on.
Growth doesn’t sound like something that’s conducive to sustainability. And in many ways it isn’t. However, growth in the sustainable economy could mean slower growth in the global economy — so it’s this kind of growth we should be focusing on. Nature-based solutions like carbon capture and other emerging technologies will require time for adaptation, but in the long run they will reap unprecedented benefits for the planet, and for our economies.
Safeguarding our natural capital is one of the best ways to ensure that the Earth can continue to produce the resources we need to survive. And the sooner businesses and investors get on board, the better it will be for us and for them. Will 2022 bring that change?
Goodbye, greenwashing. COP26 and net-zero pledges that were made last year come with a demand for proof — both from authorities and from consumers. Until now, businesses have spent years hiding behind vague statements and policies about their ethical and sustainable practices, but now it’s time for them to show the receipts.
A great example of authority leading the way to a more transparent and sustainable economy is New York’s sustainable fashion act. If put in place, it will see companies with a turnover higher than $100 million required to show proof of their energy usage, emissions, and supply information. UN regulations already require organisations above a certain size to share their environmental data, but in 2022 we expect these regulations to spread even further and demand more tangible statistics.
In the context of sustainability, accountability means businesses should look beyond their own four walls. In 2022, more than ever, companies will be held accountable for the choices they make throughout their process and practice. This will include transparency around supply chains and partners. No longer will consumers and regulators accept businesses turning a blind eye to the way their partners run their business.
It’s time for organisations to see everyone they work with as an extension of their own brand. An obvious starting point will be businesses reporting the emissions and sustainable practices of their supply chains within their own environmental reports.
4. Sustainable finance
2022 is the year for businesses and investors to put their money where their mouth is — literally. In the EU, regulations already require financial advisors and market participants to share their sustainability information with investors to increase transparency. But legislation of this kind is expected to tighten globally, so you’ll want your business to be ahead of the curve.
Those unable to show financial accountability for their green targets won’t only get left behind, but will be on the wrong side of history when it comes to creating sustainable economic growth.
5. Doing more, better
It’s fair to say that many businesses are making an active effort to be more sustainable. But the push continues, and COP26 and net-zero targets aren’t the end of the conversation. Okay so it’s not brand new for 2022, but the escalation in conversation around a greener future and increased targets — despite some only being set last November — is the only way for businesses to keep doing better.
Using the example of global banks and other corporations who set annual and lifetime targets to benefit the planet and their communities, many simply stop when they have reached their goal. In the near future this will no longer be acceptable, and it also works to prove that simply setting a target is not enough: once that target is met, more should be set immediately. There is no ‘there, it’s done’ when it comes to reversing climate change and encouraging a more sustainable economy.
For smaller businesses that aren’t legally required to disclaim any sustainability evidence, there are easy ways to start making a change. Sustainable shipping methods, transportation fleets, and even green buildings show your customers and investors that you’re on the right track.
6. Making do with less
Consumers are already making the move to living a life with less: from minimal living to anti-consumption. And businesses are going to have to keep up. How can you adapt your brand to fit a market that’s leaning towards second-hand, preloved, and a make-do-and-mend attitude towards consumption and over-production? It goes for all markets, from food to clothing to energy and banking choices — it’s not intangible. It’s the everyday choices people are making.
Great examples of brand adaptation are Patagonias upcycled ranges made from old clothes and COS’s resale marketplace where customers can connect and trade old styles. In 2022, we expect to see resale models skyrocket as brands compete with existing platforms like eBay and Depop.
For food and agriculture, the push for more sustainable farming continues with more and more people cutting their meat consumption. And with 75% of Gen-Zers believing that locally-grown food is beneficial for the planet, the global agriculture economy might need to change its tack.
7. The metaverse
You didn’t think you were going to get through an article about 2022 trends without hearing about the Metaverse, did you?! Well, whether you’re tired of it already or can’t wait to embrace the brave new world it’s something we’re all going to have to get used to. But when it comes to sustainability, the Metaverse poses paradoxes.
It’s certainly more sustainable in some areas, for examples the ability to host conferences, events, and product showcases remotely. But the technology and AI needed to maintain the Metaverse is already under scrutiny. In fact, training one AI model can cost up to 5x the lifetime emissions of an average car.
Got more ideas for how businesses can lean into sustainability in 2022? We’d love to hear from you. And if you’re a business looking to make the change, get in touch with OggaDoon. We love to share our insights and help brands become greener.