Quality is the New Black: 8 Eco Trend Predictions for 2013


If you made it through the holiday season without accumulating hoards of stuff, congratulations, you’re ahead of the game. Since those well-meaning Mayans and their oooh the world is going to end prophesy left us a little, shall we say, not-entirely-disappointed, there’s much to look forward to in 2013. And credit that brush with the apocalypse for resetting many of our personal and collective priorities. I mean, we could have been obliterated by an errant asteroid, magnetic pole shifts, or a vengeful race of aliens…and the fact that we somehow survived has lightened the load a little, even if just slightly. Perhaps you’ve begun to notice this lightness by finding more meaning in experiences rather than things. Or maybe you’re taking more time to smell those roses…You’re in good company, as you’ll see a lot more emphasis on experiences as well as a few other important eco options trending this year. Read on for our top eco trend predictions for 2013.

  1. Quality: The word quality has come to mean the same as “expensive,” “indulgent,” even (gasp) “elite.” But that’s not accurate. While high quality items may often be more of an investment, they’re worth it. In fact, I’m calling it: the word “quality” is going to be this year’s new black–no matter what color it comes in. You’ll see a lot more emphasis on making quality investments in a number of areas—be that in your food and health choices, products, services or experiences. There are more reasons than ever to stop choosing the cheaper items that soon end up in landfills and cheaper quality foods that send our bodies into downward spirals. The healthier we are, the less likely we are to feel those impulses to buy poor quality products in the first place. Choose quality.
  2. Less: Like the upturn of quality, we’ll also start to see a lot more…of “less.” Whether that’s our own personal commitments to purchasing fewer items, or eco-minded businesses thinning out their offerings, 2013 will see a growing number of conscientious approaches to better uses of resources emphasizing less of an impact on the environment (such as fewer transport miles for food), and just how much more there can be in a whole lot less.
  3. Local: Quality + Less in many cases = Local. This growing trend is most noticeable in our food supply: farmers markets, CSA programs, community gardens, etc. Interest in local food will continue to grow and 2013 will also see interests in local business like credit unions instead of large banks, small retailers instead of big box stores and my personal favorite: the staycation.Cheaper and less stressful, people are going to enjoy more local parks and attractions getting to know and adore their local community.
  4. Fracking Out: Thanks to celebs like Mark Ruffalo and Robert Redford, along with the movie Promised Land, fracking is a trending topic. (So much so in fact that it toppled “climate change” in Google searches last year.) If you don’t know what fracking is yet, here’s a little 101 on its effects on our environment and our health. Be on the lookout for more activism opportunities and campaigns to stop this environmental nightmare.
  5. Non-GMO: Another source of activism is genetically modified foods. A contentious issue for some time, the failure of California’s Prop 37 measure in November  led to a number of viral Facebook campaigns and a groundswell of DIY labeling on foods suspected of containing GMOs. More brands, retailers and restaurants will be featuring non-GMO labeling and ingredients for better health and a safer environment.
  6. Eco/voluntourism: Everyone needs a little time away. But it doesn’t have to come at the expense of the planet or regional communities. So be on the lookout for eco resorts and tours when planning your next get away. Even working vacations such as volunteering on an organic farm or helping to plant trees in deforested areas are becoming quite popular. Experiences like these are not only memorable, but they can teach you great skills that can dramatically improve your quality of life.
  7. Co-op housing: Cooperative living is nothing new, but it’s trending more than ever right now says Oz Ragland, a co-housing expert. That may be because of the sluggish economy in recent years, but it’s also incredibly beneficial on the environment (9 people use my kitchen!). It also provides support and safety as well as creative and inspiring opportunities.
  8. DIY: Homesteaders and urban farmers have taught us a thing or two in recent years about how to eat, and now you can look for more cottage industries in fashion, personal care and the art world ala Etsy. And mirroring that rise is a robust DIY culture emerging ever so rapidly and earnestly. Sure it’s great to support a small-scale producer, but even better when it’s you.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Pink Sherbet Photography

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.