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March 2009 | While financial woes may hold back some green initiatives, the future has never
looked greener. Mainly because creating a more sustainable economy is not an option, but a ne-
cessity. And we all know that necessity is the mother of invention. Which is why this month, amidst
crumbling banks, G20 meetings and stimulus plans, we highlight 12 eco sub-trends that any mar-
keter or entrepreneur can act on today.

”ECO-BOUNTY”
From ECO-FRUGAL to ECO-METERING,
future profits will be green.

No, there won't be eco-fatigue in 2009, mainly because it's hard to ignore the mind-boggling for-
tunes (and accompanying power shifts and reductions in pollution) that are in store for those who
figure out how to get the world off its addiction to polluting power sources and wasteful consump-
tion.

So while banks are crumbling and multinationals are laying off people faster than you can say
‘downturn', every key player—from the Obama administration (find a short overview of its ambi-
tious eco-goals here) to the Chinese government—plans to dominate the post-recession economy
by going sustainable, including a heavy dose of rules and regulations. But it’s not all macro-
economic-geo-political-powerplay. Recession or not, consumers will continue to demand respon-
sible behavior from brands. Just one statistic: “Four out of five people say they are still buying
green products and services today--which sometimes cost more--even in the midst of a US reces-
sion.” (source: Reuters). Rest assured that the quest for an ECO-BOUNTY will continue at full
force:

“ECO-BOUNTY refers to the numerous opportunities, both short and long term, for brands that
participate in the epic quest for a sustainable society. Some of these opportunities exist despite the
current recession, others are fueled by it, not in the least because of new rules and regulations.
Downturn-obsessed brands who lose their eco-focus will find themselves left out in the cold when
the global economy starts recovering."

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So it's no wonder that we’ll continue to see a stream of eco sub-
trends. Like the dozen or so relatively fresh* ones you’ll find in this
briefing, which are begging to be sustainably and profitably ap-
plied by smart entrepreneurs and marketers. Some of them are
focused on the long-term (since when is a recession an excuse to
not look beyond tomorrow...?), while others will help you come up
with quick-fix, low-cost green innovations fit for recession-ridden
times.**

* That means we won’t be talking about the hunt for renewable


energy sources (that’s macro, and it’s being documented every-
where), or about trying to invent new services or products that are
merely eco-friendlier, a.k.a. the ‘eco-me-toos’.

** Now, let there be no doubt that because of the downturn (and


lower oil prices), we will of course see many green startups go
bust in the next 6 months—especially those with high upfront
investments and zero short-term revenues . And yes, some cash-
strapped consumers will (temporarily) shun premium-priced green With the recession deepening, count on all things ‘eco’ to be re-
products and services. positioned from ‘worthy but expensive’ to ‘cheap and, oh yes,
worthy’. On the one hand, cash-strapped consumers are going
out of their way to save money on energy bills, motorized trans-
port and other waste-prone, eco-unfriendly activities.* While the
environment may not be their first concern, they will nevertheless
do less damage. Other consumers are still primarily interested in
sustainable consumption, but no longer willing or able to pay the
usual premiums. Examples:

• BMW is now repositioning the Mini as not just fun-loving,


but cheap to run, and eco-friendlier to boot. This will
become an even more compelling story when the new
Mini E (E for electric) takes to the streets.

• Payless ShoeSource recently announced a new line of


affordable eco-minded shoes (Zoe & Zac) in April. On
average, the shoes will be under USD 30. Summer
Rayne Oakes, a green fashion and beauty expert, has
signed on as eco-consultant for the green footwear col-
lection, which will use sustainable and eco-friendly ma-
terials such as organic cotton and linen, natural hemp,
recycled outsoles and eco-smart packaging.

• Whirlpool claims that its new topload Cabrio HE washer


can save up to USD 900 in lifetime water and energy
costs, while GE says its hybrid electric water heater will
save consumers approximately USD 250 annually. Koh-
ler Co. says that switching to its latest models of water-
conserving shower heads, toilets and faucets would
save a family of four between USD 90 and 200 annually
(source: WSJ).

* Quite ironic of course, is the rapidly diminishing demand for oil


due to a global decrease in economic activity, which in turn low-
ers the price of energy and fuel and therefore discourages (at least
for the time being) costly investments in renewable energy
sources. We guess you can’t have it all...

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"Eco-friendly goods and services sporting bold, iconic markers
and design, that help their eco-conscious owners show off their
 
eco-credentials to their peers. At the heart of ECO-ICONIC is a
status shift (isn’t there always?): many consumers are eager to
flaunt their green behavior and possessions because there are
now millions of other consumers who are actually impressed by
green lifestyles.”Per the above, ECO-ICONIC is not about all
green products, it’s about those products that through their dis-
tinct appearance or stories actually show that they're green, or at
least invoke some curiosity from onlookers, and thus help their
owners/users attract recognition from their peers. How 'new' is
this? Well, just take a look around: a surprisingly high number of
green products and services, imagined and designed in a distant
Around the world, being eco-conscious has become a status past when green was seen as a compromise, still try to hide their
symbol for consumers, partly replacing traditional status symbols sustainable superiority by looking as much like 'normal', 'non-
that are now associated with pollution, waste and excess. Two green' products as possible."
ECO-STATUS developments to watch: ECO-ICONIC (create an
eye-catching green brand/product, advertise the hell out of it and F o r ( m a n y ! ) e x a m p l e s f r o m l a s t y e a r, c h e c k o u t
make it very recognizable to the masses, which in turn makes it trendwatching.com/trends/ecoiconic.htm. For more recent
easy for buyers to get respect from strangers) and ECO-STATUS- spottings, scan the below:
STORIES (which involves providing buyers of little known/niche
eco-brands with conversation starters and story details to make
sure they’ll get a status fix from their peers).

• The Bigbelly is a solar powered trash compaction unit


that holds up to five times as much waste as a regular
bin. The highly flexible units can be placed almost any-
where, reducing waste collection and energy costs.

Some examples we highlighted last summer.


• Victorian Eco Innovation Lab, a sustainability organiza-
This is what we said in our earlier briefing about ECO-ICONIC: tion founded by the Australian government in 2006, in-
vented a shading system to harvest solar energy in
schoolyards called VEIL Solar Shades. A user-friendly
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touch screen at the base of the shade is designed so generated to charge a vessel's main batteries and keep
that children can use it to monitor solar energy produc- the boat running. Solar Sailor-powered vessels are al-
tion and storage, turn the shade and recharge portable ready in service in Sydney Harbor, while North American
devices using energy from the shade. launches are in the making in New York (Circle Line) and
San Francisco (Alcatraz). Last month, the company also
announced the sale of four ferry boats to Hong Kong as
well as the design of another for the 2010 World Expo in
Shanghai and ongoing discussions about building a
clean-tech tanker prototype for Chinese shipping com-
pany COSCO. Tokyo, Amsterdam, London, Stockholm,
Rio and others to follow?

• The DSe Hybrid 12m is a sustainable luxury yacht,


which can cruise indefinitely at speeds up to 6 knots
while creating zero CO2 emissions using technology that
combines diesel, solar and electric power. On-board
amenities include a master stateroom with a 270-degree • Texas-based Ronn Motor Company has designed a sexy
panorama view, a 26” HDTV and a Bose home theater new eco-friendly car, the Scorpion. This hybrid features
system. Prominent solar panels and wind turbines be- the company’s Hydrogen Fuel Injection (HFI) fuel delivery
stow a heavy dose of ECO-ICONIC on the owner. system which increases fuel mileage between 20-40%
and reduces CO2 emissions to nearly zero. Initially, only
200 Scorpions (priced at USD 150,000) will be available
after production starts in Q2 of this year. One word of
warning: UBER-PREMIUM-ECO products are obviously
a much tougher sell now, so this category isn’t for entre-
preneurs who are faint of heart or empty of pocket...

• Toyota announced the details of the new Prius at the


North American International Auto Show in Detroit
(January 2009). This third-generation Prius comes with
moon-roof solar panels above the rear seating that
• Australian Solar Sailor has developed a ‘solar wing’ for power the ventilation system, which is designed to keep
ferries and yachts, which harnesses both sun and wind the car cool while it's parked in order to reduce air-
energy. Like a large sail, the (very iconic) solar wing can conditioning time.
be manipulated into different rotating positions, as well
as folding flat in high winds. Vessels can reach speeds of
10 to 13 knots, the same maximum speed as conven-
tional ferries. Even on a cloudy day, enough energy is

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• Not super-new, but still fun: Philippe Starck has offered
his own take on the electricity-generating wind turbine.
The design, called Democratic Ecology, features trans-
parent plastic blades and is designed to produce 80% of
a home’s electricity. The first in a series of designs re-
flecting Starck’s new environmental focus, the turbine
could soon be joined by a solar panel that attaches as a
thin film to existing windows. The device will be priced at
EUR 500-800.
What’s your Baacode?

Here's how we defined the STATUS STORIES trend:

As more brands (have to) go niche and therefore tell stories that
aren't known to the masses, and as experiences and non-
consumption-related expenditures take over from physical (and
more visible) status symbols, consumers will increasingly have to
tell each other stories to achieve a status dividend from their pur-
chases. Expect a shift from brands telling a story, to brands help-
ing consumers tell status-yielding stories to their peers.

• The technology is still in its infancy, but phones are go- The link to ECO is easy: a green lifestyle is (in some circles) the
ing solar. Available from June 2009, the Coral-200-Solar ultimate status symbol, and thus ‘green stories’ are in vogue.
offers basic mobile phone features with an integrated Everything having to do with (eco-friendly) sourcing, production,
solar charger. The device was created by Digicel, which ingredients and distribution represents a potential benefit to con-
primarily serves consumers in emerging Caribbean mar- sumers keen on status stories. And the concept is extra attractive
kets, who are among the 2 billion worldwide with limited for service providers, since they often don't have physical prod-
or no access to electricity. Samsung recently unveiled its ucts with which to convey their eco credentials. Some examples:
solar-powered touchscreen phone Blue Earth at the
Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Users can gener-
ate enough electrical power to keep their phone charged
using the solar panel on the back of the phone, and the
phone is made with recycled plastic from water bottles.
The Blue Earth’s interface allows users to quickly switch
back and forth to an energy-efficient screen using the
'eco mode' option. The 'eco walk' function allows users
to count how much they are reducing CO2 emissions by
using a built in pedometer to measure each step they
take.

• Established by a former gym teacher, German Zirkel-


training sells a range of bags made from old German
gym equipment. The handmade products reinforce their
genuine heritage by promising to include a ‘little bit of
sweat’. Prices range from EUR 90 to EUR 249.

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• Crop to Cup is a fair trade coffee brand with a twist. In
addition to buying coffee directly from farmers, repre-
senting them in markets and reinvesting in their liveli-
hood, the brand also allows customers to trace their cup
of coffee back to the farmer that produced it. Which in
turn allows them to learn about the origins of the coffee
and engage in a dialogue about the product.

• Most garments produced by Icebreaker now feature a


unique ‘Baacode’ which can be entered on Icebreaker's
website to trace the wool in a garment to one of 120
sheep stations in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. A
customer can then view the living conditions of the ani-
mals that produced their wool, meet the farmers who run
the stations and find out about their production process.

• Windunie is a collective of Dutch wind turbine owners Info is power, power means money, and so on. Keep an eye out
who feed sustainable energy into the grid, for online pur- for a myriad of green intelligence services that will help consum-
chase by consumers. Customers pick a specific owner ers detect, understand, milk or unmask the eco-consequences of
that they want to buy electricity from, and are shown a companies and their own behavior.
'passport' listing full details of the turbine owner, includ-
ing their name, date of birth, location, hobbies, etc.

ECO-METERING is where ECO-FRUGAL and ECO-STATUS meet.


Expect thrifty, status-seeking consumers to embrace a growing
crop of devices and services that help them make the most of
energy saving options (ECO-CHEAP) and simultaneously display
the related ‘green savings’ to peers (ECO-STATUS), or at least
provide them with eco-bragging ammunition.

• Virgin Atlantic has teamed up with Anti-Apathy to create Smart Meter Ontario, an informational site maintained by the
Worn Again, an eco-fashion initiative designed to help government of Ontario, has a good summary of the benefits of
the airline meet its goal of halving its landfill waste by smart meters:
2012. To achieve this, Worn Again has used family-run,
small-scale workshops in Portugal to produce 2,000 • You’ll be able to take action to manage your electricity
limited-edition bags reclaimed from 1,000 old airplane bills. With attention to how and when you use electricity,
seats. Also check out Above + Below, which turns re- you'll be able to contain or reduce your costs.
stored London Underground and London Bus seat cov- • You’ll get real feedback about your electricity use.
ers into shoes. • Your electricity bill will show how much you consum-
ed—and, in the future, detailed information may be
available to you via the internet or by telephone.
• You’ll get more precise electricity bills. The bills you re-
  ceive will be based on the hourly readings taken and
sent by your Smart Meter.
Examples:

• In September 2008, smart meter producer Echelon an-


nounced the first full-scale roll-out of its Networked En-
ergy Services (NES) System in Germany. The public util-
ity of Hassfurt awarded the contract to provide all of its
approximately 10,000 customers with an advanced me-
tering infrastructure over the next three years. In fact,
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Germany recently proposed a new energy law requiring
all new and remodeled homes to be equipped with smart
meters by 2010 to promote energy conservation and
efficiency. Echelon also has a deal with Swedish utility
Halmstad Energi och Miljö AB to update its customer
base of 38,000 electricity meters, and in November
2008, the NES System was chosen by the Group of
Electricity Distributors in France (GAELD) to provide me-
tering systems to up to 90,000 homes, to be completed • Smart meters need a smart grid. Keep an eye on GE and
by 2013. Google, who are cooperating to develop a smart electri-
cal grid that can make better use of power derived from
renewable energy, and will enable consumers to monitor
individual energy use, sell energy back to utilities from
electric car batteries and program appliances to turn on
at times when electricity is least expensive. Case in
point: Google’s new PowerMeter aims to make energy
consumption data more accessible to the consumer.
Aiming to help users make better energy decisions, the
technology taps into Google's architecture and the
iGoogle gadget platform to show consumers their en-
• Expect simpler (and better-looking) domestic ECO- ergy use in near real-time, including an analysis of how
METERING applications to make waves, too: combining much energy is used by different household appliances
home security and energy monitoring, AlertMe uses a and activities.
combination of motion sensors and power outlet moni-
tors to keep homeowners informed via a hub plugged
into the home’s broadband connection. The hub informs
AlertMe servers in the event of a security issue as well as
allowing the user to monitor and control the usage of
any appliance plugged into monitored sockets. More?
Wattson is a household energy monitor that receives
information from a transmitter device attached to the
meter and displays current usage data. And The Home • From homebound to on-the-go ECO-METERING:
Joule plugs into a power outlet and displays energy us- eco:Drive is a new Fiat-branded widget that aims to
age broadcast by the consumer’s energy meter. Com- improve driving efficiency by up to 15%. This means a
bined with information from the energy company, it dis- smaller carbon footprint at the same time as saving on
plays the real-time cost of energy. fuel. The widget can be transferred onto a USB stick and
plugged into Fiat’s Blue&Me technology, which is a USB
port on the dashboard. The software then evaluates the
user's driving style and gives a mark out of 100. Tutorials
subsequently encourage drivers to improve their driving,
their score and ultimately, reduce their carbon emis-
sions. The software also allows users to join an online
community of Fiat drivers called Ecoville.

• And let’s not forget (excessive) water use: UK-based


Ecokettle’s Eco Showerdrop is the world’s first low-
cost, universal shower meter. A digital LED display indi-
cates exactly how much water a particular shower uses
so that consumers can monitor their at-home use of
water, saving money and energy. No installation or tools
are required to install a Showerdrop, which is available
for order through several sustainable suppliers posted
on the company's website.

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• Not to be outdone by Fiat, Honda’s Ecological Drive
Assist System, or Eco Assist is now available on its new
Insight hybrid model in Japan, and will be featured on
the American Insight Hybrid from Spring 2009. During
the journey, the system lights up to give the driver ambi-
ent messages about their driving style. Smooth accel-
eration and braking are rewarded with a green glow
while aggressive starts and stops are reprimanded in
blue.

In our January 2009 Briefing we stated that ‘maps are the new
interface’. A quick refresher:

“Will this year be the year in which all things ‘contextual’, ‘app’,
• And of course ECO-METERING is jumping on the apps- ‘local’, ‘urban’, 'tags', 'lidar', ‘smartphone’, ‘convenience’, 'Cell
train, too: iPhone app MeterRead promises to save us- ID', ‘spontaneity’, ‘infolust’, and ‘GPS’ finally come together in
ers 10-20% off their energy bills by monitoring energy one orgasmic celebration of map-based tracking, finding, knowing
consumption. The application produces reports and and connecting? Embraced by eager consumer masses who will
predicts usage for the next 30 days. Ecorio is an An- flock to anything from friend-finders to lowest-gas-price-locators?
droid application that collects journey data via GPS and, Aided by services that already know which street a user is on?
with the help of information such as mode of travel or
type of car, calculates the carbon output of each trip. Judging from increased levels of MAPMANIA, we’re nearing that
Users can view past journeys and access carpool and destination. As the Googles, Nokias (who expect half of their
public transit recommendations as well as purchasing handsets to be GPS-enabled by 2010-2012), MapQuests,
carbon offsets based on their footprint. Last but not Navteqs, Openstreetmap.orgs, Apples and TomToms of this world
least, Carbon Diem, a new software package that's continue to build the necessary infrastructure, devices and apps,
planned for launch later this year, runs on users' GPS- any consumer-focused brand would be stupid not to be partner-
enabled mobile phones to determine how they're getting ing or experimenting with map-based services. Why? Geography
around at any given moment—on foot, by car, or on a is about everything that is literally close to consumers, and it's a
bus, train or airplane. As an algorithm tracks the trans- universally familiar method of organizing, finding and tracking
portation mode used and distance covered, the software relevant information on objects, events and people. And now that
uses that information to keep an up-to-the-minute re- superior geographical information is accessible on-the-go, from
cord of the user's carbon emissions, displaying the re- in-car navigation to iPhones, the sky is the limit.
sults in both daily and weekly terms.
Eco-angles to MAPMANIA are popping up everywhere, too:

• The Green Map System has launched a community-


driven version Open Green Map, which offers users the
opportunity to add green locations and view recommen-
dations by others. The site is available on mobile de-
vices, and allows users to integrate Flickr photos and
YouTube videos.

• FirstLook provides free access to average wind speeds


anywhere in the world through a dynamic 5 km resolu-
tion map. Users are given the option to purchase a de-
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tailed report from 3TIER, the company behind the serv- household's (harmful) consumption is beneficial enough, the fact
ice. The tool also offers free solar irradiation data for the that such advice leads to savings makes this a very 2009 devel-
United States. opment. In the coming months, count on cash-strapped consum-
ers (ECO-FRUGAL!) to embrace sustainability with a vengeance,
but first and foremost for monetary reasons. Next? How about
• Also check out Roofray, a Californian startup that aims helping consumers make money by being green, by for example
to give consumers the information they need to install letting them generate and sell excess power to the 'grid'? A few
solar panels. The firm provides modeling tools that use examples:
Google maps to determine how much solar energy a
home could capture and how that would affect their New York-based Green Irene offers a Green Home Makeover
monthly bills based on past weather conditions, current service for USD 99, which involves a visit from an eco-consultant
bills, the pitch of the roof and the roof area available. The who will assess the home and provide a personalized set of rec-
site eventually aims to provide a ‘RoofRaytings’ system ommendations for saving money, energy and water. If the cus-
that would be available to homebuyers as an indication tomer chooses to make those changes, they can purchase solu-
of solar potential. tions from Green Irene. The site also offers green office make-
overs and Go Green workshop parties. Similar services exist in
London (Green Homes Concierge) and Sydney (Todae).

• And from the map gurus themselves: Google Maps


Transit Layer, which is available for over 50 cities
worldwide, overlays public transport lines onto the main
map view, allowing the user to easily plan a green(er)
journey to their destination.

A plethora of sites now offer tips and advice on how to lead a


greener life. They make for great partners if you have a (genuinely)
green service or product to promote. A few we like:

• Green Thing is a non-profit public service that inspires


people to lead a greener life. With the help of videos and
stories from creative people and community members in
196 countries around the world, Green Thing focuses on
seven green actions, and helps users enjoy doing them.

ECONCIERGES are firms and services dedicated to helping


households go green. And while any advice that reduces a

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• Local Reuse (to view it, you have to have access to the
iTunes Store) is a free iPhone application that allows
users to receive and donate free reusable items. The aim
is to keep useful items out of landfills.

• Aiming to provide a single, central library of sustainable


materials, Ecolect could be the solution for architects
and industrial designers who have previously had to
search among providers and information scattered all
• UK charity Oxfam recently recruited a team of Green over the web. The site features materials with sustain-
Grannies to offer advice to the public on a range of sub- able attributes and complements them with information
jects, from darning socks to making delicious food from and case studies designed to stimulate discussion over
leftovers. Part of Good Ideas Unltd, Oxfam’s new life- their use.
styles campaign, the service aims not only to help UK
consumers save cash, but also to encourage recycling
and to help tackle climate change. • Aiming to provide an alternative to the UK’s oversub-
scribed land-allotment lists and convert underused land
back into productive use, the Landshare campaign
• Green Groove offers users a packaged solution for seeks to match would-be gardeners with landowners
charting their way to greener habits. Visitors to the site willing to share their arable land. The site—which is set
are offered three steps to creating their own plan for ‘a to launch this spring—lets potential users register in ad-
phased withdrawal on catastrophic climate change.’ vance as a Grower, Landowner, Land-spotter (someone
After selecting type, length and difficulty of their plan-to- who knows of unused land), or Facilitator (someone will-
be; they're invited to pick their goals from an extensive ing to help elderly gardeners and others in need of assis-
list. Finally, goals are prioritized to create a step-by-step tance).
plan that can be followed via a ‘goal tracker’ widget.

• A virtual world for green tips and tricks is offered by New


York-based Climate Culture, which combines guidance,
community and gaming to help consumers reduce their
energy consumption.

Last but not least, in a TRANSPARENCY TYRANNY world,


there’s no hiding. With consumer interest and economic impor-
tance of all things eco growing indefinitely, expect the number of
sites and apps dedicated to mercilessly uncovering and exposing
green BS. Just one example:

• The Greenwashing Index offers consumers a chance to


highlight cases of ‘greenwashing’, whereby a company
spends more money and effort on marketing themselves
as ‘green’ than they spend taking effective measures to
fulfill this promise. Users of the site can rate and com-
ment on ads, as well as posting their own examples to
One of the myriad things the web excels at is matching supply be evaluated by other users in line with GWI's criteria.
and demand. Here are some examples of companies making the
most ECO-MATCHING:
 
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Our 2OO9 Trend Report comes in PDF and PowerPoint format. 15O+ slides/pages with
bold visuals, speaking notes and videos. Yes, we’ve done most of the work for you!

More at www.trendwatching.com/trendreport/

ECO-FEEDERS are small, sometimes tiny, new businesses and


services that feed (off) big ECO players. Here’s an example that
sums up this sub-trend in a nutshell:

• Luscious Garage is the first woman-owned and oper-


ated autoshop in San Fancisco dedicated to servicing
hybrids with a specialty in converting them to all-
electrical plug-ins. Since opening in 2007 this unortho-
dox auto garage has attracted customers seeking a
more friendly car repair experience with the garage’s laid
back décor featuring plants and books. So far, the vast
majority of customers have been Prius owners, but Lus-
cious Garage is planning to diversify beyond hybrids in
order to increase the company’s customer base. Which
Another development that beautifully marries sustainability with goes to show that ECO-FEEDER businesses may never
long-term savings: eco-conscious and recession-wary consumers be the next HUGE thing but they’re sure fun to start up if
buying sturdier stuff. Be inspired by: you’re the niche/long-tail entrepreneurial type.

• Welsh clothing brand Howies offers a line of super-


durable clothing called Howies' Hand-Me-Down that
features jackets, backpacks and messenger bags de-
signed specifically to last for 10 or more years. The
company crafts its products painstakingly and uses
high-quality components like organic tweed and venti-
le—an extremely tightly woven cotton fabric that is in-
herently water-resistant and uses 30 percent more yarn
than conventional fabrics.

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As outlined in our October 2008 briefing, one of the most visible
perks right now is dedicated—if not free parking—for hybrid cars,
but how about free charging, too?

• Through a pilot program, Seattle-Tacoma International


Airport now offers six prime parking spaces for electric
vehicles. The green-striped spots—with power sock-
ets—are located on the garage's fifth floor and are avail-
able on a first-come, first-served basis. Standard park-
ing rates apply, but the electricity is free.

FREE LOVE, or the art of giving stuff to consumers, is an endur-


ing trend. For a lengthy FREE LOVE overview, please read the full
Matching our recent GENERATION G trend with all things eco is briefing (published in March 2008). Here’s an eco-twist we like:
a no-brainer. GENERATION G (that’s G for generosity) captures
the growing importance of generosity as a leading societal and
business mindset. As consumers are disgusted with greed and its
current dire consequences for the economy — which has them
longing more than ever for institutions that care—the need for
more generosity beautifully coincides with the ongoing (and pre-
recession) emergence of an online-fueled culture of individuals
who share, give, engage, create and collaborate. For many, shar-
ing a passion and consequently receiving recognition has re-
placed 'taking' as their status symbol of choice. Businesses • Freegreen is a website that offers free, customizable
should follow this societal and behavioral shift, as much it may green house plans in both traditional and modern styles.
oppose their age-old devotion to me, myself and I. The service relies on paid placement from product
manufacturers, but it takes pains to be transparent
Here are some smart innovations by brands that manage to be about the products it displays, offering users ratings
generous to both their customers and the environment: from established third-party green certification programs
such as LEED and NAHB and research performance
data through its own energy modeling reports.

For an extensive overview of the new wave of perks, we'll refer


you to our October 2008 briefing, in which we defined
PERKONOMICS as follows:

PERKONOMICS | "A new breed of perks and privileges, added to


brands' regular offerings, is satisfying consumers’ ever-growing
desire for novel forms of status and/or convenience, across all
industries. The benefits for brands are equally promising: from
escaping commoditization to showing empathy in turbulent
times."

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Reward schemes will forever be a favorite of both producers and
consumers. Here are some green takes:

• Philadelphia-based RecycleBank enables households


to earn RecycleBank Dollars, redeemable for discount
coupons at Whole Foods, RiteAid, Starbucks and par-
ticipating local companies just by leaving their recycla-
bles out to be collected. RecycleBank containers are
embedded with identifying barcodes which collection
trucks scan to track how much each household is recy-
cling; the more customers recycle, the more they earn in
RecycleBank dollars—up to the equivalent of USD 35
per month.

• Currently operating in eight regions in the US, NuRide


allows its 40,000 users to earn up to USD 350 per year
in rewards exchangeable for retailer discounts, gift Basically, once companies and consumers can no longer get
cards, and tickets to shows and attractions just by shar- away with anything less than totally offsetting their negative im-
ing rides and otherwise limiting their car use. Because pact on the environment—and this will happen sooner rather than
registered carpoolers specify their trip origin, destination, later—the only way to stand out, to gain any kind of respect in the
travel preferences and vehicle information; sponsors are eco-sphere, will be to go the extra mile and be over-generous.
able to target highly specific sets of consumers, both From planting more trees than is strictly required, to cleaning up
nationally and locally. not only your own mess, but someone else's, too.

This is what we said in an earlier briefing:

ECO-BOOSTERS | “Expect companies who are serious about


GENERATION G and the environment to quickly move from
merely neutralizing and offsetting their undesirable eco-effects to
actually boosting the environment by going the extra mile.”

Count on being sustainable or being carbon neutral to soon be


just the starting point, not the end goal. So think about how your
brand can actually boost the environment instead of just limiting
damage. Call it PR or responsibility or both. As long as you go out
of your way to be generous, everyone wins.

See the ECO-BOOSTERS section in our ECO-ICONIC briefing for


examples.

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bold visuals, speaking notes and videos. Yes, we’ve done most of the work for you!
 

More at www.trendwatching.com/trendreport/

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ECO-EMBEDDED, which we first highlighted last summer, could
also have been dubbed ECO-PEACE-OF-MIND:

“While the current good intentions of corporations and consumers


This is a fun one for your product/service/experience develop- are helpful, serious eco-results will depend on making products
ment team: come up with green innovations that are truly superi- and processes more sustainable without consumers even noticing
or—not just eco-friendlier, but better-looking and cheaper than it, and, if necessary, not leaving much room for consumers and
incumbent offerings. Like: companies to opt for less sustainable alternatives. Which will of-
ten mean forceful, if not painful, government intervention, or some
• Luna Road produces and installs a range of LED based serious corporate guts, or brilliantly smart design and thinking, if
road lighting with the aim of replacing traditional reflec- not all of those combined. Think green buildings, or a ban on
tive “cat’s eyes”. Luna Road lights don't have to rely on plastic bags or gas-guzzlers—anything that becomes truly em-
a car’s headlamps for reflected illumination, which bedded into daily life, and by default leaves no choice, no room
means they provide drivers with visibility for miles ahead. for complacency.”
The solar-powered lights offer 12 hours of after-dark lane
lighting from 8 hours of daylight charging In fact, the regulation part of ECO-EMBEDDED has already been
called the 'fourth R', adding to the three golden rules for individu-
als keen on a more sustainable lifestyle: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
• Philips (who by the way claim that 25% of their total
sales now comes from green products) has introduced For a full overview, check out last year’s briefing, then keep an
an ecological lighting concept called the Light Blossom. eye out for an avalanche of new regulation, whether it’s the EU
The Light Blossom collects energy and monitors light demanding uniform phone chargers, or the Vancouver City Coun-
emissions differently in its ‘day’ and ‘night’ modes: at cil decreeing the highest green standards for private sector de-
night the LEDs beam light only when and where needed velopment in North America, or California getting the green light
through proximity-sensing technology, and during the to impose stricter limits on auto emissions. Regulation is one of
day the Light Blossom imitates a real flower with petals the main reasons why ECO-BOUNTY will continue to build, re-
that open toward (and follow) the sun, storing solar en- cession or otherwise.
ergy. The Light Blossom can also function as a wind
turbine.

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• To stick with kids: how about green educational toys?
Doesn't sound fun? Check out the Power House by
Thames & Kosmos, a USD 149.95 miniature (working)
green house with solar panels, a wind turbine and a de-
salinization system. The kit’s aim: teach children what it’s
like to live off the grid, and get them (and their parents)
to “consider a life without fossil fuel.” To make the expe-
rience more realistic, the user manual incorporates a
There are plenty of schools out there with green practices among storyline about high-tech pioneers inhabiting a small
their goals, but a new school in Bali will be entrepreneurially green island who must make use of limited resources to sur-
from top to bottom: vive. The 70 experiments and 20 building projects that
form part of the kit mimic the tasks the kit’s fictional pio-
• The Green School in Bali boasts a working organic neers must perform. Expect many new toys to have a
chocolate factory, aquaculture ponds, organic vegetable green slant, not only in the materials they're made of (or
gardens, edible mazes and perma-cultural gardens all being solar-powered, for that matter) but with a green
located on a campus built entirely of low-impact and purpose, too.
environmentally conscious materials. The Green School
is open to preschool through eight grade level children
from all over the world, with tuitions ranging from roughly
USD 4,000 to USD 9,000 per year.

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• During his  address  to  the first Automotive News Green
Car Conference in Detroit on 13 November 2008, Carlos
Tavares (Nissan's executive vice president) outlined his
plans to investigate electric car battery leasing op-
tions as a sustainable component of future versions of
Nissan’s EV. Nissan also plans to work closely with re-
As consumers become more transient*, eschewing anything too tailers on innovative battery production and recycling
‘fixed’—big ticket items having become synonymous with bore- methods in order to deliver improved power supply op-
dom, with hassle, with quickly-out-of-date, with maintenance, tions to its EV customers.
with taking up too large a part of budgets, if not lives—the move
from fixed to ephemeral might just have some positive side ef-
fects for the environment. Think more services and less goods, • Connect by Hertz offers car sharing in London, Paris
more re-use by buying and selling secondhand goods, more and New York City, with more cities to be added later
shared ownership. From our TRANSUMERS briefing: this year. The service offers 180 free miles per day and
free gas at a cost ranging from USD 8.50–10 per hour,
"TRANSUMERS are consumers driven by experiences instead of with insurance, roadside assistance, maintenance and
the ‘fixed’, by entertainment, by discovery, by fighting boredom. cleaning all among the benefits included. Members can
They increasingly live a transient lifestyle, freeing themselves from reserve cars online or by phone, and vehicles are ac-
the hassles of permanent ownership and possessions. The fixed is cessed via a smart chip-enabled Connect Card. What's
replaced by an obsession with the here and now, an ever-shorter next? How about Hertz Bikes?
satisfaction span, and a lust to collect as many experiences and
stories as possible. Hey, the past is, well, over, and the future is
uncertain, so all that remains is the present, living for the now. "

*Needless to say, if temporary becomes just another word for


'disposable', the outlook for the environment isn't as rosy.

For an eco-friendly example of TRANSUMERISM, look no further


than car sharing—especially the clubs that help people get rid of
their cars altogether. Research shows that every car-share vehicle
on the road replaces seven to eight owned vehicles, due to peo-
ple selling their cars or deciding against buying a second or third
vehicle (source: Sydney Morning Herald). As of March 2009 there
are car share organizations in nearly 1,000 cities worldwide.
• Speaking of bikes: Bixi is a high-tech public bike system
in Montreal (even more sophisticated than Paris’ Velib
service) to be launched this spring, using bikes equipped
with RFID tags that allow users to track availability online
via real-time information beamed to the web from the
system's solar-powered bike stands. Users will pay a
membership fee of CDN 78 for one year, CDN 24 for one
month or CDN 5 for one day, with the first half hour of
every trip provided free of charge.

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• From bikes and cars to phones (for TRANSUMERS, the
phone is the new car anyway ;-), and from more to less: Forget traditional advertising for promoting green products and
as part of Nokia's strategy, the company has released a services: make the advertising itself clean and green! Get inspired
variant of their N79 handset that comes in less packag-
by:
ing and doesn't include a charger. The idea is for the
customer to reuse their old charger; saving energy and • British media agency Curb offers low-impact advertising
reducing waste. Which coincides with the EU looking that incorporates natural materials and is easy on the
at forcing mobile phone companies to use a standard environment. Used in high profile campaigns by compa-
adaptor to cut down on waste. Which is very ECO- nies like Adidas and Volkswagen, Curb creates sand
EMBEDDED. But we’re digressing ;-) sculptures of all sizes, projects images onto falling
sheets of water, burns patterns and logos into wood
using that uses magnifying glasses and offers a ‘logrow’
service to cut logos as big as 30 meters wide into turf.

• Mailing Vert from Paris-based agency TBWA\Excel is a


direct mailing service that goes beyond the use of recy-
cled paper. Partners in Mailing Vert adhere to a charter
including four principles: to protect the environment by
purifying all waste water and using vegetable-based
inks, solvents and cleaning agents; to preserve raw ma-
terials and protect natural resources through the use of
paper that's either recycled or derived from sustainably
managed forests; to track waste and minimize energy
consumption by optimizing transportation networks; and
to measure and offset the ecological impact of each
phase of the direct-mailing process.

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• Sustainable Development Multimedia’s Pubeco in-
vites French consumers to reduce the environmental
impact of print advertising by encouraging their users to
view ads of local relevance to them online. Users post a
free sticker on their mailbox that reads: "No leaflet, thank
you—I'm reading them on the internet," use a postal
code to create a personal space on the site displaying all
the ads they want to search and earn points each time
they visit the website that are then converted into grants
given to the site's partners.

What already goes for the consumer arena at large, will soon ap-
ply to the eco-arena, too: expectations will be sky-high. This is
what we’ve said in the past:

• Dutch creative agency Spranq has developed a new font "The EXPECTATION ECONOMY is inhabited by experienced, well-
called Ecofont that's specifically designed to extend the informed consumers from Canada to South Korea who have a
life of ink cartridges and toner by using 20 percent less long list of high expectations that they apply to each and every
ink than traditional fonts. The free, downloadable font is good, service and experience on offer. Their expectations are
available for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux, and works based on years of self-training in hyper-consumption, and on the
best at a 9- or 10-point size. biblical flood of new-style, readily available information sources,
curators and BS filters, which help them find and expect not just
basic standards of quality, but the 'best of the best'."

The eco side of things? Soon there will be well-designed if not


superior ‘green’ versions of everything. And consumers will know
where to find them, whether that's in Denmark or China. Which
raises the bar for brands not offering eco-versions of whatever it
is they’re peddling. Just a random list of ECO-EXPECTATIONS
spottings that show that no industry or sector—from eyewear to
adult toys—is immune:

• Shenzhen-based automotive company BYD has an-


nounced plans to be the first brand to mass-market
electric cars in China by the end of this year or early
2010, with plans to bring the cars to European and North
American markets in 2011. The BYD e6 can run 300
kilometers on a single full charge and will retail in China
for CNY 200,000 (approximately USD 29,000). BYD’s
• Toyota unveiled the latest version of their Prius hybrid at
gasoline-electric hybrid F6DM can be plugged into a
the 2009 Detroit auto show. The launch was accompa-
home electric outlet and is capable of traveling 100 km
nied with flyers embedded with a variety of seeds and
with a full charge, and will retail for CNY 150,000 (USD
the slogan “Good ideas grow. Literally.” How’s that for
22,000). Both BYD cars are safer than other electric cars
an ECO-BOOSTER? (Source and image: PSFK.com.)
because of the lithium ion battery technology that BYD
has developed, which uses iron phosphate as one of the

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main electrode materials to keep batteries from explod- • Insider London offers a GBP 12.50, three-hour
ing due to overheating. "Cutting-Edge Green Tour” that highlights the most ex-
citing and innovative sustainable retail concepts, build-
ings and designs that London has to offer. Naturally,
tours are by foot and public transport only.

• Adult toys are going green: Earth Erotics lives up to its


tag line of ‘Doing it Green’ by offering a range of non-
toxic, organic and environmentally friendly bedroom ac-
cessories, while Coco de Mer offers a selection of sus- • Singapore’s Nanyang Optical has recently begun an
tainable adult toys, including a wooden spanking paddle eco-conversion of its brand by only selling green
handcrafted by a fair trade project in India. Meanwhile, eyewear brands such as LinkSkin glasses which are
InHerTube (NSFW) offers a range of adult harnesses manufactured to be RoHS-compliant using recycled
made from 100% recycled rubber. materials with no lead, mercury, cadmium or soldering.

We could go on and on. How ECO-EXPECTATIONS will evolve


into ECO-BOOSTERS. How ECO-EMBEDDED will leave brands
with no choice but to be green. The main takeaway for now? It’s
all happening, so just get going ;-)

• Green building solutions retailer Green Depot has re-


cently opened a flagship store in Manhattan that is de-
signed to demonstrate the high-performance eco build-
ing materials in action. A light booth made of recycled
resin materials, for example, helps shoppers compare
light bulbs and paint colors in a controlled setting, while
the Zero-VOC Paint Bar serves up a line of paints free of
volatile organic chemicals. See also Natural Interiors
and Eco-Logisch.

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With consumers, governments and corporations having acknowl-
edged—and even embraced—sustainability as one of the major
challenges of our time, the opportunities are endless. This briefing
is obviously just a snapshot of all the eco sub-trends that are cur-
rently emerging. So, once again, this is something that’s happen-
ing now, not a forecast for 2012. What to do? If you have even
one entrepreneurial bone in your body, that’s an easy question to
answer:

• Take any of the trends/examples above, spend an hour


or two brainstorming, then come up with one new prod-
uct, service or experience per trend for your customers.
And then build & execute ;-)
• Figure out which of the above-mentioned brands you
should really be partnering with.
• Most fun of all, come up with your own eco sub-trends
and accompanying innovations. What about ECO-
BARTER, ECO-SEX, ECO-CLOUT, ECO-TOYS, ECO-
ECCENTRIC, ECO-CHIC and so on?
And if you’re in advertising: start an agency focusing on eco-
campaigns (including green distribution channels and manifesta-
tions) today. The bounty will not disappoint.

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