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FUTURE THINKING SUSTAINABILITY

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FUTURE THINKING TREND REPORT ALIYAH TURNBULL N0670964 WORD COUNT:3273

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CONTENTS INTRODUCTION PAGE 5 METHODOLOGY PAGE 6-7 THE TREND PAGE 8-11 TREND DRIVERS PAGE 12-15 THE CONSUMER PAGE 16-19 INDUSTRY IMPACTS PAGE 20-27 THE FUTURE PAGE 28-31 BIBLIOGRAPHY AND REFERENCES PAGE 32-40

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“We’re the big brained animals on this planet and we’re putting everything in danger because we don’t really understand the planet as a whole, and human beings, through our consumption and our waste, are messing with the system” (Graham Hawkes, 2018)

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INTRODUCTION We hear the term sustainability all the time, but what does it really mean? Does it truly affect us personally? How much of a difference can you make? There are so many questions surrounding this trend and this report will be researching into the macro-trend, sustainability. This report aims to cover a wide range of areas surrounding this particular trend, particularly revolving around our plastic overload and waste crisis. Firstly exploring its definition, how it originated and since then, how it has evolved into the trend we know today. Then moving forward to look into what is driving the trend including: Social Media, Generation Z and Total Transparency. The impacts the trend has had will be discovered, from the implications it has had on several industries such as, Fashion, Food and Beauty as well as, changes to society and both consumer behaviour and expectations. Finally, presenting the possible future of sustainability as a trend, suggesting potential opportunities that could be seized and analysing the success and implications of the trend.

“In practical terms, sustainability refers to some condition that is to be maintained over a prolonged period. Surely, we do not mean to maintain the present levels of human suffering and environmental breakdown� (Ehrenfeld, 2014)

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METHODOLOGY Source

Books

Newspapers

Website

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Advantages • Able to access expert opinions and perspectives • Books can often put your topic into context • Allow findings on background research on your subject matter.

• They make finding financial information and statistics more accessible, upon finding the appropriate article. • Some newspapers are heavily fact-based and useful for gathering research in comparison to the likes of some articles and are always up-to-date with current affairs.

Disadvantages •

Challenging to find a current publication on your field of research.

Examples •

Routledge handbook of

• Notoriously known for their personal political stances. In turn, this often affects what media they publish or ammend, making some of their content biased. • Worth undertaking research on the background of newspapers before trusting their reliability, particularly if that newspaper has been known for involvement in media scandals prior.

Adidas TrendOne Trend Watching

• Quantity of information • Often find several available, free of charge contradicting points for public use. that make it hard • Useful to be able to to trust sources, filter your searches especially as the across the internet; author of the source is revealing up-to-date sometimes unknown. news and information on • Anyone having the current events ability to post • Controversial debates publications, it surrounding your subject. increases the • Lead to the findings likelihood of biased of crucial conference information and it proceedings and can be challenging Government publications. to pinpoint exactly relevant information due to the masses of resources available.

Adidas TrendOne Trend Watching


Source

Social media

Film/ podcast/ doc

General secondary research

Advantages • Frequency of updated information and you can access the data in real-time. • Large amounts of global data accessible meaning richer, quick research. • Possible to utilise social media tools such as, polls to your benefit in terms of exploring consumer psychology and behaviour.

• Documentaries and film has been a lot more accessible than it would have been for other trends. This can also prove an effective method of research for visual learners and present a vast amount of information from several different perspectives.

The main benefit from using secondary research is the vast resources available, from articles; journals; books; websites; and documentaries, the variety is endless and the majority of these sources are created by large, corporate organisations, ensuring they are reputable, credible sources. Furthermore, secondary research is vital for accessing multiple perspectives with a restricted timeline, and allows you to widen your knowledge with perspectives that you had not yet thought of yourself, emphasising that secondary research can be significantly thought provoking for research and allows you to support existing opinions. Moreover, secondary research is also significantly time and cost effective; requiring no reliability on responses coming back quickly as data is readily available and usually free to access most sources.

Disadvantages

Example

• Doubt over the credibility of the information and its source which can result in unrepresentative results and also, it does not often offer in-depth data.

Fcaebook Twitter

• Hard to find topics that are directly relevant to what you require as easily as other research resources. Also, it is more challenging to analyse as it is not physical print that you can reread.

Youtube Tedtalk Netflix

Despite this, there are also particular limitations that should be considered whilst conducting secondary research. For example, there is always some doubt over the reliability of sources as they can often be bias and misleading, depending on who created the source and its nature. Therefore, it is worth researching the background of the source and both its intent and audience before trusting its authenticity. This will help avoid using unreliable sources and affecting the accuracy of your work.

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THE TREND: SUSTAINABILITY

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THE DEFINITION THE ORIGIN THE EVOLUTION

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The term sustainability has been used everywhere for years, thrown at us as consumers within advertising; across social media; but what does it really mean and how did it become such a major macro trend? With our population growth increasing at an alarming rate and a predicted population of 11 billion by 2100, how will the planet survive? Greenhouse gases started to cause changes to our planet from as early as the 1800s, scientists suggest. (Carbon Brief, 2016) So it is not surprising that in the present day, the damages are starting to show. The trend began to originate accordingly to the damage the planet was withstanding. The idea of sustainable well-being refers to a suitable quality of life within the Earth’s capacity and adjusting to planetary limits accordingly. (Sitra, 2015) The trend has been

motivated by our global concern and worry over climate change and the detrimental impact that is unfolding right in front of us. However, it is regrettably debated that if we have known the definition of sustainability for so long, we should have made changes earlier to prevent our current crisis. Furthermore, there are definitions from the past that are still so relevant to today; suggesting that developing the world sustainably means meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland Commission, 1987) Whereas, as a trend it can be defined as discovering new methods to sustain our planet from

destruction. However, as a society, we clearly have not learnt from these definitions in order to adjust our living to the planet’s boundaries and make sustainable goals in order to suit the future generations also, which is essentially what is keeping the trend evolving; our lack of knowledge and understanding on how to create a truly sustainable planet. The more damage that occurs, the more coverage and interest that surrounds sustainability which has kept the trend growing, hence why the trend is currently reaching such massive potential.

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01.

DRIVERS

A macro-trend is not driven and influenced solely by itself, several other macro-trends and other factors are intertwined within its trend journey. Especially as sustainability is such a globally accepted trend, there has been several influences that have made it more widespread.

GENERATION Z The younger generation have so much power and have been an imperative factor to driving sustainability. Gen Z are envisioned as influential youths who now indulge with a conscience because they are in touch with their social responsibility to care where their food is from, the methods used to source it and whether it be sustainable or not. (Cescau, 2018). With constant articles and news headlines surrounding climate change, the younger generation are becoming increasingly concerned about the future of their planet and in turn, is making them want to make changes and educate themselves. Furthermore, it is this

generation; now considered ‘Generation Sensible’ (Cescau, 2018) that are making the main difference in driving this trend; demanding more from brands and showcasing their sustainable lifestyle in order to inspire others to follow on. Gen Z are such a large, active demographic that they have become an essential target consumer for the majority of brands; meaning brands are required to listen to their needs and demands, which are mostly sustainability based as their loyalty is focused more around values rather than cost and convenience (Turk, 2018). Furthermore, brands are noticing that Generation Z will happily avoid brands that do not

meet and share both their values and concerns; willing to spend more if it means the goods were ethically produced (Turk, 2018) However, this also works in favour of corporations as their priority is no longer reducing price for their consumers but becoming more ethical, essentially opening an opportunity for increased profitability. Therefore, emphasising the importance of Gen Z on driving sustainability forwards and for beneficial changes to follow as they are forcing brands to take action and won’t stop protesting for sustainability until they see actual change from their beloved brands.

“Millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) are actively demonstrating that they have the will, knowledge, and capacity, to promote lasting positive change for our environment more than all other generations before them.”

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02.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media tends to be a significant driver of most trends, it is crucial to businesses when focusing on spreading information and promoting movements. For example, social media has been used to influence and inform opinions positively, which can be seen across platforms such as, Facebook and Twitter where reliable petitions from GOV.uk are shared regularly. These have emphasised the success of sustainability as from personal research, this is the main topic; removing excess packaging from supermarkets being one of them. In order to reach the Government’s attention, the petitions usually require 10,000 signatures which returns a response from the Government and then 100,000 signatures ensures petitions will be considered for debate in Parliament. Therefore, showing how the use of social media is critical to driving sustainability forward and making permanent, ethical changes to benefit our future.

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Furthermore, it can be used as an influential tool by people with a large following such as, celebrities, bloggers and influencers. For example, encouraging the use of less plastic, and taking on a more ethical diet and also, educating their followers using their social media platforms, particularly YouTube. For instance, Grace Beverley (@gracefituk) is renown in the influencer industry for her positive, honest influence on her fanbase. Grace has adopted a plantbased diet and vegan lifestyle in the last year and uses her large following to educate and encourage positive sustainable options for society. Her YouTube channel is raw and authentic in all aspects which links to consumer’s demand for transparency; creating content to help viewers make smart

choices, an honest review of veganism and recipes to help make a vegan lifestyle effortless and more accessible for her following. Essentially, she utilises her social media platforms in order to encourage inputting sustainability into your daily lifestyle even in the smallest ways and helping society become aware of the impact they have on the planet, whether that be through their diet or sustainable lifestyle choices. Therefore, it is clear that social media has been crucial to the driving of sustainability and its future as a trend, as it has allowed increased accessibility to knowledge around the topic and influencers have used it to inspire their following to make positive changes; essentially growing the trend.

“Social media has enabled empowered consumers to instantly question and take brands to task when their actions cause concern or confusion.” (Mintel, 2018)


03.

TOTAL TRANSPARENCY A fellow macro-trend driving sustainability is Total Transparency (Trend One, 2018); consumers are failing to buy into brands declaring their ethical stance without proof like they may have done in the past. Consumers have come to the realisation that brands can say anything to create the illusion they are meeting their demands, even when they’re not. Brands have essentially become a ‘glass box’; consumers know that they can easily see inside and explore their operations and core values (Trendwatching, 2017) This trend directly links to sustainability as ethical consumers are ordering for truthful information on their products and services such

as, their ingredients, supply chains and confidently admitting the areas brands could improve on (Cescau, 2018). Transparency is aiding in driving this trend through motivating brands to take conscious efforts into creating a more ethical, sustainable reputation, starting from within their brand culture and core values. Brands are starting to acknowledge that to retain all of their existing consumer base, they need to be open to sustainable development and act on it soon; exposing their weaknesses and letting consumers be invasive. Consumers are strongly aware of the unsustainable impact they are having on the

world and want to discover true brands that allow them to be sustainable. Therefore, this will in turn, elongate the lifespan of the sustainability trend because brands have no choice but to embrace an ethical approach or fall behind in their competitive markets.

“Long gone are the days when big brands could hide behind clever marketing campaigns that made it seem like they stood for something important. Today’s younger generations are smarter than that and take pride in knowing which brands aren’t just talking the talk, but are walking the walk. Companies are being forced to change their approach when it comes to marketing to millennials and generation z consumers.” Forbes

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CONSUMER IMPACTS: BEHAVIOUR AND EXPECTATIONS

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“3 in 4 Millennials and Gen Z’s are willing to pay extra for sustainable product offerings� Nielsen For consumers, this trend has created a sense of accomplishment; becoming healthy not only for themselves but for the planet too. This has been reflected in their behaviour as self-care trends have begun to evolve into community care (Geraldine Wharry, 2018), an attitude that consumers have now started to expect from brands too.

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There is a clear shift in consumer behaviour that has been caused by this trend, especially in diet choices. With the increase of vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian diets rising each year, will we be seeing a total shift to plantbased diets soon? (See Appendix 1.) In 2018, there was an increase by 183% for Veganuary (where people eat vegan for the duration of

January) growing from 59,500 participants in 2017 to 168,500 in 2018 (Vegan Society, 2018) Therefore, it implies that this change in diet will continue to grow, year on year; keeping the trend in the media and in force. As more consumers gain knowledge surrounding sustainability and the environmental impacts of our diets, more people become open to changing their diet for


the better. Especially when it comes to the younger generation; the consumers who are mostly driving this trend, with studies from 2017 suggesting that 25% of millennials were either vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian and 44% of all consumers willing to attempt to cut meat out from their diets (Vegan Society, 2018) Therefore, consumer behaviour is essentially helping to lead the sustainability trend as the majority of consumers are taking up these dietary changes from an ethical stance. However, there is controversial debate over whether consumers are adopting vegan and vegetarian lifestyles for ethical reasons or for their own personal health and assumptions associating veganism with weight loss. Yet this is still progress in terms of working towards a sustainable world and still benefits the trend itself so it can be argued that as long as changes in consumer behaviour happens, it does not matter what motivation is behind it. With 5 trillion pieces of waste floating through our oceans, weighing over 250,000 tonnes, it is time

that everyone take a stand to make it stop. However, it can be argued that as human beings, we only care when it directly affects us and the food we eat when realistically, people should have somewhat of a concern from an ethical stance, considering it is destroying the planet we live on. Yet will enough consumers’ mindsets be changed in time to make true change? If the plastic floating in our oceans doesn’t kill marine life, it is often ingested and damages their internal organs which in turn, raises great concern over the safety of our seafood. (Adidas, Parley 2018) These harrowing facts have been sure to impact consumer behaviour, with more consumers demanding transparency from brands and ethical alternatives for plastic. Consumers are gaining more knowledge on new technologies so they are aware of the possibilities that brands can invest in. The social media coverage on plastic pollution is incredible, with internet petitions arising for supermarkets to ban non-recyclable plastics, or to stop using packaging for fruits and vegetables, it is unnecessary and harmful to both ourselves and the

planet. Consumers are becoming aware of this and changing their shopping habits; researching what products use recyclable or biodegradable packaging and trying to purchase ethically. Furthermore, their demand for transparency from brands is clearly being heard with brands accepting their own faults in being unsustainable and setting aims to make changes in the future which will be explored further on throughout the impacts of sustainability on industries.

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INDUSTRY IMPACTS Sustainability has been a massive catalyst for change amongst other industries too, not only fashion. Some brands working in certain industries have chosen to adapt in order to keep up with trends and competitors, whereas other industries have been more significantly affected and have had no choice but to adjust to the dynamic market.

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01.

FASHION In terms of the fashion industry, sustainability can impact where consumers shop and what brands they affiliate themselves with, especially as fast fashion is one of the most detrimental industries on our planet. Some fashion brands have truly excelled themselves, using the sustainability movement as motivation to drive new technologies; new ways of thinking; and a new transparent approach. In return, they are also fulfilling consumer needs by taking up transparency at the core of their brand and strengthening their relationship and loyalty between themselves and their consumers. Adidas are an exceptional example of a fashion brand that has truly added sustainability to its core values; teaming up with brand, Parley from 2016 for a series of collaborations

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and taking on board their ethical approach within their own brand. The Adidas x Parley collections focus on creating sustainable fashion by using plastic waste from the oceans. The Parley A.I.R Strategy is a prime exemplar of how the brands have worked together in order to create something both positive and constructive from our ocean waste crisis; “Plastic is a design failure, one that can only be solved by reinventing the material itself.� (Adidas, Parley, 2018) . Avoid plastic wherever possible, Intercept plastic waste and Redesign the material itself, are the three pillars of the Parley A.I.R Strategy to work against the fast-growing threat of marine plastic pollution. Moving forward, it can be argued that if we have presented ourselves with such a solution as redesigning plastic materials, and Adidas have proved how this can be translated into fast fashion, how come not many other brands have adopted this approach? Adidas have set a strong example against competitors in the fashion industry, one that can hopefully

inspire and encourage other big fashion labels to join the sustainability movement and keep the future of the trend thriving. High-end fashion has always been notoriously known for its damaging luxury, however even top fashion houses such as, Burberry have joined in on the no fur movement as of September 2018, helping lead the way to a more sustainable fashion industry. Burberry also intend to put a stop to their previous attitude towards waste; destroying products that they deemed to be unsaleable by burning them, massively contributing to our waste issue and creating an unsustainable system. However, there is still some concern over the ethicality of fur alternatives, as in fact, faux fur tends to be created using plastic petroleumbased materials which then in turn, still damages our oceans and environment. (Metro News, 2018) But it still sets a more ethical example than the use of fur and cruelty on innocent animals.


Arguably, there may be consumers that do not see the ethical side of high-fashion, however the future of this trend could possibly see a change in consumer mindset because although they are buying into the understandable appeal of luxury, what true cost does it have for the planet?

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02. FOOD

Sustainability massively affects the food industry, particularly because it plays a major part in our global waste crisis; essentially making them one of the most responsible industries for our current position. Firstly, supermarkets have had to adapt to the changes in consumer behaviour; bringing out more meat alternatives across stores especially as the meat-free market continues to grow; an estimation of £658m by 2021 (Mintel, 2017) New brands continue to arise, offering consumers a fresh way to look at their diets, with alternatives becoming tastier and more nutrition-focused such as the likes of, Garden Gourmet, Quorn, and even major supermarket brands have created their own branded vegetarian and vegan food lines to make adopting a sustainable diet more accessible and affordable for everyone.

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Furthermore, this also allows brands to set an example, introducing and educating new consumers whilst simultaneously appealing to their existing vegan consumer by bringing in a larger vegan product portfolio. F u r t h e r m o r e , sustainability has not only affected food industries in terms of diet but also through society’s changing attitudes and lifestyle choices. Our planet is in the state of a plastic overload and there is massive debate over what it will truly take to realise how much damage we are doing and if we can make a significant change before it’s too late? “UK consumers go through roughly 13 billion plastic bottles a year, with more than three billion being incinerated or sent to landfill and subsequently polluting our land and seas.” (Petter, 2018) However, big brands are truly attempting to set an honourable example for consumers to follow. Tesco have recently introduced a new trial under their sustainability scheme, offering a

monetary incentive to consumers whom return plastic bottles to their in-store recycling machines. The supermarket has also stated that they plan to ban all nonrecyclable plastics by 2019 (Petter, 2018) which will hopefully lead to other major supermarkets also adopting a similar approach in order to keep up with their competitor. However, there is still argument over the true ethicality of consumers in terms of needing monetary incentives in order to recycle more. However, if that is what it takes, it is worth using money as motivation if it makes a permanent, longlasting difference. Moreover, it is not only Tesco that are making inspirational changes, in April, Morrisons vowed that they would be making all their own packaging recyclable by 2025 and Lidl insisted on removing unnecessary black plastic from their fruits and vegetables which would in turn, save a massive 50 tonnes of waste, every year (Petter, 2018). Similarly, to that


of brands, Costa and Starbucks; inputting sustainability into their brand values through monetary incentives, in order to maintain and reduce over-consumption and waste. (Costa, 2018) Ideally these sorts of incentives will help reduce our plastic waste and create a unified sustainable mindset across major brands as well as, their consumers. This emphasises how brands are responding to the sustainability trend and recognising its great potential for their reputation also; motivating them to continue promoting sustainability.

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03.

BEAUTY

A similar approach to supermarkets can be seen within the beauty industry. New, stimulating beauty brands are emerging with fresh brand values that revolve around an ethical stance; cruelty-free, vegan and vegetarian ingredients being at the heart of their products. This is then affecting supermarkets and other beauty product stockists such as, Boots, Superdrug and Sainsbury’s, reevaluating their product portfolios in order to respond

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to changes in consumer purchasing behaviour. Furthermore, beauty packaging is a massive contributor to the excessive amount of plastic filling up landfills year upon year. (Allure, 2017) Some brands are responding to this by adapting existing products in order to satisfy demand. For example, brands have transformed current single-use products into refillables in order to, reduce waste and new bottles and packaging being produced after each use; similarly to the

concept of single-use plastics. This can be see being done in terms of fragrances, brand Thierry Mugler have made refillable bottles, saving production and excessive waste being thrown away. Moreover, makeup brand Kjaer Weis has created an innovative refillable system for their products; each product has a durable metal case which can be refilled each time it has been finished. This highlights another solution that other makeup brands could similarly adopt into their current products. Therefore, emphasising that it is manageable to adapt existing products and services, or create a brand extension as a response to this trend, consumers are not asking brands to totally reform their brand, but to give them accessibility to a more sustainable way of life.


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THE FUTURE THE CONCLUSION

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“In every corner of the planet, companies that hire employees, sell products, or provide services, as well as leaders in every capacity, are feeling the pressure from young people to make the world a more sustainable place. It is now evident that Millennials and Gen Z are creating positive environmental change from the bottom up, and there are no signs of it slowing down. “ (Clean Choice Energy, 2017)

There is a bright, vast future ahead for this trend as it can be argued that sustainability cannot become completely irrelevant until we have solved the climate change crisis, due to its global relevance. On the other hand, undoubtedly it has the potential to become less prominent across certain industries, although with so many brands adopting a sustainable approach within their brand, it is unlikely that they will revert to previous work ethics as this would cause great scrutiny from consumers. To summarise, the future of the trend will continue to be motivated by our global plastic overload, as it is clear to both corporate structures as well as, consumers that we need to accept our social responsibility in both stopping the continuous waste cycle and combating

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existing waste. Furthermore, it would be interesting to further research the limitations of recyclable plastics and how to source viable alternatives to the materials we are already substituting plastics with as it is clear that they are often not as effective of a solution as we considered. (Williamson, 2018) Another area of research to continue forward and keep the trend thriving would be delving into the true ethicality of consumers as there is controversy over their appearance vs. reality; appearing to be a sustainable consumer yet when really exploring their consumer habits, they are not as sustainable as they seem. Moreover, it can be debated whether consumers are ethical for their own personal goals such as, the assumed relation between vegan and vegetarian diets

with weight loss, or whether they are genuinely conscious consumers. However, it still benefits towards building a sustainable world. Therefore, this could be a strong area for future research in the stage one report. To conclude, with brands adopting current sustainable goals up to 2025; Morrisons goal for banning all single-use plastics, sustainability will still gain widespread coverage. This trend will also grow and evolve alongside society and its own growth of ethical consumers as well as remaining in the political and industry atmosphere until we globally find solutions to combat climate change. Therefore, emphasising that this trend will indefinitely have a long and influential timeline ahead to pave a new, sustainable and innovative future.


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APPENDIX

APPENDIX 1.

Political Trump refuses to accept or believe the horrifying damage of climate change which encourages and allows some citizens to continue what they’re doing and excuse their detrimental behaviour. Rather than helping people understand the small beneficial changes they can make, quite simply without it affecting their everyday lives Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) United Nations Agreement Paris Agreement 2015 - Creating a united front to motivate consumers to be on board with sustainable change “The Paris Agreement was a watershed for humanity, and puts more emphasis on process and progress, rather than defining and meeting specific targets.” (Barnatt, 2018) Environmental Materials and natural resources continue to become more scarce; as the effects of climate change continue to unravel, increasing pressure on industries to make change Plastic pollution continues to spiral out of control; harming marine life and ourselves Social Diet / Lifestyle Major increase in vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian diets; influential celebrities being one of the drivers for this, setting new dietary trends Whether it be driven for personal health reasons or ethical/environmental factors, it still helps towards creating a sustainable world Technological Automation In the UK, 60% of farmlands are managed by a form of machine aid such as, sensors, cameras, virtual field maps, analytics and GPS guided tractors (Fture centre thing) Harper Adams University in the UK, trialled out what they called a ‘hands free hectare’ where every single stage of production from beginning to end was completed by some sort of machinery; robot or droid. (Future centre) Therefore, allowing new innovation to create a sustainable world Legal Legislation Banning of microplastics in manufacturing in January 2018, followed by the banning of all sales in April 2018 (Add ref) Labelling laws could change; evolving from the transparency demand from consumers

Economic Sustainability impacts on employment could affect the economy’s stability We could see a fluctuation in retail prices due to the higher cost of investment in sustainable innovations Cost of materials will increase due to, scarcity

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ETHICS CLAUSE: This submission is the result of my own work. All help and advice other than that received from tutors has been acknowledged and secondary resources of information have been properly attributed. Should this statement prove to be untrue I recognise the right and duty of the board of examiners to recommend what action should be taken in line with the University’s regulations on assessment contained in its handbook. Signed............................................................... Print Name....................................................... Date...........................................

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Future Thinking Report: Sustainability (NTU)  

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