To kick off a whole new decade, the Greenredeem team are looking back at the green success stories of the last ten years. We’re looking around at the big eco-developments happening right now, and looking ahead towards the next generation of sustainable change.
2010s: Flexitarianism green eating went mainstream
If the 2000s were all about cutting our food miles and rediscovering the delights of traditional, local produce, then the 2010s were about joining the dots between our food choices and their effects on global ecosystems.
When announcing “I’m cutting back on meat” was greeted with the same level of approval as “I’m cutting down on cigarettes”, we knew so-called flexitarianism had gone mainstream. Tweaking your diet to avoid water-wasteful red meat or unsustainably sourced seafood is no longer unusual.
2010s: Food waste got busted
The awareness that millions of tonnes of food was going to waste each year wasn’t new in the 2010s. What was new was the willingness for us to do something about it.
Food waste recycling collections have converted hundreds of thousands of tonnes of our kitchen food scraps into lovely, crumbly compost.
Zero waste shops have sprung up on High Streets across the UK, allowing us to buy food in exactly the amounts we need from dry goods dispensers and liquid refill stations.
Food-sharing apps help connect those of us with edible leftovers with those of us that can use them up. OLIO runs along similar lines to Freecycle, with folks posting and replying to free ads, whereas Too Good To Go lets us bag heavily discounted food from restaurants and cafés.
2020s: A new era of cleaner, green fish farming?
What do you get if you cross a polluting fish farm with a disease-prone hydroponic vegetable farm? No joke, just a total game changer for sustainable food production.
Aquaponic farms take a lesson from the natural ecosystem. The nutrient-rich water from raising fish irrigates and feeds plants housed in vertical farms. In turn, the plants and naturally occurring bacteria clean and purify the water, ready to pipe back into the fish tank.
Healthy fish, healthy plants, practically zero pollution or water wastage.
Abandoned mines, the basements beneath large buildings and disused transport tunnels could be reused as underground aquaponic farms, growing crops and raising fish beneath our cities while absorbing polluting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
2020s: Will meat-free products go large?
The precise date that this country realised fake meat was for real? Thursday 3rd January 2019, when Greggs launched a vegan version of their famous sausage roll. The staggering, social-media-breaking success of that move had rivals scrambling to develop their own meat-free bestsellers.
As we move into the 2020s, we confidently expect plant-based food innovations such as the Impossible Burger and Beyond Beef to take an ever larger piece of the pie, while continuing to reduce methane emissions, prevent the destruction of rainforest for grazing and lower the water footprint of our food.
2030s: Is the future of green eating, very green?
Some futurologists can see our supermarket shelves groaning with lab-grown meats. Others predict that we’ll be chomping down mealworm meatballs before too many years are up.
We’re betting on green. Specifically, algae as the food to feed our future world. Loaded with good fats, proteins and carbs, microalgae can nourish both humans and animals. What’s more, these little green guys will grow in abundance in both freshwater and seawater, easing the pressure on agricultural land.
Spirulina – a type of algae – is already a common enough superfood to find a place on the shelves of Aldi and Lidl, and interest in the wider world of sea greens is blooming.
It’s entirely possible for algae to become the world’s biggest crop over the next twenty years, but how will we be eating it? We look forward to trying Greggs’ first algae sausage roll.