As we search for ways to change our personal actions as well as those of our businesses and governments to make the human experience more sustainable it can be helpful to know what some of the best ways are to move forward with eco-friendly initiatives. According to some sources, 2012 will have consumers and business people continuing to focus on recycling, reducing waste and turning off our lights and other electrical appliances. But among these continued actions the following six issues are likely to dominate public, commercial and political thinking throughout 2012.
1. Green will begin in the home. Homemakers and parents are paying increasing attention to issues such as food toxins, pesticides, hormones, genetically altered seeds and so forth. People will continue to be concerned about the health of their homes, which they recognize directly impacts the health of their families. The demand for organic food and natural cleaners will increase in 2012, and this trend will continue over the next decade.
2. Companies and municipalities will continue to set goals for energy efficiency. Becoming carbon neutral and having zero waste will become major goals for companies (small and large) and governments around the United States. Following in the footsteps of Kohls and other large retailers, many stores and cities will seek to be carbon neutral by reducing their energy usage as well as investing in carbon offset credits. Similar to the ambitious goals of Oakland, California to be zero waste by 2020, other cities and businesses will increasingly work to reduce, reuse and recycle.
3. Politicians will recognize that investing in renewable resources is a necessity. As we move deeper into the new millennium people will start to demand more renewable energy resources. Politicians and governments will start to recognize that there is an immediate need to develop energy technologies instead of just talking about it. According to some sources, politicians will start to recognize that the issue of sustainable energy will dominate discussions of the need to create jobs; the two concepts must learn to coexist, with new job creation happening in the alternative energy area.
4. Efficiency will become more affordable. In the early years of energy efficiency one had to pay a premium to be energy efficient, which didn’t make sense for most homes and small businesses. In 2012 this will continue to change as energy efficient technologies become more affordable. These technologies will include small items such as compact florescent bulbs (CFLs) and LED lighting, but also spreads to large things like solar heating arrays and geothermal energy systems. People will also become more willing to make some changes in their energy use, such as using electric company programs that allow energy usage to be adjusted based on the demand versus cost of energy at certain times of the day.
5. Computer users will float on the cloud. Cloud computing allows a computer user to share software across what techies call “the cloud”. The cloud is a term used to describe distributed computing, where expensive, memory intensive software programs can be housed on one computer but accessed and used by other people across the city, state, country or globe. Cloud computing is a great financial saver, allowing companies, governments and universities to save money on software purchase, installation and maintenance, while still giving users access to everything that they need. Cloud computing technology will also be increasingly used by people and organizations to back-up their information. All of these efforts will result in less manufacturing of physical storage devices such as CDROMs, DVDs, flash drives and external hard drives.
6. Transportation will see the limelight. Some cities, including New York, have already made huge strides in eco-consciousness by using public transportation extensively. 2012 will see more cities planning for public transportation including direct express trains, energy efficient bus lines, development of car pool and bicycle lanes, and simply people making the choice to ride share, limit or combine automotive trips and so on. Of course, electric and alternative energy vehicles will continue to receive a lot of attention and increased adoption.