Although Kermit the Frog once sang, “It’s not easy being green,” over the past decade, it sure has been cool to live green.

Ever since An Inconvenient Truth debuted in 2006, there seems to be one eco-friendly product or innovation that takes the U.S. by storm each year and enters the mainstream. In many cases, it’s a product that has been around for years that becomes popular due to legislation, lower prices or a scientific health study.

Even without a crystal ball, we can look at some of the green trends that appear to be on the rise heading into 2018.

What Makes a Green Trend?

In order to identify which green trend is about to take off, it’s helpful to look back at how previous green trends came to play. Here are the biggest green trends since 2007 and the trigger that started each:

Year Green Trend Cause(s) Impact
2007 Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL) Legislation, price Highest U.S. CFL sales of all-time
2008 Proper disposal of medications Scientific study DEA starts national drug collection events
2009 Television recycling Legislation Consumers stop buying CRT screens and recycle old ones after digital switch
2010 Metal water bottles/ Bisphenol A (BPA) Scientific study Drop in reusable plastic water bottle sales due to BPA concerns
2011 Online shopping/
Cyber Monday
Price Cyber Monday catches Black Friday for consumer interest in holiday shopping
2012 Hybrid/electric cars Price High gas prices, new models lead to 73 percent increase in hybrid sales over the previous year
2013 Fracking Legislation, social media New tech for acquiring natural gas leads to countless protests over environmental impact
2014 Farm-to-table food General trend Americans demand (and pay for) locally sourced foods
2015 Graywater Legislation, natural disaster California droughts make graywater a hot topic to water plants and grow crops
2016 Dakota Access Pipeline Legislation, social media Native American tribe protest goes viral on social media
2017 Flexitarianism Scientific study Documentaries like What the Health lead Americans to consider more plant-based diets

There’s no real pattern to discern from the past 11 years, other than the fact that these green trends were fueled by new laws, health studies, social media or a reduction in price. All of these circumstances are difficult to predict.

Candidates for 2018’s Greenest Trend

Before we crown a winner, here are a few contenders for the biggest green fad of 2018:

  • Companies embrace telecommuting: Yes, working from home already feels big, but only 3 percent of the U.S. workforce got to work from home in 2015. The environmental benefits are obvious, from reducing car emissions to limiting office waste. But companies are finally starting to see the cost savings in telecommuting, and as the unemployment rate falls, working remotely will be a top way to recruit new talent in industries like technology and health care. Expect to see fewer employees around the office next year, and for a positive reason.
Telecommuting will only rise in popularity in 2018. Photo: Adobe Stock
We’ll spend more time reading labels in the store in 2018. Photo: Adobe Stock
Expect more roofs with solar panels this coming year. Photo: Adobe Stock

And the Winner Is . . .

Emphasis on food product labeling

This trend has everything consumers care about when it comes to green trends: government involvement, health concerns and even the price impact as health care cost increases necessitate better nutrition. Plus, in two of the past four years, the green trend was related to diet.

What do you think the big green trend will be this year? Let us know in the comments below.

By Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.