As we turn over the new leaf that is a new year, we have the opportunity to dream big of what's to come in green design and what sustainable steps our world will take to make it a better place for our families. We asked some of our favorite green designers and bloggers to share their predictions for 2011. We love that they are all decidedly hopeful, empowering consumers and seeing more healthy choices available for our families. Read on to see what Healthy Child, Healthy World's Danielle Friedland, Natalie Zee Drieu of Craft, Small for Bigs' Mari Richards and more see for the future of 2011.
In 2011 I predict that crafty parenting and a DIY ethos in childrearing will gain huge momentum. There has been a burgeoning movement afoot in the green parenting community for years to make your own toys, grow your own food, make your own cleaning supplies, and fashion your own clothes for years now, but economic downturn and a growing distaste for rampant consumerism has added fuel to the fire of resourceful creativity in today’s parents. I welcome this trend with eager arms, as I believe it is critical to engage children in craft and the hands-on process of “making things” with their parents at an early age. Too often, the overly convenient technology of our contemporary culture robs our kids of the opportunity to get their hands dirty and create.
Simultaneously, of course (as there is always a counter-trend to every growing trend), we will see more and more technological “shortcuts” marketed towards parents in the form of smartphone apps and household gizmos. Some will be worth the money, the distraction and the carbon footprint, but most will not be – so be wary and cautious in your adoption of new technology.
All in all, I am optimistic about 2011. I believe more and more parents will get turned on to the importance of simple, unprocessed food and toxin-free toys for their children, and this consumer demand will finally lead to major change in manufacturing processes. Fingers crossed!
Danielle Friedland – Healthy Child, Healthy World
My green design prediction for the new year is that consumer demand will continue to drive green design – one specific shift I foresee is that phthalates will become the BPA of 2011. They are as problematic as BPA and hopefully 2011 will be the year that the public becomes more aware of them and their danger – stops buying products made with them, which will force manufacturers to phase them out in order to acquiesce to consumer demand. Power to the people!
Natalie Zee Drieu – CRAFTZINE
In 2011 we are going to see a greater movement for green and handmade toys. With all the toy recalls of recent past, I think parents are looking for non-toxic toys that are eco-friendly, but fun for the kids too! My 2 year-old daughter plays with her Green Toys tea set every day. I love that it’s made from recycled milk containers and is BPA free which makes me rest easy when she’s drinking water from her tea cup.
I’ve also been seeing a movement among my mom friends who are making their own toys. Even the ones who aren’t particularly “crafty” are learning how to knit or sew in order to do so. This handmade movement shows our children the value in making something with your hands â€“ something that’s important in our digital age where iPods and iPads are now taking a chunk of our kids’ time. I’ve seen a growth in unique handmade toys at the craft fairs I visit often. From felt play food to kooky stuffed animals, these handmade toys are filled with organic cotton stuffing safe for our precious little ones.
Micaela Preston – Mindful Momma
The voice of the consumer will get louder in 2011. We’ve been voting with our dollars for some time now but expect more and more people to be shouting their green and healthy values and desires from the highest mountaintop (or at least from the pillars of Twitter & Facebook!) We’ll be demanding greener products. We’ll be advocating for better school lunches. We’ll be rallying against unsafe chemicals. All in record numbers and louder than ever before! Take heed members of Congress, government leaders and corporate CEOs: We are consumers, hear us roar!
Nick and Kimber Christensen – Little Sapling Toys
Our green prediction for 2011 is more of a hope that an environmentally responsible lifestyle will shift from consuming more green products to using what we already have.
Mari Richards – Small for Big
In the world of kids design, my prediction (and fondest wish) is that weâ€™ll see the eco art supplies market explode! There have been some new contenders in the past year with lots of great exposure. It can only mean eco-friendly, less toxic art supplies will be more plentiful and more varied
Jennifer Chait – Inhabitots & Growing a Green Family
In 2011, I think consumers will continue to get smarter about green living, and use their wallets to make their point. For example, organic food purchases, especially purchases by parents, continued to rise in 2010. Individuals are more inclined to eat green when dining out. Green toys and other products cost less than ever before because consumers demand it. Best of all, consumers don’t blindly trust bunk green labels or shady “green” companies anymore. All the education and advice that eco-advocates are offering parents is paying off, because we’re seeing more parents than ever who are really thinking about toxins, organics, eoc-labels and other consumer issues.
I also think that 2011 is going to be the year we see a shift in parenting values. Values that say it’s okay for parents to ease up a bit and allow kids to be kids. Yes, parents are becoming smarter about BPA, organics and other green issues, but parents are also terrified to let their kids out of their sight and aren’t stressing the importance of time spent in nature. Helicopter parenting and constant indoor living is having a negative effect on our kids. Kids today can spout off about current cell phones, movies, television shows and apps, but they know almost nothing about the real world right outside their door. Running around outside, playing in the dirt, building forts or simply riding a bike alone – that’s all been lost to the current generation.
In 2010, some amazing outdoor childhood advocates continued to raise their voices, such as Free Range Kids and Be Out There, but we can all do so much more in 2011. Kids who experience nature grow up to respect the environment, which makes perfect sense. It’s high time we get kids invested in this planet. If you’re a green parent or an environmental advocate, one of the best actions you can take on for 2011 is to encourage everyone to move childhood off the couch and back outside.