Trend watch: All things green

Compostable Bambu vaneerware plates

The word “green” has evolved from a trend or movement to more of a lifestyle choice as it has become fully mainstream. A few years ago, Hollywood jumped on the bandwagon and many of their awards events are now touted as “carbon neutral,” meaning they probably offset these opulent events with carbon emission credits. Thanks to San Francisco’s vibrant Department of Environment and savvy consumers, the City is a leader and not a fair-weathered fan jumping on a bandwagon. Nonetheless, once Hollywood adopts a cause, you know that your cause has “arrived.” Below are a few of the trends we have happily witnessed.

Shades of Green – The New Beige
Just as in the world of fashion, trends take place in home furnishings and housewares. Generally, the home furnishings market follows the trends and colors of fashion by one season, if not concurrently. Various elements besides fashion inspire designers to create home products in popular hues, with pop culture and films being two strong influences. The “new green” is not evergreen, but instead a brighter hue. Note how many green Prius cars you see on the road now. Housewares manufacturers have taken notice, and you will find many home products in these new shades of green.

Au Naturale
In addition to the green movement influencing color choices, it has also spawned the trend toward products made from natural and renewable resources such as bamboo, coir, cotton, and jute, in everything from fabrics to handbags to furniture and doormats. While cotton has always been a versatile fabric with many applications, jute, coir and particularly bamboo have emerged as alternatives because they are plentiful, sustainable resources and relatively inexpensive. Many products made of bamboo will also compost, making them an even more attractive alternative to other unsustainable resources. Pantone, the leading expert on colors, has even identified bamboo as a fall fashion-trend color.

Recycle, Rethink, Reuse
Because the earth only has so much space, and necessity being the mother of invention, this trend has emerged as a way to recycle the plastic and other materials that we use and unfortunately dispose of in our everyday life. More and more consumer products made of materials with a “former life” have streamed into the marketplace. Recycled paper and plastic products are at the forefront of this trend and this can only help our poor planet. Green Toys is a perfect example in this category: all BPA-free toys are made from 100 percent recycled milk jugs.

Clean Green
Although earth-friendly cleaning products – including laundry soaps, all-purpose cleaners and dishwashing liquids – have been an upward-trending niche market segment, this category has skyrocketed in recent years to rival sales of more traditional caustic products. Consumers realize that using caustic chemicals to have a clean home is not necessary. Even a nasty chore, such as cleaning the toilet, can be less daunting when using a pleasant-smelling solution such as Mrs. Meyer’s brand, available in pleasing scents such as lemon verbena or geranium.

Save Energy and Resources
With a finite amount of natural resources on this earth (that we abuse to the point that we take them for granted), the need to limit our use in all areas is quite apparent: water conservation, energy use and waste disposal. Reducing our carbon footprint can only be achieved in combination with lowering energy usage and rebanking through carbon offsets. Simple measures such as installing aerators on faucets, replacing all incandescent bulbs with CFLs, taking public transportation, eating only local and unprocessed foods, and hanging laundry on a clothesline or drying rack, are commonplace.

Julia Strzesieski is the marketing coordinator at Cole Hardware and can be reached at