It’s now clear that environmental issues have a growing influence on our lifestyles and consumer behaviour. Climate commitments are increasing in visibility every day: in the street or at home, the climate emergency is no longer seen as a public, anonymous affair but something that is integral to our most personal habits and actions. So how does this awareness manifest itself in our everyday lives?
To tackle this question, we considered the concept of the climatarian. The word was chosen by the New York Times in 2015 as one of its “food words” of the year, defining a very specific type of diet. A climatarian is someone who regulates their diet, seeking to lower their ecological impact with the ultimate goal of reducing climate change. Their diet is not restrictive, they eat everything, but have changed their habits, preferring pork and chicken over beef, sustainable fishing, local, seasonal products, avoiding frozen food and not wasting food.
Although diet is the first thing that changes, a whole set of buying, consuming and organisation practices are also transformed. Although at the time, the term seemed to be a trend in the same way as vegetarians, flexitarians and reducetarians, these habits now seem to make increasing sense as our practices and mindsets develop.Is changing the world through small, everyday habits simply common sense?
To identify how the quest to reduce our carbon footprint to zero has changed our habits and the design of the products around us, let’s look at the journey of the perfect climatarian: from the moment they go shopping, return home and organise the kitchen or bathroom, plus what they eat and consume on the go. Indoors and outdoors, personal commitment is also a question of visibility: from the privacy of our homes to displaying our attributes as good members of society in the wider world, it’s as much about setting an example and converting the people around us, as it is about reassuring ourselves of our good conduct.
Ideally, doing your shopping should mean going to your allotment and picking what you need, according to the seasons. In reality, supermarkets are slightly more practical.However, to reduce your carbon footprint while shopping the first thing you can do is to use a reusable bag, not a plastic one. In Canada, the grocery storeEast West Market has even invented its own “plastic-shaming” technique: plastic bags with embarrassing messages.
Although reusable bags are not new, trends vary: from the classic tote bag (with advertising or not) to the net bag, taking the issue of visibility and transparency even further.
On the shelves, ecological commitments also have an impact on how the products are stacked: in bulk, organic and local products, slates, crates, handwritten prices, etc., the alternative grocery look is now visible in supermarkets.
When choosing the product, the eye is drawn to the packaging, which must be recyclable, minimal and transparent, etc. Small or large scale, for food, beauty and household goods, packaging has been reviewed, reinvented and redesigned for less impact and wastage.
Once you return home, it’s time to organise your pantry. Storage takes on a major role: good bye to packaging, aluminium foil and cling film, hello to bulk storage in glass jars, functional and aesthetic aspects blending together as they are perfectly arranged on shelves or in drawers. Halfway between a survivalist pantry and a Marie Kondo interior, the art of minimal, logo-free storage is leaving some brands behind but also forming a growing community on social media.
“Zero waste” hygiene
Things are changing in the bathroom too: solid soap is replacing shampoos and liquid shower gels, disposable razors and tubes of toothpaste are out, and even when it comes to containers, people are choosing other materials such as cork, wood and even soap with the “soapack”.
With the rise in popularity of snacking and eating on the go, consuming responsibly when not at home is also an issue: no more cardboard packaging or plastic cups, portable food and drink has been reinvented with new designs.
Changing your diet, reorganising your habits and your house is no longer something done by a fringe minority. Today, a climate commitment starts with small actions and every day objects. Design also plays a role in transforming our habits, giving us objects that are both beautiful to look at and ethically acceptable.