Category Archives: Environmental

Mimica Touch Freshness Indicator


The average UK household loses an estimated £470 a year because of avoidable food waste, and 34% of this household waste is due to the food going past it’s ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date, when in reality the discarded food is still edible.

If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, after China and the US.  In the UK, 60% of all wasted food is perfectly edible.  The reason for this is cautious expiry dates which are kept short by the food industry to be on the safe side.

With this in mind, the Mimica Touch is being developed.  Spotted at 100% Design this year, this freshness indicator degrades at the same rate as the food it carries, meaning generic expiry date labels can be replaced with packet-specific labels, thereby helping to prevent the premature rejection of food and drink.

Mimica Touch is a patented tactile label that tells you exactly when food spoils, accurate to a few hours.  The label is activated as soon as it is attached to the packaging and contains a gel that is calibrated to spoil at the exact same rate as the target food.  The gel is made from waste materials from the food industry, meaning that it is actually experiencing decay, adjusting to conditions along the way and is accurate to one hour.





Love food hate waste


Approximately 7.3 million tons of food was wasted in the UK in 2015, which equates to £13 billion in monetary terms.

This isn’t new, we’ve been throwing away food for years, but most consumers have been unaware of the amount of food that they have wasted.

Until now ….. in July 2016 an official House of Commons food waste enquiry was launched and this has estimated that the average UK household lost £470 a year because of avoidable food waste.

The household is where the highest percentage of food waste takes place. Households in economically developed countries are responsible for about 38% to 47% of their country’s food waste. According to research from WRAP, a UK-based Waste & Resources Action Program there are 10 main reasons for food waste at home.



As a result, the big food producers like Heinz and Bird’s Eye have reacted by developing packaging that allows food to be kept fresh for longer.

And the major supermarket retailers are all updating their shelf-life guidelines and storage information, as well as relaxing their quality standards so that ‘wonky vegetables’ are allowed in their stores,

The message out there is not only is this food waste causing huge environment problems with the account of landfill its using, it’s also hitting consumers where it hurts; in the pocket.

And this in turn is creating a culture change in how we respond to food waste which has impacted on our grocery shopping habits.  The 2017 Waitrose Food and Drink Report says that consumers now treat supermarkets like walk-in fridges with two-thirds of Britons nipping to a supermarket more than once a day, and one in 10 people decide what to buy for an evening meal just before they eat it – often stopping to shop for it on the way home from work.

Longer opening hours and more convenience stores combined with a drive among shoppers to waste less and stop themselves “over-buying” has led to a new trend that Waitrose is calling “as and when shopping”.

Waitrose said the changes in the way we shop and eat are bringing some unexpected changes – like the trolley downsizing – just a few years ago, an average Waitrose would open with around 200 big trolleys and 150 shallow ‘daily shopper’ trolleys lined up outside. These days the tables have turned, with 250 shallow ‘daily shoppers’ and just 70 big trolleys needed.”


What will the UK’s homes look like in 5, 10 and 20 years’ time?


With the government pledging to build 300,000 new homes a year AXA Insurance has asked the public what they think homes will look like in 5, 10 and 20 years’ time.

Key Findings

  • Homes are becoming increasingly multi-purpose, with a quarter of people now viewing them as places of work as well as leisure;
  • Technology will ramp up in 5 years’ time, with 26 per cent believing all homes will include smart technology;
  • Sustainability is the name of the game in 10 years’ time, as 20 per cent expect houses to have access to driver-less vehicles and be made of sustainable materials

Homes of Today – A mishmash of work and leisure

Twenty years ago most people thought of their homes as a place they go at the end of the day to unwind and catch up with their families, however today a quarter of people use them as places of work as well as leisure. Thirty-six per cent of people feel that there are more people working from home today compared to ten years ago, while 64 per cent think that even more people will be working from home in the future.

However, even though there are now more people working from home than ever before, only a few of us have dedicated spaces to do this work in. Only a third (29 per cent) of people work in a dedicated office at home, while another third (32 per cent) work in their living rooms and 15 per cent in their bedrooms. Most people work on their laptops (69 per cent), while less than half have a dedicated desk, office chair or monitor!

Homes in 5 years’ time – Technology becomes more widespread

We often forget how quickly technology can become commonplace, however considering the fact that the iPhone came out less than 11 years ago, it’s not surprising that over a quarter (26 per cent) of respondents believe the UK’s homes will include technology such as Hive and Alexa in the next five years.

What’s more, 27 per cent believe there will be smart screens (e.g. TV screens you can use to call people etc.) throughout their homes in the next 10 years, while 25 per cent think people will have the ability to charge electric cars at home instead of having to go to charging points.

Homes in 10 years’ time – The Sustainability Era

Conversations surrounding sustainability are becoming increasingly prevalent as the world envisions the type of environment they want to live in in the future. Concerns over sustainability appear in respondents’ hopes for homes in 10 years’ time, with almost 20 per cent thinking they will be made mostly of sustainable materials (e.g. solar panels, flood resistant technology etc.) and will also be better equipped to withstand environmental factors such as storms, rain and wind.

Meanwhile, one in five believe homes will have access to driverless cars in the next 10 years – just 5 years after having the ability to charge electric cars at home. There is a good reason why sustainability is so important in the future: a quarter of people (24 per cent) think the UK’s electricity network as it currently stands would struggle to keep up with demand in 10 years’ time.

Homes in 20 years’ time and beyond

Along with determining what homes will look like in 5, 10 and 20 years’ time, there were some general observations from respondents regarding on-going trends that we are seeing today and expect to carry on in the future. At the moment, only 20 per cent of people think homes have the ability to change rooms depending on their purpose (work, leisure, relaxing etc.), however 43 per cent think they will have this ability within the next 20 years.

Throughout the decades AXA has seen a number of changes in the way people live their lives and the homes they reside in. Today more than ever, people are starting to use their homes for multiple purposes and are relying more heavily on new technology, and this is set to continue. In the next five, ten and twenty years we expect homes to change once again, but into what is a conversation we all need to have.” Gareth Howell, Managing Director, AXA Insurance

Other predictions include:

  • Nineteen per cent of people think UK homes already have more people living in them; this increases to 38 per cent within 20 years’ time.
  • Twenty-three per cent of people think UK homes already house multi-generational families; this increases to 35 per cent within 20 years’ time.
  • Twenty-five per cent of people think UK homes are already smaller in size in general; this increases to 31 per cent within 20 years’ time. A quarter of people also think homes will never become larger in size again.


Source:  AXA insurance


Wellness and the Home

Over the last few years, Wellness has become a word many have heard all too much. It is something we see on social media, on the news, and in magazines, and is now a word hard to escape from.

With various industries across the spectrum capitalising on it, a look into what Wellness really is, and what it can do for us, is long overdue. Holiday companies are selling out of mindfulness and yoga retreats, health-food accounts on Instagram are monopolising the web, and spa treatments are more popular than ever.

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The Latest Outdoor Living Trends from Glee 2017

Glee 2017

Trend-Monitor visited the Retail Lab @ Glee this month to find out about the latest outdoor living trends.

Glee is the UK’s garden and outdoor living trade show, showcasing brands, new products and garden retail insights.

Based at the Birmingham NEC and spread across 8 different show sectors; landscaping and garden decoration, garden care, outdoor entertaining, plants, pet products, home, gift and clothing, retailer experiences and services, food and catering, the exhibition attracts over 550 exhibitors and over 7,000 visitors and buyers.

The focal point of the 2017 show was the Retail Lab @ Glee, built in collaboration with the Horticultural Trades Association (the HTA).  Designed as a future-facing, interactive hub of inspiration, the display provided visiting retailers with the latest trend information and a long-term vision for their retail environments.

The Retail Lab focused on four key themes:-

#1. Rewilding

Glee 2017 Rewilding

Working with nature to create unique shopping environments.

85% of people live in an urban environment and this number is growing

However there is a latent attraction to wildlife and as the urban environment becomes greener there is a different market emerging. One where space is limited and gardens are not conventional. There is an opportunity to capture this market by providing inspiration, a can do philosophy and by providing knowledge on the benefit of growing in small areas.

#2. Community

Glee 2017 Community

Bringing people together through gardening projects

With the increasing urban population, community gardening, shared gardens and public spaces are becoming the new meeting places and the centre of community life. Garden centres can harness this trend and help people enjoy the ‘working together’ experience.


#3. Well-being

Glee 2017 Wellbeing

Creating outdoor retreats to regain balance

There is a growing understanding of the importance that outdoor activities play in our psychological and physiological well-being. The benefits of healthy eating, exercise and mental de-stressing (mindfulness) are well know.

However there is a growing understanding of the positive aspect plants can play in our lives as well. Smell, sound,air circulation and re charging all help us study and perform better.

#4. Family

Glee 2017 Family

Combining quality together time with skill development

Gardens are no longer places to work in and look at. They now form part of everyday living. Patios, play areas, outdoor seating, entertaining in the garden all form part of our everyday lives.

Gardens need to be user friendly for the whole family, accommodating the needs of children, pets as well as adults.


Source:  Glee Birmingham 2017 


Building Places That Work for Everyone

Building places that work for everyong

This report by the UK Green Building Council gives an insights into key Government priorities for the built environment and how the construction industry can address the challenges these priorities raise.

Under Theresa May’s leadership, the current Conservative Government has set out its vision of a country, an economy and a society that works for everyone. Achieving this vision requires the Government to address some of the fundamental challenges facing British people today.

  • The urgent need to build new homes and thriving communities
  • To reduce energy bills for those that are just about managing
  • Improved health and wellbeing to reduce the burden on the NHS
  • For jobs to be created, skills to be developed, and productivity to be boosted in a post-Brexit Britain

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) and its multitude of diverse and progressive member businesses believe that the built environment is fundamental to addressing these challenges, indicating that building places that work for everyone can and will support the Government’s policy priorities.

Download the report here



The Changing Consumer podcast from the KBB Conference

Changing Consumer podcast

At the kbbreview Retail and Design Conference 2016 Trend-Monitor’s Research Director, Jane Blakeborough, took part in a panel discussion about the Changing Consumer.

A podcast of this discussion is now available.

Alongside Graham Jones, Sales and Marketing Director of Mereway Kitchens,  and Tina Riley, Managing Director of retailer Modern Homes, Jane identified some key consumer trends which are influencing the way consumers purchase new bathrooms, discussing research prior to purchase, individualism, bargain hunting, environmental issues and much more.

Click on the image below to listen to this session via Youtube or follow this link


Note:  J M Blake Associates is now part of Trend-Monitor Ltd


A Vision of the Eco-Future

A vision of the eco-future

This year at EcoBuild,  the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) installed an interactive voting system to get people thinking about the flip-side of sustainability.

It’s all too easy to lose people when talking about ‘2 degrees of warming’, or ‘400 parts per million of carbon dioxide’, and UK-GBC wanted to change the messaging around climate change to explain how taking positive action today could lead to a better future for us all.

To do this they did some futures thinking – which involves imagining future scenarios and then working back to understand what enabling conditions are required from the present day onwards – to come up with five ‘good news’ headlines for 2050. Each of the headlines relates to one of UK-GBC’s core values, which they will be focusing on over the next 10 years as they work towards their vision of a more sustainable built environment.

UK-GCB voting for the future


What is your vision of 2050?

The following imagined news stories are placed in order of the votes received by Ecobuild attendees:

1st Place: “UK homeless population drops to all-time low”

For the first time in history, people can afford to live wherever they choose. Investment in local and national transport infrastructure, alongside widespread business uptake of remote working technology and local ‘tech hubs’ and of course the government’s commitment in recent years to high-quality house building across the country, mean that we have all but eradicated the historic phenomenon of rough sleeping.

2nd Place: “Record extreme weather event tests new resilient homes – no reported casualties”

Thanks to the climate change adaptation measures implemented over the last 30 years, UK homes are now able to withstand flooding and storms that historically devastated the country. The images of the 2010s where people were driven out of their homes seem barely believable when the technology to provide resilient homes already existed. This latest storm passed over the UK, barely registering, except for slightly higher viewing figures for the 46th final of Strictly Come Dancing.

3rd Place: “Cycling to work now healthiest way to travel”

Back in the 2010s, rising air pollution levels in cities meant travelling by bike actually did more harm than good to the health of cyclists. But today, data released by urban air pollution watchdog, WaftWatch, shows that pollution levels are at an all-time low – thanks to the shift to electric vehicles and the introduction of cleantech for domestic heating and industrial processes. This, combined with zero-crash-risk, self-driving cars means that now the only risk cycling has on your health is the chafing of lycra on your inner thigh.

4th Place: “Pollinator populations reach highest levels since 1950”

This year we have at last seen numbers of bees and other pollinators return to the levels they were at in the 1950s, before they were decimated in the latter half of last century and early part of this one. The national ‘bee-have yourself’ campaign of the 2020s, which saw families across the country planting wildflower seeds in their gardens, together with the urban ‘bee superhighways’, mandated in the 2030s which delivered retrofitted green corridors to link together all green spaces within cities, have made the country pollinator friendly once more. The knock-on effect is a move away from the sky-high pricing of manually pollinated food stuffs which we saw in the early 2030s.

5th Place: “New London rises. Brand new city built from 100% recycled materials from Old London city”

In what is now a global experiment of epic proportions, London has been entirely rebuilt using its own existing and reclaimed materials. The ‘Circular City’ is now reborn as an international example of salvaging materials. The UK has always been a world leader in recycling, but has now made the ultimate commitment to reuse, recycle and repurpose. The Mayor of London said “In the Victorian age, London was the first international city and now the story has come full circle”.

So what does this tell UK-GBC?

While these examples might seem far-fetched, their futures thinking shows that changes of this magnitude, or similar, could be achieved and what the poll results reveal could be key to achieving them.

Homelessness and casualties from extreme weather events were the run-away poll winners, and that isn’t surprising, given that they are tragedies we see daily, both in our own lives and in the media. We tend to focus on the issues that are more human and relatable rather than the far-reaching issues for humanity.

But what would happen to humanity if the bees all died out? What would happen if we used up the worlds resources? Famine, war, mass loss of life are the startling realities.

As an industry, it is key to remember that people will always prioritise issues that impact them directly and it is vital to find a way to communicate the case for a more sustainable built environment in a relatable way.

Source: UK-GBC


Sustainability Nudging

sustainability nudging

Nudges attempt to subtly change the environment in which people make decisions to help them make better choices — better for themselves and for society. 

People all over the world are becoming increasingly concerned about the health of the natural environment. For over 40 years, the phrase “think globally, act locally” has urged people to consider the health of the entire planet and to take action in their own communities.

Individuals have long been encouraged to save energy at home and at work, and to choose environmentally friendly food and other goods. But studies suggest that people still fail to make even small changes in their behaviour to address the negative environmental consequences of their actions.

In the past, most conservation and sustainability initiatives have used the sledgehammer approach to aggressively pursue behavioural shifts.  However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that “nudges” are a more effective solution.

By making small changes that exploit our judgemental biases, nudges re-engineer the environment in which decisions are made. One of the best examples of a nudge shows that by making driving license applicants organ donors by default, organ donations could be as much as 20 times higher than where the reverse is true. This subtle change to the default option from “opt-in” to “opt-out” dramatically affects participation rates, despite only changing which box people check on a form.

A wide range of effective nudges are now at work in the world, and companies are looking at more subtle ways to engage consumers in making short-term decisions that have long-lasting effects on the environment

Worldbeing is self-directed wearable and app that aims to help people reduce their carbon footprint, by making it engaging and social. Supported by the Carbon Trust, the app tracks users’ carbon usage to increase their understanding, and to encourage action by linking daily activities to their impact on the climate. Worldbeing aim to drive real change by helping a community of likeminded people make lifestyle changes to improve the wellbeing of the planet.

Other companies, like Smart & Blue with their Hydrao Showerhead, help to encourage sustainable habits in the home through positive reinforcement. Hydrao is an environmentally friendly connected device that tracks water usage in the shower.  By using LED lights to warn the user of excessive water usage, turning different colours when different thresholds are reached, it educates people about water conservation in the process.

Some brands such as Lush Cosmetics and Recyclebank are also bringing exciting “eco-innovations” to market. The aim is to nudge people towards waste-reducing behaviour through gamification and fun. For example, one game designer has created a card game called Waste-Not that encourages players to rethink uses for common objects that may otherwise end up in the bin.

Growing evidence shows that these nudges do change policy-relevant behaviours, while being inexpensive to implement. This success has led to the formation of the world’s first sustainability hub – bringing together ideas for sustainability based on nudges rather than big actions. The U.K. and U.S. governments have even set up behavioural insights teams (or “Nudge Units”) to find and quickly disseminate behavioural nudges for public policy.

All of the apparent benefits of nudges don’t come without their controversies though. The use of subtle manipulation tactics may not seem entirely ethical to some people, and what counts as a public benefit is never straightforward. Conflicting interests often compete, and whose interests get prioritised can be highly controversial.

Nonetheless, we are already exposed to a web of influences, and many of these are negative. Cities are designed in ways that make driving easier than cycling, and many goods are designed and marketed to be bought and discarded in increasingly wasteful cycles.

Nudging is about creating a choice architecture that guides towards an environmentally-friendly outcome. So rather than an unacceptable form of manipulation, nudges are a common-sense approach to helping consumers make informed decisions about the effects they personally could have on the environment.


Originally posted by Jane Blakeborough on Linkedin

Hydrao by Smart & Blue

Hydrao by French company, Smart & Blue, is an environmentally friendly connected device that tracks water usage in the shower, helping encourage sustainable habits in the home through positive reinforcement.

The connected showerhead begins tracking the water flow as soon as the shower is turned on. A green light will be shown on the Hydrao, which will remain the same color as long as the shower water used does not exceed 3 gallons.

Once this water level is exceeded, the Hydrao will communicate with the mobile app and change colors to alert the user of the next threshold. The Smart & Blue mobile app (available on iOS and Google Play) is designed for a family of four and allows the users to create thresholds and individual profiles, customise with their favourite colour and track their savings per shower.

Smart showerhead

On average, a 7-10 minute shower will require a minimum of 20 gallons of water, so the 3-tier thresholds are calibrated to alert the users before that amount of water is reached.   Hydrao’s LED lights change colour based on reaching threshold levels of 5 gallons, 7 gallons and 10 gallons, so for example, if a user customizes their thresholds to reflect yellow, red and green, the lights will change to these colours as each level is reached

The bathroom is responsible for nearly half of all water consumed in the home and 20% of that water is flushed down the toilet while the remaining percentage is comprised of showering and sink usage.

If used daily, Hydrao can potentially save users up to 5k gallons of water a year, per person, and depending on the source of water heating – electric or gas, users will also see a difference in their overall household utility bills.


Smart Shower appAs the struggle to convince consumers to adopt more sustainable habits, the Hydrao is an example of a more softly-softly approach, a move away from the finger-wagging and tapping into the trend for sustainability nudging.   Not only does Hydrao make shower time more enjoyable for children, in addition they are learning about water conservation in a fun way and developing sustainable life habits.

“I created Hydrao to with the idea in mind that I could educate my little girls on the importance of saving water; I needed to make bath time fun and educational in order for them to develop good habits,” says Gabriel Della Monica, CEO and Co-Founder of Smart & Blue. “Shortly after seeing the positive effects it had on them both, I decided to bring the same knowledge and excitement to other families around the world.”

Smart & Blue specializes in creating connected devices through sustainable development. Hydrao is Smart & Blue’s first product and CES 2016 Innovation Awards Honoree.