Ethical Trends for 2021

The world as we knew it changed drastically in 2020, and we’ve all had to adapt to very different lifestyles. From hoarding toilet rolls to a growing support for shopping local, the pandemic has shone a light on society’s relationship with consuming and has given rise to some new trends that no one could have predicted!

Conscious consumerism has been growing for years, but, with only essential retail being open and delays in online orders during lockdowns, we’ve all been forced to think carefully about the things we buy. 

Let’s see what 2021 is likely to have in store!


The plant-based revolution keeps growing!

Back in our 2019 blog, we talked about the rise of plant-based living, and in 2021 it’s safe to say that this wasn’t a passing trend! 

January 2021 saw 582,538 people worldwide participate in Veganuary – pledging not to eat or consume any animal products for the entire month.

While not all of these people are going to convert to veganism long-term, many will adopt a plant-based diet that includes just small amounts of meat, dairy and eggs.

Last year, Tesco said that sales of meat alternatives, specifically burgers, mince and sausage substitutes, had increased by 50%. In fact, they aim to increase their sales of meat alternatives by 300% in the next five years.

In 2021, it’s expected that people will continue consciously consuming food in a way that is better for the planet.

Great news for the environment and plant-based brands!


Sustainable clothing is in fashion

Ethical fashion has been growing steadily over the last few years, but it’s been mostly targeted to quite a niche audience with a particular style aesthetic – minimalist, natural and timeless.

This is starting to change as the industry explodes with brands making a range of clothes suited to all tastes!

The desire for sustainable fashion is here.

More people are aware of the terrible environmental impact of fast fashion − from the decimation of natural resources in the mass production of garments to the throwaway attitude towards cheap clothes.

In 2020, fast fashion brand Boohoo came under fire for the poor treatment of their garment workers. Pretty Little Thing faced a backlash for offering dresses for as little as 8p in their Black Friday deals.

The true cost of fast fashion made headlines, but it’s social media that has been the main tool in raising awareness about these issues.

There’s been a rise in influencers talking about building a capsule wardrobe full of ethical and sustainable clothing that they’ll have for years and years. They talk about investing in clothes that are produced ethically and also buying second hand, from sites like eBay and Depop, to reduce waste.

The circular economy is disrupting the fashion market: this is a sustainable business model that aims to reuse and recycle all materials. Vogue predicts it could be worth $5 trillion in 2020 and is set to keep growing!

Brands like Organic Basics now sell jeans that are made without synthetic materials, that can be fully recycled, and they openly share all aspects of their supply chain.

The demand for more sustainable fashion choices can be seen by the creation of ethical lines by big retailers like ASOS and H&M.

One thing is certain: customers are well educated and will no longer stand for ‘greenwashing’. In fact, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) may introduce legislation to tackle it this year.

Shoppers want to look good AND feel good, which is great for brands with true authenticity!


Home cooking and self sufficiency

People are spending more time thinking about the food they’re eating and the produce they buy. This has given rise to many new trends… and a generation of sourdough bread enthusiasts!

With all this extra time gained from working at home, people are moving away from pre-packaged convenience foods and learning how to cook from scratch. From healthy midweek dinners to epic weekend meals, they are recreating that restaurant experience at home.

Interestingly, Pinterest Predicts anticipates chef-style home cooking to be one of the biggest food trends in 2021, along with searches related to epic charcuterie boards!

These platters are creatively stacked with mouth-watering foods that are not only delicious but extremely photogenic. We’re not just talking cheese and crackers, but creative combinations of foods like Mexican tacos, desserts and fruits.

Small businesses have popped up across the UK providing deliveries of charcuterie boards using fresh, local ingredients.

Social media sites like TikTok have made cooking fun; new food crazes seem to emerge every few days, from cloud bread to vegan carrot bacon, offering some light relief amid the stresses and turmoil of life in a pandemic.

It will be interesting to see how the home cooking trend continues when restaurants start to operate normally again!


Shopping local

An unexpected and positive change to come out of the pandemic is the renewed support for shopping local.

Independent food shops won new customers during 2020.

During the early stages of the pandemic, supermarkets couldn’t keep shelves stocked to meet demand, and more people turned to their local shops. Smaller stores with less people feel safer than big supermarkets too.

People can see the threat to their local high street that repeated lockdowns bring and want to support their local economy by making a conscious decision to shop locally. Campaigns across social media and organisations like Small Business Saturday helped in the run up to Christmas, showing that we value our small, local retailers!

 The support for shopping local is likely to remain throughout 2021.


2021 looks set to be a great year for brands who want to do good!

It’s not just activists who are now campaigning for environmental issues, social media is bursting with people who care about social issues and sustainability, from reducing their carbon footprint to campaigning for climate change policies.

Brands with ethical and sustainable values are now getting exposure to new audiences.

We can’t wait to see more positivity emerge from what will of course be a difficult year.