2011 also looks to be the year that many former-fringe practices, such as avoiding processed food or fuel-efficient driving practices, continue to trickle into the mainstream. Here are some predictions for green trends we’ll see in the coming year:

As more Americans become concerned with sustainability issues and eco-friendly habits, the days of specific eco-fads like reusable shopping bags and refillable water bottles have become everyday lifestyle choices.


2011 also looks to be the year that many former-fringe practices, such as avoiding processed food or fuel-efficient driving practices, continue to trickle into the mainstream.


Here are some predictions for green trends we’ll see in the coming year:


1. Savvy green consumers:Dating services, dry cleaning, cookware and cat food –– all kinds of companies are marketing countless green products. However, consumers have become savvier about deciphering eco-friendly claims. In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission will revise its guidelines for environmental marketing claims to combat “greenwashing,” or misleading information about environmental benefits of a product or practices of a company. It’s impossible to know everything about the products we buy, but simple acts like reading an ingredient list and recognizing overly vague advertising claims can serve consumers well.


2. “Eco-superior” consumer products:More households are open to buying green products, but an eco-friendly dishwashing detergent still has to do a good job at cleaning the dishes. The trend-tracking website trendwatching.com says 2011 is the year for “eco-superior” products that are better for the environment than the old versions and better in practice, too.


3. Urban farming goes mainstream:Municipalities across the country are revising their rules for keeping chickens, bees and other animals as Americans grow more concerned with eating local, unprocessed foods. Keeping a chicken coop in the backyard will become increasingly normal in 2011. So will another farm standby: canning and preserving food.


4. Green data centers:You’ll likely never see the data center that stores your e-mails, health records, Flickr account, Google searches or Facebook information, but these clusters of computers and servers burn up huge amounts of energy. Some studies estimate the IT industry alone is responsible for 2 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. Companies are working to create more energy-efficient ways to secure and store our growing body of data, and the EPA has introduced an ENERGY STAR rating for data centers. The move towards “cloud computing,” or storing our data on the Internet, could also mean significant reductions in carbon emissions.


 5. Buying quality that’s built to last:Inexpensive, disposable products have been around long enough that consumers are learning the pitfalls of a cheap item with a short lifecycle. Add to that concerns about chemical off-gassing and huge landfills, and 2011 is likely to be a year when many people embrace vintage china sets, handcrafted furniture and locally knit sweaters. While these products sometimes cost more up front, savvy consumers know the long-term cost of buying cheap.


Did you know


According to research from the national environmental marketing company TerraChoice, the number of green products available to U.S. consumers increased by 73 percent between 2009 and 2010. However, 95 percent of these products commit some form of “greenwashing.”


Weight Watchers is overhauling its popular points system, assigning zero points to most fruits and vegetables and higher points to processed foods to encourage people to focus on healthier fare.


GateHouse News Service