6 sustainability trends for 2018 In a world of increasing volatility predicting trends is a foolhardy business – just ask any pollster. However, for those involved in strategy it is crucially important to second-guess what the major trends will be in society and plan accordingly. Hubbub works across many sectors spending a considerable amount of time listening to people from all levels of society. Based on this insight here are our six trends for 2018. 1) Austerity plus Austerity has never been far from the headlines, but in 2018 the impact will become ever more apparent. The government has announced a welfare benefit freeze for working age people that will cost a typical working family with two children about £300 a year. Retailers have been protecting people from rising food prices by internal cost cutting. This cannot continue and there is likely to be price rises for food and other essential commodities such as energy and fuel. This inflation plus welfare cuts mean that those who are just about managing will really begin to feel the pinch at a time when support services are being reduced. This is likely to lead to alienation and hardship resulting in ever more volatile engagement with the political system and possibly social unrest. 2) Feral politics Faced with an increasingly agitated electorate, intractable problems such as Brexit and a fragile power base it is likely that government policies will become increasingly unpredictable often responding to the latest public concerns or well organised campaigns. Extravagant policy announcements are likely as attempts are made to put a positive spin on the leave process. From an environmental perspective it seems the Conservatives have decided that one way to reach the younger electorate is to polish their green credentials. With Gove in charge at DEFRA seeking to rebuild his credentials this could lead to new announcements on schemes such as deposit legislation targeting single use plastics. 3) The control agenda Take back control was the mantra of Brexit but is becoming the driving force for many different groups due to the national leadership vacuum. Hubbub is seeing increased community action at a hyper-local level with people coming together to create their own solutions to fill the policy vacuum. Local authorities are starting to promote a co-operative agenda encouraging communities to take more ownership. Companies are collaborating on major issues such as food waste to drive change at an international level and there is increased collaboration between the world’s major cities as they seek to find a more sustainable path forwards. 4) The war on packaging The tide of public opinion against single use packaging is building fast. The impact of Blue Planet 2 has been considerable and is being reinforced in diverse media including campaigns by Sky, the Daily Mail and The Guardian. Sufficient momentum has been built that if the packaging industry doesn’t make a considerable jump in their current activities then government legislation is likely to follow including charges or taxes on certain forms of packaging. 5) Diverse diets Austerity plus growing concern about the provenance of food is likely to see increasingly diverse dietary choices. On the one hand many households will turn to cheaper ways of getting easily accessible protein. This will build on growing obesity and health problems. On the other, we are likely to see an increasing move away from meat heavy diets driven by a populace becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their food choices and concerned about health scare stories connected to processed meat. 6) Water resource One of the surprising announcements at the start of 2018 will be that the South East is facing drought conditions. Dry winters have meant that water supplies have not been replenished and this linked to a growing population is placing a severe strain on water resources in the region. For the relatively affluent south-east of the country this may be the first time that they realise that daily living is not immune to the increasing vagaries of our climate. Responding will pose a major challenge for government and the water companies testing out how they will start to engage with the public on the wider environmental challenges we are increasingly facing.