Collage of sustainable objects

2018: A Great Year for Sustainability

Dec 21, 2018 - 5min read

These days, it feels like every year is jam-packed with new renewable energy records, and 2018 certainly hasn’t disappointed!

But that’s just one part of this year’s sustainability story; in other ways it feels like we could be on the precipice of an exciting shift in attitudes - witnessing the beginnings of a sea change both in individuals and in policy-makers.

We want to share some of our favourite sustainable stories of 2018 with you - the ones that tell the next chapter of the renewable energy story, the ones that made the biggest splash, and the one that’s just straight-up, heartwarming fun!

The renewable revolution continues

The falling costs of renewable energy have resulted in record-breaking energy stories popping up again and again throughout the year.

As recently as the last week of November, blustery weather helped wind power supply a third of the UK’s electricity, with output reaching a new record high of 14.9GW. You might say that the previous record of 14.6GW was - ahem - blown away!1

Wind turbines on a hill.

Meanwhile, a blisteringly hot summer saw solar power temporarily take over from gas as the UK’s top source of energy for the first time ever2 - and although the heatwave was a symptom of global warming, we can take heart from the PWC report that showed the UK was one of the top performers in de-carbonisation across the planet!3

The big picture is even more encouraging. The most recent official figures for 2018 show that renewable electricity generation increased by 3% compared to the same time last year, while renewable electricity capacity has increased by a whopping 10%.4

A field of solar panels.

Perhaps most exciting, however, is that the number of people switching energy suppliers has shot up significantly, with the number of households switching electricity up 9.9% to 460,000 per month, and the number switching gas up 22.5% to 390,000 per month.4

Some of those energy users will have been coming over to Tonik for renewable electricity and green gas - which we obviously love -  but what we also love is that people are becoming switched-on users of energy by thinking about the power that comes into their homes.

Hello, all-electric cars!

EVs have been nudging at the mainstream for some time now, but remain a far cry from the widespread popularity of hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius. But 2018 looks like it may very well have been a turning point.

Several flagship, all-electric cars launched this year, making the prospect of EV ownership considerably more attractive and practical than it has ever been before - most notably the Tesla Model 3, the latest model of the Nissan Leaf, and the all-new Jaguar I-Pace. The high demand and column inches generated by Tesla’s Model 3 alone suggests a new level of excitement surrounding EVs.

Meanwhile, the government’s ‘Road to Zero’ strategy was officially launched in July, ensuring that sales of all petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040, and outlining an ambition for at least 50% of new car sales to be ultra low emission by 2030. Vroom vroom! Or, to be more accurate: a very quiet, electric motor-type humming noise.

Goodbye, single-use plastics!

2018 will go down in history as the year that war was finally declared on those horrible and unnecessary single-use plastics that are turning the world’s oceans into a wasteland of garbage.

Ever since the rallying cry of Blue Planet II’s final episode - Our Blue Planet - at the end of 2017, plastic pollution has been almost perpetually in the public consciousness, and in headlines. This was the year that thoughts finally became deeds, with the European Parliament voting for a complete ban on single-use plastics and governments around the world taking similar measures to curb plastic pollution.

Companies are sitting up and taking notice too. Ikea followed suit after the ruling by banning single-use plastics from all of its products, while McDonalds - and countless others - announced they would ditch plastic straws. Here in Birmingham, we even got our very own zero-waste supermarket selling unpackaged, eco-friendly goods - it’s called The Clean Kilo!

Palm Oil? No thank you!

Saying no to palm oil became something of a cause celebre in November, thanks to a Greenpeace campaign and an Iceland advert that was controversially banned for being too political.

Large areas of rainforest are being cleared so that palm oil plantations can be set up, destroying the natural habitat of orangutans in the process - and the end product is showing up in everything from shampoo to ice cream, from chocolate to sliced bread.

After 2018 - and the numerous big name celebrities that gave their support to the campaign - there is going to be a significant increase in consumers paying very close attention to which of their products contain ‘dirty’ palm oil.

The building blocks of sustainability

Everyone’s favourite Danish toy company went big on sustainability in 2018 - and we’re not just talking banning plastic straws at Legoland.

Lego launched their first ever sustainable lego pieces in March this year, with a range of trees, bushes and leaves made from a plant-based plastic created from sugar cane! Not only that, but they went on to release a buildable Lego wind turbine to celebrate renewable energy in October.

We think these new products would look rather wonderful alongside Lego’s already available Modern Modular Home - which comes complete with solar panels and a built in EV charger. Looks like someone has been taking notes on the Tonik Ecosystem!