TREND: PRESCRIBING NATURE
More and more companies are promoting the outdoor lifestyle. “Nature Smart” brands are educating consumers on the benefits of nature. It used to be that the person who served as the poster child for this idea was more of a modern-day hippie than a corporate CEO. They would literally shout from the mountaintops. All of that continues to change.
REI (Recreational Equipment, Incorporated) is one of those brands that literally walks the talk. Founded in 1938, REI is an American retail and outdoor recreation services corporation. It is organized as a consumers’ cooperative. REI sells sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment and clothing.
REI has worked to awaken a lifelong love for the outdoors in their members. Today, nearly 80 years later, the co-op has grown from 23 climbing friends to a community of more than 17 million members.
Each year, they close on Black Friday to ensure that their employees spend time outdoors, all part of their #OptOutside campaign. Even bigger, REI is partnering with the University of Washington to the tune of a $1 million donation to a new academic initiative called “Nature for Health.” The idea is to build a mountain of data surrounding the health benefits of living a life outside.
There are more exercise classes and indoor programming than ever before, but the big box gyms are not the only game in town. Indoor classes are often costly. Outdoor movement has a new term that is spreading globally: “green exercise.” Green exercise is a term that describes working out in the outdoors. Many find that green exercise lowers blood pressure, increases creativity, decreases depression, and increases blood flow.
Biofit, an organic fitness company based in London, has invested in biophilic design and also teaches many classes outdoors. Most importantly, they educate others on why our bodies are meant to move outdoors.
Some people practice yoga outdoors. The mindful practice of walking or hiking in nature is “yoga for the brain.” Look for more traditional fitness outlets turning their attention outdoors.
Next Generation Plant Power
Thankfully for the visual power of Instagram, plants and flowers have become big business. Millennials have taken to gardening and planting in a way that has never been seen before. Being “green” has never been hipper than it is today. Greenery NYC, a botanic design company, has increased its clientele by 6,500 percent since it was founded in 2010. “Wellness is a priority for our millennial-aged residents,” said Dave Maundrell, executive vice president of new developments for Brooklyn and Queens at Citi Habitats. “They’re willing to pay more for access to a green space.”
This “greening” of spaces has taken over even the smallest of apartments and allows people to feel like they are more connected to nature even if they are not. CNBC reports, these and other budding green thumbs are at the root of the DIY yard and gardening industry hitting $36.9 billion, according to the 2017 National Garden Survey, which found that of the six million Americans who got into gardening in 2016, five million were between the ages of 18–34. In addition to outdoor gardens, house plants are known to cleanse the air, remove pollutants, and some even promote sleep.
Forecasting the Future
- As nature disappears—and disappears from our lives (with intense urbanization and lives spent in front of screens)—it will become both increasingly precious and commodified. Companies that “rewild” our homes, our offices, our travel—and even our fitness and beauty regimes—will meet deep human desires.
- Camping will continue to undergo a boom and revolution. Yes, more glamping, which brings the luxury hotel experience to the tent or yurt, but the future will also be much more high-tech and, at the same time, more ruggedly authentic. We’ll see an explosion of super high-tech camping gear—companies such as Airbnb and Tentrr make camping much more social—and a rise in camping apps that use things such as augmented reality and AI to transform the experience.
- Millennials famously have made houseplants their “kids,” but biophilic design (the many ways that nature can be brought into the built environment) is just at the beginning.
This is an excerpt from the “Prescribing Nature” trend in the 2019 Global Wellness Trends Report.