Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

The Year in Review: Here’s What Happened with Food, Beauty, Botany, and Trends in 2017

2017 was a banner year for green living, the environment, food, beauty, farms, medicine, and sustainable innovation. Here are the developments and trends that captivated us along the way.

2017 began with a boon to nature from the design world, as Pantone announced their 2017 color of the year– Greenery (15-0343), which was conceptualized “to provide us with the hope we collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political landscape,” Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, said at the time– a comment that would later seem like foreshadowing.

“Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate, revitalize, and unite, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another, and a larger purpose,” she said. It was and remains a very Garden Collage aesthetic (we use similar colors in our logo, after all).

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Trump, however, soon ripped a hole in the political and environmental landscape with his long-promised attacks on America’s public lands, and so catalyzed what became a passionate and at times disheartening year for the environment and the people who care about it.

Number 45 regularly made it a point to attack the National Park Service and the myriad organizations that support public land in this country, from ill-advised perspectives on drilling to the sale of public wilderness to private corporations. Trump himself is not a friend of the environment, but in his wake, a number of organizations stepped up to protect the environment that we hold so dear.

As if in relation to the mounting skepticism that is playing out on the national stage, small batch natural beauty went mainstream; wellness summits, “detoxing”, and morning routines all came under fire as Fake News and Fake Science have begun to collide.

All over the world– no doubt in response to the pace of the media cycle and the speed at which the average modern citizen lives their life– people expressed their yearning for nature, especially millennials, who– as many of this year’s think pieces have noted– are obsessed with house plants.

Photo: Andreana Bitsis

Here at GC, we kept a measured eye on the manifestation of these cultural touchstones while traveling to discover amazing farm-to-table restaurants in cities like Los Angeles, Milan, Tokyo, Paris, New York, Lisbon, Chicago, Tulum, Santa Fe, Atlanta, Portland, Vancouver, Cartegena, Boston, and beyond– all while reading lots of great books (Former President Obama’s chosen method for coping with reality).

Along they way, we learned that farm-fresh food can actually help one cope with stress, and that houseplants can improve mental health. We also observed that a number of nature-inspired hotels and public spaces are redefining modern architecture to be more biophilic and, as a result, informing how people travel. Garden hotels are currently underway in cities like Seoul, Paris, and Tulum.

Photo: Kengo Kuma

On the home front, people are increasingly become wary of smartphones and their effect on health– from sleep to happiness and loneliness– a feeling that has spiked precipitously among teenagers.

In a watershed piece in the Atlantic titled Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation?, psychologist Jean M. Twenge writes: “Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy. There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all non-screen activities are linked to more happiness.”

Twenge’s conclusion, among others, is that kids need to spend more time away from screens— ideally outside, with their family, and with each each other– in order to maximize happiness. This recommendation comes at a time when scientists are beginning to call for kids to spend more time outdoors— a movement that shows all signs of continuing in 2018.

Elsewhere in the digital realm, we saw fewer flower crowns this year than last year, but floral baths became huge trend on Instagram— and the seemingly ubiquitous photos of gorgeous flowers floating in alluring looking bathtubs continue to delight us. Mostly, it was New Age mystics, mindfulness practitioners, and modern witches doing the posting, so the baths were often paired with mantras that got us thinking about how much people need rituals in this day and age (for what it’s worth, psychologists insist that baths help comfort us from feelings of loneliness and social rejection— and other studies show that baths are also better for the environment than showers, because they use less water).

Pop culture continued to take cues from nature, as well. Botanical music videos started popping up everywhere, and floral fashion continued to storm the runway.

Photo: Imaxtree

We learned about Flower Gazing Meditation for the first time, and we also realized it was possible not only to forage your own mushrooms safely, but to forage your own spring water— even in places like Upstate New York!

Elsewhere, sleep optimization became the new wellness gold rush, with a tons of Silicon Valley-esque investment going into this sector. Relaxation apps like Sleep Genius (which was used to help astronauts fall asleep) and innovative lighting systems like Lighting Science’s HealthE™ Genesis Dynaspectrum™ LED Luminaire were designed to help our bodies adjust to light as we were meant to experience it in nature, which is to say that the light modulates around sunset to get dimmer and dimmer in order to stimulate the production of melatonin. (These specific spectrums utilize the power of light to assist in regulating your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which was developed by NASA to help people sleep.) Even orange glasses that block blue light, which used to be “fringe”, are now mainstream, with multiple options on Amazon.

Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

CBD products were all the rage, popping up as the active ingredient in a variety of products, from tampons to bath bombs— and not just in the expected “liberal” places like New York and LA. (We recently saw CBD oil in a suburban Georgia package store; we saw CBD pain salve in a soap shop in rural Virginia.)

Feminist Health Care and self care in general was bigger than ever— from conversations about end-of-life doulas to radical acupuncture clinics to the resurgence of “Earth Magic”. Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2018, Ultra Violet 18-3838, seemingly underscores this trend, with its invocation of spirituality and galactic exploration. Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to the color purple, in particular shades like Ultra Violet, which reminisce of the night sky.

“The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world,” Pantone wrote of the decision. “The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspires connection.”

Photo: Molly Beauchemin

As the year drew to a close, a collective of “Silence Breakers” was named TIME Magazine’s illustrious Person of the Year, a benchmark of culture benchmark that consecrated the international renaissance happening with respect to women’s wellbeing around the world (an important issue to us here at this women-run magazine).

As political tensions mounted, an interested in the esoteric and whimsical grew, and plants, nature, and botanicals were often fueling the trend. The gardens and exotic natural locations featured in Game of Thrones became top travel destinations, and new, colorful superfoods like blue spirulina were used to make unicorn lattes— which, along with mermaid toast— seemingly kicked-off a renewed interest in “rainbow food”, an aesthetically pleasing and highly-Instagrammable take on plant-based eating that’s defined by color and vivacity.

Photo: Andreana Bitsis

Everywhere in 2017, people were seemingly looking for relaxation and relief from the repeat disappointments of the current White House Regime. Self care and herbal healing took on new primacy, and botanical havens like NYC’s The Alchemist’s Kitchen and LA’s House of Intuition continued to host events about everything from stress relief and mindfulness to social activism and “the resistance”.

And, as all of this unfolded, Garden Collage Magazine was there to participate in and comment on all of it. Thank you for joining us on this strange and wonderful journey; thank you for reading; thank you for signing up for our newsletter and hanging out with us on social media (–two things you should do if you haven’t signed up or followed us already); and thank you, above all, for being an active participant in this dialogue.

Living meaningfully and in harmony with nature is every person’s right, and– when done with intention– is as beautiful, fulfilling, restorative, and life-affirming as one can imagine. Plus, it’s also fun. Plants are really cool!

Thank you for a wonderful year. See you in 2018!

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