“Research by HP (Hewlett Packard) found 90 per cent of Australians are concerned about sustainability, while 50 per cent feel they’re doing enough,” he said.
“So the sustainability drum has been growing for a generation, but the drumming is now growing deafeningly loud.”
“You’ve seen the backlash against things like the humble drinking straw, well it won’t end with the drinking straw, it won’t end with a ban on plastic bags, pretty much every aspect of consumerism is now under the microscope.”
Mr Luthy said he believed attitudes on sustainability were undergoing a generational shift, and that would manifest in unexpected ways.
“Young people today really are happy to spend their pocket money on virtual goods in video games,” he said.
“Fortnite made 2 billion dollars last year and a lot of that was from players buying costumes for their characters which have no benefit in the game beyond not looking like a rookie.
“Perhaps the big shift will be towards this combination of more ethically responsible purchases and spending more of our time getting those status symbols and that quick fix in the virtual realm.”
Mr Luthy pointed to examples by big companies who were currently moving towards more ethical practises, like shoe company Adidas, which has pledged to remove virgin polyester from its supply chain by 2024.
“You’re seeing a real shift, from these cutesy collaborations and one-off marketing opportunities, to companies re-imagining their entire approach to their business.”
“In the same way smoking indoors is now hard to believe, and smoking on airplanes – we did that.
“I think fast fashion will become almost like tobacco, where you can’t believe people were buying t-shirts for $10 and throwing them away.”
While many businesses are currently working to transition to more ethical practises, Mr Luthy said the aged care sector was one area where society had taken its eye off the ball.
“I think people who work in that space get the urgency, and people who develop strategies to deal with issues in that space get it, but everyone else wants to focus on young, fun stuff,” he said.
“We have nowhere near come up with the solutions that we need — yet. I’m confident we will, but I think people do not talk about that enough.”
Stuart Layt covers health, science and technology for the Brisbane Times. He was formerly the Queensland political reporter for AAP.