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My editor asked me about what trends I’d like to see in 2014.

I spent a lot of time with my 17-year-old nephew over the holidays and it got me thinking about youth today and the trends they have adopted. It might sound crazy, but I’ve decided that I hope the world gets a little more hipster in 2014.

horn rimmed glasses

Love of the vintage – and beyond

Deep down inside, where my crazy lives, I think hipsters can inspire (and change) the world. It turns out my nephew’s a “hipster” and now I believe in them even more. I cringe when I hear “hipsters” bandied about as a punchline by folks today, because we’re doing to hipsters what the “squares” did to hippies in the ‘60s.

We’d have a different world today if the ideas of the ’60s had been allowed to take hold.

Nearly five decades after the “Hippie” era, for me, the kids are way more than just alright.

We may tire of their cardigans, scarves, and Buddy Holly eyewear, but hipsters would inspire so much more than just a love of vintage in us if we let them.

Re-imagining the world

Socially, they’re color-blind on races. This is the generation raised by Harold & Kumar. You are not your skin color to today’s average teen, you’re much more than just a race.

Commercially, they’re not very materialistic. They’re the life-hacking generation. They are who we should thank for the trend in vintage clothing, upcycling of used and obsolete goods, and the rejecting of big-name buying. They’re practical. Why buy it if you’ve got something you can hack? Why replace it if you can upcycle it? Reuse it. Recycle it. Repurpose it. Rethink it.

Ecologically? For hipsters, buying local and organic food, or growing their own, or buying meat direct from farmers, is as much about making a political, economical statement as it is about being healthy. It’s part of a social movement, not just a battle against grocery bills. They’re changing urban laws in cities like Vancouver, where you’ll find chicken coops in yards a short walk from the downtown core.

Pro-science, pro-knowledge, anti-excess

Intellectually, they’re science-y! Yay, science. Sure, they may be the last great hope for corduroy, in love with ties and plaid and all things outdated, and you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re stuck in a time warp, but hipsters don’t shun the modern world. They’re not that idyllic.

From social media to kitchen appliances, there’s a place for smart technology and there’s a reason to adopt it. The under-30s have come up with incredible ideas. Hell, even teens today are rethinking technology with dramatic results. They’ve invented flashlights that are powered from body-heat, and super-capacitors that will charge a cellphone in 30 seconds and power it for 10 times as long.

Beyond their odd retro fashion sense, quirky 3-speed bikes, and resistance to haircuts, the hipsters quietly celebrate intelligence, social equality, and culture. Excess and indulgence is frowned upon. Displays of wealth are garish, while keeping it simple is cool.

These are qualities we could all use a little more of in our lives, regardless our demographics.

Taking better care – of themselves!

Today’s mainstream is shaped by yesterday’s hipster. Their culture rose out of the ‘90s and it’s gradually become more defined over the last 15 years. While frayed jeans and distressed clothing demonstrate a thrift-store hipsteresque street-cred, there’s a bigger social theme behind these kids.

It’s funny that we speak of hipsters with the same derision shown toward “long-hairs” and hippies of the ’60s. Fact is, today’s generation is doing way fewer serious drugs. Stats show binge drinking has plummeted for five years straight, and teen smoking is at the lowest rate ever.

Hipster riding bike

So my hope is that we give teens, young adults, and their worldview the respect they deserve. From science to social behaviour, they really are trying to change the world, and it’s time we follow their lead.

How to be hip – and live more green while we’re at it!

Here are some ways I’d like us to learn from their example:

  • Donate goods instead of disposing of them.
  • Repair, repurpose, or upcycle things instead of replacing them
  • Work with your community to celebrate different cultures and protect the environment.
  • Stop buying flashy, excessive things, and instead look for personality and uniqueness without big prices
  • Conserve everything from water through to fossil fuels; use less plastic, embrace alternative power sources like solar
  • Walk and bike instead of taking vehicles
  • Shop locally more often
  • Embrace intelligence, diversity, and social awareness
  • Realize solutions are often around us or can be attained by living more responsibly
  • Believe that your small footprint makes a big statement

Maybe this year we trend toward a less material society. At home, I hope decor becomes less flashy, more personality-driven, and more practical.

Down to earth, and practical

I hope we see a return to skills of old, like upholstering old furniture, so we can keep things out of landfills longer. I hope we remember the joy of doing and accomplishing things by making them ourselves, rather than falling for glowing big-box store signs like deer in headlights.

I dream of a continuing surge in solar panels, green technology, and sustainable products.

I also dream of a world where this down-to-Earth, practical, aware counter-culture becomes the mainstream.

Maybe 2014 is the year in which the hipsters save the world, or at least got a headstart on it. After all, pretty soon all those little changes will add up to something big.

Reduce your footprint. Lower your expectations of indulgence. Become practical. Conserve everything. Eat more healthfully, more locally, more sustainably.

In 2014, I invite you to find your inner-hipster.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.