Out with the (visible) supercars and in with the solar-powered vineyards. Here’s how to brag about your lifestyle—the 2021 way

Being sustainable doesn’t mean having to take the shine off your gilded lifestyle, make fewer extravagant purchases or even travel the globe any less. With so much scrutiny these days, ensure your environmental virtue-signalling stays on point and greenwash your consumerist indiscretions by adopting a new kind of status symbol—one that makes you impervious to criticism.

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Tree Brokers

As millennials swooned over potted houseplants during lockdown, the true horticultural connoisseurs set their sights on entire trees. Up sprouted an entire industry of tree brokers, promising to furnish clients’ estates with “trophy trees” from anywhere in the world. Just point your finger at that perfectly balanced, mature monkey puzzle tree you saw on your travels around South America and it won’t be long before it shows up on the back of a lorry. Tree-planting is all the rage among billionaires, don’t you know?

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Health Mutt

Plant-based eating has boomed in recent years and leading a vegan lifestyle is an excellent way to smokescreen less sustainable habits like international jet-setting and weekends spent indulging in Colombia’s finest exports. However, the latest in-thing is keeping pets that don’t eat animal products; racing champion Lewis Hamilton’s bulldog Roscoe has been vegan for more than two years, for example, and singer Moby is among a group of prominent vegans lobbying for all dogs in Los Angeles animal shelters to be fed a vegan diet.

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There’s evidence that dogs—natural scavengers—can thrive as vegans, but cats, who have evolved as carnivores, miss out on necessary nutrients without meat. Who cares if your Tibetan mastiff was bred in Mongolia, lives in its own air-conditioned wing of the mansion, has flown around the world several times on your private jet and has its own limo... it’s vegan! You’re doing your bit.

A Toast to You

Owning a sustainable vineyard is a new way to tout your eco credentials while still making money, occupying an enviable position within a luxury industry, and getting other people to do most of the hard work. Just bounce around a few words like “regenerative”, “biodynamic” and “permaculture” and that eco-halo is yours. Head to your luxury real estate auctioneers to find organic and solar-powered vineyards for sale across southern France and Italy.

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It’s not a holiday, honest

Posting pictures from the top deck of a floating city isn’t the best look as the world burns. Recognising that even high-net-worth individuals may be acquiring a scrap of conscience in the era of Greta Thunberg, the travel industry has come up with a novel way of marketing round-the-world cruises. Selling tickets for “expeditions” simultaneously inflates guests’ sense of self-importance while legitimising one of the world’s most polluting industries. So what if there’s little basis for research?

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One seafaring excursion planned for next year—HK$880K per ticket—is marketed as the “first expedition world cruise in history”. Asking how these explorers will be contributing to the advancement the world’s scientific understanding would be nitpicking, of course. Instead, the journey is billed as “the first designed to host the pioneers of beauty, guests who want to see the world raw and unfiltered, unafraid of its purest form”. Intrepid!

Nothing to see here

Privacy is the ultimate privilege, and you can now either pay to have your home blocked on Google Street View or buy a property within a gated community that comes with that level of secrecy. If people can’t see your multiple pools, fire pit, exotic-animal zoo and enormous fleet of supercars, then they practically don’t exist and you can’t be criticised for them. What they don't know can't hurt them.