Eight steps to start prioritising sustainability

The last 6 months have given our industry many things. Some tough lessons, some moments of pure clarity, and importantly, a chance to review our sustainability priorities.

Understanding the circular economy and waste reduction is something that the events and travel sectors have previously struggled to make a business priority, when pitted against overall experience and budget. Until now.

isla is an action-driven network, founded as the event industry’s united response to the climate crisis.

Cheerful Twentyfirst proudly holds one of three board positions on the isla initiative. We founded isla alongside 11 leading agencies in the UK: a collaboration that shows the importance of this movement now, far above and beyond competition. 

isla brings together expertise from across the entire events sector, provides resources and training, and has developed tools to support and deliver industry-wide standardisation and sustainable best practice.

The shift to prioritise Planet Earth is very close to our hearts. Our sustainability ambassadors have outlined eight first steps for change for anyone starting out.

Start at home.
We don’t mean actually in your home (although your individual actions do make a huge difference). We mean in your agencies. Lasting change cannot be driven externally until you understand best practice in your own business. At Cheerful Twentyfirst we have sustainability ambassadors (hiya!) and a sustainability workforce who are responsible for writing, implementing and analysing our sustainability policy and practices internally.

Recycling is not good enough.
We have come a long way in the last year to understanding that recycling is actually the final option. Lasting change comes from the reduction of materials being produced in the first place.

Understand the circular economy.
We need to keep resources in use for as long as possible. Not only should you avoid building or producing your own material, but you also have to find a useful purpose for it after your event. 

Find the roots.
You should evaluate your entire supply chain. If you track a product’s entire journey you will better understand the impact of your purchase. 

Start phasing out.
Small steps are great steps, don’t worry about overhauling everything at once. It is absolutely OK to start making small steps until they become normal (we had to recently deal with a post-it note obsession).

Shop local.
The move to virtual and hybrid has seen a huge reduction in air travel, in turn reducing our carbon emissions, but in reality, business travel will pick up again. When business dictates that you fly somewhere in 2021, consider whether you will take a flight case of kit with you or shop locally, from materials that already exist. 

Believe in supply and demand.
The economy is simple in its production processes: the more demand there is, the more that is produced. Your commitment to only buy office cleaning products that are vegan really does make a difference in the supply and demand production chain. 

Be loud.
Use your voice to ask questions, learn about things you do not understand and speak to isla about how you can undergo education and training to better improve your knowledge.

Cheerful Twentyfirst are proud to have a robust sustainability working practice in-place. As an agency and through isla, we are hugely passionate about implementing lasting change in our industry, and bring sustainability to the conversation. 

You can read about our sustainable structure for BBC Studios. Our vision was to create a world-class presence that represented the bold and creative spirit of BBC Studios, a ‘World of Ideas’ designed by the best of British with a focus on innovation and a lasting sustainable legacy. 

– Hannah Luffman, Strategy Director
Credit: weareisla.co.uk