When we take a holiday, or go see our favourite band, we rarely think about how eco-friendly the venue or transport getting us there is.
But now, businesses are starting to realise that their customers want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes.
The good thing is we may not need to actively consider how environmentally friendly our hobbies are for much longer, as performance venues, travel brands and even motor racing moves towards becoming more environmentally sustainable. It’s becoming a given that the ways we relax, and the companies we use to take some time out, are actually becoming more sustainable.
Organisations are starting to wake up to the fact we want them to be more eco-friendly. Venues such as Somerset House and the Lyric Theatre, and companies like Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Voyages have made it clear that consumers are starting to care about the entertainment. In response, they’re trying to change the way they operate.
Alison Tickell, a sustainability expert, founded Julie’s Bicycle to highlight just how green cultural institutions are. She thinks “there has been an amazing response to climate and action across the creative community. Now they need to get informed, get connected, get moving and get loud.”
She set up Julie’s Bicycle to “help people take meaningful and practical action. It was, and still is, committed to the whole sector, not just artists. The planet needs everyone, whether an artist or a funder, a tour manager or box office, to do their particular thing, and to come together.”
Karishma Rafferty is a curator at Somerset House, a gallery in London that subscribes to exhibition spaces becoming more environmentally sustainable. “Over the last few years we’ve definitely seen lots of increased public awareness around our climate and ecological emergency. Earlier this year we commissioned an American artist called Justin Brice Guariglia to create a new work called REDUCE SPEED NOW!
“He brought together writing from different novelists, poets, philosophers and activists together in our courtyard using large scale solar powered highway signs. I think the important thing that Somerset House can do is create space for multiple dialogues and ideas around the environmental crisis.”
Rafferty explains how excited she is that sustainability is becoming an “urgent” discussion around how we “both individually and collectively lead more sustainable lives”. Somerset House residents Ananas Anam are pioneers exploring pineapple based alternatives to leather, while designers called ADAY who are based in Makerversity onsite work in sustainable fashion and finding seaweed alternatives to silk.”
It's not just art. The London Theatres Consortium (LTC) is a group of 14 major producing theatres in London. As a group, they have reduced energy related emissions by 40 percent over this time and remain on track to hit the Mayor of London’s target to reduce emissions by 60 percent by 2025. Sian Alexander, chair of the London Theatre Consortium, says: "We have a very active staff green team and run annual campaigns that help us highlight and make systemic changes around key issues such as PlasticFreeLyric which focused on eliminating single use plastic including from our bars." They've even put a beehive on the roof.
An awareness of sustainability extends well beyond our everyday interests. Hobbies such as cruising and motorsports are also taking their eco-credentials much more seriously. Alison Tickell, founded the Creative Green Awards to celebrate the achievements that are often hidden behind celebrities and sound bites. “Amazing companies are grafting change, bit by bit, discovering how to redesign cultural values through practice and sharing their knowledge with others.”
In the past, cruises used to be seen as a way to completely relax and leave all your cares behind. But the ships sailors are sailing on are becoming much greener, making cruises far more sustainable than in the past.
In the past, cruises used to be seen as a way to completely relax and leave all your cares behind. Afterall, recent research shows that Brits on holiday care much less about recycling than when they’re at home.
However, as the climate crisis accelerates, companies like Virgin Voyages know that neither they nor their prospective Sailors want to ignore the environment any longer.
This is why they’ve signed up to a plethora of initiatives, including promising to reduce single-use plastics. From 2020, Sailors on Virgin Voyages will have coffee ground and created by Intelligentsia - a Chicago-based artisanal coffee supplier.
Another area speeding ahead in terms of ensuring sustainability is motor racing. Formula E, the all-electric racing series, is building a cult following. Rather than the petrol-powered vehicles that race in other series, Formula E sees electric cars race around city-centre circuits. It would be trite to say that the following for Formula E is growing in popularity. The races now take over global cities and attract crowds of thousands.
This is just the start of a bigger drive to move sustainability away from being just a niche movement and into the mainstream. The Creative Green Awards show that change is happening, but there is much, much more to be done. As climate crisis worsens, we’re running out of time.