Shhh, don’t mention the ‘S’ word

Last week was the second Sustainability Communications Forum held in London. It brought together a heady mix of sustainability and communications professionals from around the UK for a day of lively discussion and debate.

It was my first foray into a conference covering this dual area although in my career I’ve had feet in both camps more than once. First impressions were simple – what lovely people work in sustainability communications whether their remit is being sustainable, or telling people about it. There was a genuine passion in the room, and I don’t use the term flippantly, to make a difference and leave this planet better than we found it.

So, we established that we want the same thing but the question was how do we get it? The central debate roamed around bridging the gap between those that know sustainability inside out, and those that can talk about it effectively both inside and out. Should the ‘S’ word be a separate topic, or should it be central to what a brand is trying to say to both its employees and its customers?

It was a relief to hear the overwhelming consensus was in favour of making sustainability so embedded into what a brand stands for, that no one even needs to mention the ‘S’ word. Imagine a future where sustainability wasn’t something you had to point out because it was just expected of a brand? Or to steal the words of many a creative writing teacher, ‘show don’t tell’ – companies will live and breathe sustainability so obviously that communicators will simply have to share their stories for people to know they have sustainability nailed.

Stories like Ecover, who presented at the forum with a wonderful example about reclaiming plastic waste from the oceans to recycle into their bottles; no need for the ‘S’ word here, their actions speak for themselves.

Here at Neo we’re fortunate to work with clients who have similar stories, like Sure Chill, which has revolutionised cooling technology. This is where the power for change lies, it isn’t about preaching, it is about positively demonstrating the difference we can make.

As we strive to fix the damage we’ve inflicted on this planet let’s hope that there will be more and more stories to tell as organisations and the brands that represent them become one with sustainability and the ‘S’ word becomes the stuff of legend.