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We need to talk about sustainability

What can we do as creatives and communicators to support sustainability and equality?

Futerra is a change agency that fuses the magic of creative and the logic of strategy to make sustainability happen. Here, they discuss the global Covid-19 pandemic, and what we can do as creatives and communicators to support sustainability, equality and push change for the better.

Living in a world that has been ground to a halt by a global pandemic is a complex and intangible experience. A situation made worse still by the “issue advertising” and “pandemic purpose” marketing that is flooding our screens, blasting our inboxes, clogging up our ethers and further undermining our whittled trust in corporations and “the powers that be”. 

As humankind’s health and safety understandably remains at the forefront of everyone’s priorities, it's tempting to think that sustainability would take a back seat. But we are at a crisis crossroads where sustainability and equality are as important as ever, if not more so: we’ve seen how fragile and unequal our now crippled systems really are in the face of a global health crisis, one that provides us with a terrifying blueprint of the climate crisis that we continue to snowball towards. 

But all is not lost: the pandemic has also shown us that we’ve got what it takes to act fast and for the better. As individuals, we have the power to harness our networks, whether they be local or digital, to instigate collective action and build resilience. We’ve also seen this with the recent anti-racist movement: many have woken up to the fact that we’ve built a beautiful future accessible only to a few, not an equitable world free for the many. Those protesting in the streets and online are proof that people continue to push for change for the better. 

We need clear and effective communication to make these times more tangible and solution-driven; to seize this moment to reimagine and rebuild our systems with resilience, at the heart of which lies diversity. 

So, in this inter- and post-pandemic world, what can you do as creatives and communicators to support sustainability and equality?

Change the narrative

Our screens, broadsheets and radios are monopolised by stories of doom and gloom. We of course need transparent information in order to fully understand the problems of climate change and inequality. But the negative lens through which news is currently framed leaves people feeling overwhelmed, paralyzed and powerless, and in doing so mars efforts to find solutions. We need to change the narrative from being overwhelming to optimistic, leaving people inspired, empowered, and clear on how they can make change. Optimism isn’t about rainbows and butterflies, it’s about believing that change is possible and taking action towards it. You can utilise the power of optimism to help give people the hope that change is possible.

  • Use your creativity to inspire
    Storytelling, visualisation and animation are but a handful of creative means through which you can make huge issues like sustainability and equality easy to understand. It’s also key to making the solutions fun and engaging. 

  • Share positive memes and content
    It’s helpful to highlight how far we’ve come so that people don’t get paralyzed by the size of the problem. Ensure that when you shine light on an issue, you’re also showing solutions or ways to take action. Humour is also a great way to make it more accessible.

  • Show what an equitable world looks like
    We need to remain optimistic in the fight for equality and be as inclusive as possible along that journey. Share your ideas, and those of others, of what an equitable world should look like.

Showcase the solutions

We need to know what we are working towards and how to get there. Highlight solutions that we know work and the people behind them. People will feel energized and inspired to know that there are others behind them actively working on these issues too.

  • Talk about climate (people are still interested)
    Surveys have shown that even during the pandemic, people want brands to talk about sustainability issues like recycling and climate change. Let’s show the work being done, the commitments being made, and the solutions that we’ve discovered.

  • Don’t forget that solutions can look like many different things 
    There is more than one way to be a part of the solution. Use your strengths and skillset to best approach these issues and highlight various ways for people to get involved – from recycling to switching to a more sustainable bank, to showing up at protests.

  • Use your platform to highlight brands who are in service to society's needs not just their own interests
    The pandemic has become a pivotal moment for brands to not just act with values but to be of service to their communities and you should spread the word of those rising to the occasion. 

Let people know what they can do, big or small

Let people know what actions they can take to get involved: from everyday sustainable lifestyle choices, to joining webinars or workshops, all the way to getting involved politics or showing up at protests.

  • Show sustainable lifestyles
    In the 90 days of lockdown running up to Earth Day, Google reported that world-wide searches for ‘how to live a sustainable lifestyle’ grew by 4550%. The interest and intent to live sustainable lifestyles is there, you just need to communicate how people should go about it.

  • Help build community and give people a space to connect
    To create a sustainable and equal world we must start with building that within our own communities – actively take part in creating spaces where people can connect and encourage others around you to do the same.

  • Highlight other resources that show what people can do
    A community of incredible changemakers have remained connected and opened their virtual doors to more audiences and conversations. Share useful, reliable and unbiased resources with your networks to inspire and mobilise.

As young creatives and communicators you have the creativity, networks and vision to inspire and empower people to support sustainability and equality in a positive, constructive and forward-looking way. The change we want to see starts with you.

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