The worldwide media attention attracted by Greta Thunberg and her impassioned cry of “How dare you?” at the recent UN Climate Summit is just one manifestation of the rapid rise of environmental issues on many agendas. From calls for a ban on giant cruise ships in Venice, to the closure to visitors of the popular Philippine holiday island of Boracay, travel and tourism are facing criticism from many quarters.
Judging by the applause received in response to TFWA President Alain Maingreaud’s comments on sustainability at this year’s TFWA World Conference, it would appear that our industry, which has travel at its heart, understands that it cannot ignore its responsibility to minimise its impact on the environment. While we will still continue to travel, we must look at ways in which travel can become more sustainable. Encouraging consumption of our brands, while at the same time acting responsibly, is a difficult circle to square. But solve the dichotomy we must.
Also speaking from the conference stage, The Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of The United Kingdom, proposed that the answer is to accelerate the development of science and technology to allow us to consume sustainably.
This belief was echoed the next day in the Innovation in Action workshop. Chris Morriss of retail experience company Concourse Display Management said that his business has invested heavily in software that allows retailers and designers access to assets which have been disposed of and could be reused. He maintained that we need to move from a linear economy, in which we ‘take, make and dispose’, to a circular future, in which we ‘recover, reuse and recycle’.
Shifting attitudes are also changing the way brands present themselves, according to Arnaud Meysselle of REN Clean Skincare, the sponsor of the TFWA Innovation Lab Press Breakfast. “Packaging used to mean luxury,” he said. “Now it means waste.”
The tide has changed. Ultimately, it is the brands that take their responsibility to the environment seriously that will win.