Sustainability trends in lockdown

From Billie Eilish sharing posts and talking about environmental issues in interviews to Jaden Smith promoting water bottle company JustWater and his Homeless Vegan food van, being in-tune with environmental issues has never been trendier. Whether it is because of celebrities and important figures such as Greta Thunberg spreading the message and inspiring millions to adopt a new eco-friendly lifestyle, or the many hours we have had during lockdown to educate ourselves on what we are doing to the planet, something has shifted in the demand for products, for events and for our lifestyles to be more environmentally friendly than ever.

One big change is the drastic uptake in veganism and especially Veganuary. Veganuary is the movement that encourages people to try to go vegan for the whole of January, with the idea of hopefully staying vegan thereafter. The campaign launched in 2014, and has grown from around 3000 participants in 2014 to over 500,000 participants in 2021. Their mission statement is to create a ‘vegan world’ by supporting people and businesses alike to move to a plant-based diet as a way of protecting the environment, preventing animal suffering, and improving health. They claim that by encouraging 1 million people to go vegan for 31 days, they have saved 103,840 tonnes of C02 equivalent gases from being produced, saved 6.2 million litres of water, and the equivalent of 1645 tonnes of sewage from entering the waterways. Not to mention that 72% of people who tried it for the month of January in 2020 claim to have stuck with veganism.

Read more about Veganuary here.

For a number of years, events have started to consider how they can be more environmentally friendly. Many UK festivals now go ‘plastic free’, discouraging or banning use of single use plastics. Carbon-off-setting of events is also popular, with Finsbury Park (a festival in North London), having gone as far committing to plant one tree for every ticket purchased to off-set the carbon emissions that the event produced. They also used HVO, a renewable form of diesel, and solar panels to power the whole event. Read more about it here.

Here at WMSH, we’ve been working on sustainability campaigns since 2014 and are constantly looking for ways to go greener. Last year might’ve been a quieter period for us, but we still managed to plant 206 trees for carbon-offsetting, and have been using the down time to work on finding sustainable suppliers to add to our database, with the aim of being able to offer a sustainable option on everything we do by the end of the year. As part of that, we’re working with our print suppliers on closed-loop systems (so printed materials and branding can be returned and recycled), and looking at the materials we use and how to align with the four pillars of sustainability (reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle). Currently all our builds are, where possible, broken down to their core components to be reused or repurposed, with viable items donated to charities and good causes, and others recycled or sent for zero-to-landfill energy recovery.

Having more free time has allowed us to do more research and many of the team have started to implement certain things into our lives that we couldn’t find the time to do before. We asked the WMSH team what things they’d changed in their lives recently, with a view to living more eco-friendly lives.

Lewis (Intern)

Personally, after going vegan 2 years ago, I thought that was all I had to do and could do to for the environment, but during lockdown I wanted to find more ways to be environmentally friendly. One way I have achieved this is by shopping at a shop called “How It Should Be Done”, which allows you to bring your own containers to fill up with things such as cereal and washing up liquid from pumps to avoid single use plastics.

Stephen (Creative Designer)

I’ve ditched plastic bottles in the bathroom and instead opted for shampoo and conditioner bars along with soap bars. Also, in the bathroom I have swapped my toothbrush for a new bamboo one that stops single use plastics. To also stop using single use plastics I have stopped getting carrier bags in our fortnightly supermarket food delivery and I use the bags I have when I go to the corner shop every time instead of buying a new one. Cutting down on beef is another thing, I’d say I’ve cut down on it by 80%, and only have it on occasions now.  To save energy I have bought a new TV with A++ energy efficacy that also auto turns off, and I also use my car about 90% less than I was, and only make the rare trip when really needed.

Alice (Senior Event Producer)

I follow ‘The Sorry Girls’ on YouTube – they’re Canadian DIYers, who also have a passion for sustainability, and I’ve taken on some ideas from their channel. I’ve switched to re-usable cotton pads (they made their own from old towels, but I cheated and brought mine) and try and DIY various things from stuff I already have, to save buying new.

I’ve also taken to obtaining wood for my DIYs from the Glasgow Wood Recycling centre, not only is it generally cheaper than buying new, and means they aren’t cutting down more trees to sell it, the extra nicks give pieces a bit more character. I made my sister some shelves for Christmas from some reclaimed scaffolding boards.

I’ve also found a supplier that sells whisky barrels, straight from the distilleries, for a fraction of the price you’d buy them at a garden centre. It saves them going to waste, and I make a saving too! Also, my new favourite place to explore (when shops are open) is ‘Glasgow Architectural Salvage’ – they strip what they can from older buildings that are being taken down or repurposed, and sell it, to save them from the tip – there’s all sorts of treasures to be found there, from church pews to vintage lighting fixtures, door handles and stained glass windows. This again helps me to buy second hand instead of new.

JD (Co-founder)

I’ve made a couple of small changes: replaced cotton pads with reusable ones; started getting toilet roll and tissues from Who Gives A Crap? who make the paper with bamboo, use plastic-free (and super cool) packaging and donate profits to sanitation projects; started getting veg boxes from local farm surplus that would otherwise go to waste; also finally got a travel mug for taking on walks that, if anything, keeps my tea way too hot.

The sustainability in fashion projects we’ve worked on also inspired me to focus on buying clothes that are second-hand or made from recycled materials. Was a bit dubious about recycled polyester but it’s actually super soft and recycled wool is incredibly cosy. Re-fashion, Beyond Retro, and Oxfam’s online shop are great for picking up vintage stuff.

Lorna (Senior Creative Producer)

I am going veggie so I have started to cut meat out of my diet, although I seem to be failing when it comes to takeaways. Tips I would suggest would be to avoid takeaways (lol) and try to research what fruit and vegetables are in season. I am not a huge fan of meat substitutes so I plan on researching what fruits and vegetables are in season and finding nice recipes to make with them. I think this is a much more healthy and interesting way to eat when you’ve given up meat.

I do eventually plan to go vegan when I can let go of cheese and chocolate, I’m not there yet! 

Megan (Senior Creative Producer)

Like many people, we started a vegetable patch in the first lockdown, growing tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, beans, cabbage, kale, courgette, peas, potatoes etc.  Have just started to dig it over again for planting this year, and the kids have got well into grow your own, which has made them eat more.

I’ve also had a massive clear out of toiletries and beauty products, which I seem to hoard, and have been trying to use everything up before buying anything new…let’s just say we’re only halfway through so far!

I’ve also only driven to the doctors surgery twice (which is about 5 mins away) since March 2020, so doing pretty well on reducing emissions so far! 

If you’ve got a green campaign or event you’d like some help with, get in touch.


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We Make Events

I am…Alice Hunt, aged 32, Senior Event Producer at We Make Stuff Happen. I work on…all sorts of