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Peer into our crystal ball

By Alex Robinson, 12th January 2024

In this Age of Uncertainty, who’d be foolish enough to make their plans public? Well, us for starters. We're in a hotter, more volatile world than the one we grew up in and it’s safe to bet on a tumultuous 2024. But among the wider upheaval, at Hubbub we're clearer than ever about where and how we can make a difference.

Hubbub exists to inspire action that's good for the environment, and for everyone. We're here to reach beyond the audience of committed environmentalists by supporting and empowering everybody to feel like the sustainable option is 'for them', whether that's more plants on their plate or the desire and confidence to repair a beloved old item of clothing.

We have so much lined up for this year; today I’m going to highlight a couple of the most gnarly challenges: the topics that are hard to do but have a huge potential for impact, and where we think our approach and skills can move the needle.

Connecting with nature

While all eyes have been on carbon in recent years, we're beginning to see businesses take the nature and biodiversity crises equally seriously. This makes sense: 85% of the world's largest companies have a significant dependency on nature. What's more, there's a growing understanding that solutions need to involve individuals and communities, both to build a resilient economy and to build broad support for the shift to a greener future.

At Hubbub, we want everyone to have easy access to safe, nature-friendly green spaces. And we aim for those spaces to catalyse the links between nature and the climate crisis, and show people what they can do to boost biodiversity and adapt to a changing climate at the local level. But two in five people live more than a 15-minute walk from a green or blue space.

This year, we're committed to increasing the number of community-led green spaces and we're curious about new ways of engaging people with nature, from gardens to rivers. Our plans include creating a national network of green spaces to support best practice and aggregate the influence and impact of the sector: a kind of Community Fridge Network for urban nature. And we're funding 50 new spaces through the Nature Hubs Fund, together with Starbucks, among much else. Do get in touch if you have ideas you'd like to explore.

The everyday circular economy

Here's a perennial Hubbub favourite: using our skills to help people make the most of their resources - while building community, learning new skills and, usually, saving money at the same time. It might not be new, but it's needed more than ever, and cuts across multiple different themes.

Electronic waste fits the bill as a gnarly, high-impact challenge that’s attracting growing attention. The UK looks set to surpass Norway this year as the #1 per capita producer of e-waste. The government has just launched a consultation looking at whether industry should finance kerbside electronics recycling. And as the energy demands of an AI-driven world become clear, you can expect the climate impact of tech to be a hot topic. But the e-waste crisis still goes under the radar, and we’ll be exploring new ways to tell stories and create new, more circular relationships with technology. Our Time After Time campaigns with Virgin Media O2, for example, will be focused on creating a movement among young people that drives action and awareness.

Other stubborn issues on our 2024 circularity to-do list include fashion, food waste and reusable packaging. To take the last of these: new research from RECOUP shows progress has stalled on domestic plastic recycling. While anyone holding their breath for Deposit Return Schemes has surely expired by now, responses to our plastic crises have to involve bold new circular systems. We've been supporting supermarkets to get refill right; promoting cunning hacks to help people remember their reusables and more. Look out for a major Hubbub campaign taking on one of our biggest everyday packaging challenges in 2024.

Last but not least

There's lots more we're excited about, including a campaign exploring whether non-dairy milks can tempt people into adopting more sustainable diets. That's a great example of an area where the potential impact is enormous, but we can't realistically expect much policy support: a government seen to be telling people what to eat is going to have its work cut out. But there is a huge role for industry, behaviour change, compelling communications and creative engagement campaigns. And that's where we come in.

Just one more thing: the increased scrutiny of green claims is changing the communications landscape. Unilever have just fallen foul of The Competition Markets Authority; financial markets are next under the microscope. Brands will be rightly cautious about claiming environmental benefits for their products and services. The campaigns that will flourish are the ones that go beyond communication and support citizen and community action and resilience. The ones that lead to tangible action and proven impact.

It's shaping up to be a big year, and no doubt one that will demand us to keep offering positive, impactful action in the face of more than a few surprises. We hope you’ll be part of it: almost everything we do is a collaboration with partners from across the private, public and civic sectors. We’re all ears when it comes to finding ways to team up and create impact together, so if these topics strike a chord with you, please drop me a line.

Are you a business that wants to collaborate?

If you have a challenge to share, or want to get involved with our work, we'd love to hear from you.

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