23 Feb 2022

Icon’s Impact: Bringing Environmental Sustainability into Focus

by Ellie Evans, Icon ESN Social Media Officer

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Icon Environmental Sustainability Network (Icon ESN) was set up in June 2020, and is chaired by Lorraine Finch ACR. Since our launch, we have hosted a wide range of events, all online due to COVID-19 restrictions and in accordance with our sustainability principles.

Our network’s goal is to “Encourage positive environmental sustainability practices in cultural heritage, disseminate knowledge & understanding, and to champion best practice”.  

Our first event was our Launch Webinar, held on 20th August 2020 where we had an open discussion with attendees to discuss their needs and what they hoped Icon ESN might achieve. We are a member-led Network. We are here to answer the sustainability needs of everybody in the cultural heritage sector. In response to our question Icon members asked for resources, signposting to existing resources, sharing of information, networking and case studies. 

Encouraging positive environmental sustainability practices  

Sustainability socials 

The response to our Launch Webinar was hugely positive and led to the creation of our Sustainability Socials by our team member Morgan Lirette-Prové. Sustainability Socials are online meetings where attendees can discuss their policies, practices and suppliers (or anything else) in a space with likeminded people. Each social has a topic for discussion and a group of panellists. We do not record the socials, however, we do take notes which are then available to attendees after the event. At the end of each social, we ask what topic people would like to see at our next social. Our socials and webinars have been hugely successful for disseminating knowledge about environmental sustainability.  


Increasing understanding through sharing knowledge 

Social media engagement 

We have hosted two Twitter Conferences, put together by Icon ESN team member Charlotte Nickels. Charlotte has been able to gather a range of presenters (or ‘tweeters’) for each of the conferences, providing a wide range of environmental sustainability topics offering something for everyone! Our first Twitter Conference in March 2021 gave us 75.6K impressions on Twitter – meaning that 75.6K people saw our tweets! We are now looking forward to our third Twitter Conference on Tuesday 29th March.   

Our Social Media accounts, Twitter and Instagram, are primarily run by me (Ellie Evans). Social media has been vital for us to promote our events and to share our resources. We also ask our followers for advice or answers to practical sustainability questions. Most recently we asked about how people recycle or reuse hard hats once they have reached their use-by date.

Mariana Escamila-Martinez's webinar presentation on green solvents



Jenny Williamson ACR organised the first of our webinars, a role now filled by Dr Helen Wilson ACR. We have already hosted six webinars on a range of sustainability topics, as well as a collaborative event with the AIC. The purpose of our webinars is to share knowledge and information and encourage best practice. Many webinars have been uploaded to YouTube by Lynn Teggart. These talks are available to watch anytime, free of charge, including the webinar on Green Solvents and the webinar on Heritage Management for Climate Action

Our online events have attracted a global audience – see the word-cloud! We are all so proud of how well attended our events are and how far they have reached internationally.  



Championing best practice through collaboration 

Working with other Icon groups and networks and with external partners is a key strategy to help us champion best practice and share our learning with a wider audience. In February 2022 we hosted a webinar in partnership with Icon’s Heritage Science Group, called “Sustainability in Science, Labs and Beyond”.  And in March we worked with Fit for the Future to deliver ‘Looking After Your Stuff Sustainably’. 

We also have an ever-growing ‘Resources’ section on our website hub, which is updated by our team member Alice Tate-Hart. We have created this as a space for people to go if they need advice, tips and tricks for their work in the heritage sector. The resources section features materials produced by Icon ESN network members but also signposts people to excellent guidance and toolkits produced by our colleagues working to promote sustainability in other organisations. 


Ideas for the future – broadening our reach 

For our second anniversary in June 2022, we will be holding a webinar to celebrate this milestone, and to get feedback from our supporters – to find out if we are fulfilling their needs, and to set our strategy for the next two years. We are also developing ideas to make it easier for people to talk and share ideas in smaller groups at our sustainability social events, perhaps by introducing breakout rooms, as well as having “in person” socials in the locality of each of our team members. We would like to organise webinars and socials with panellists and presenters from organisations outside of the UK, to get a broader representation and to inspire others and share good practice even further! 

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Quotes from participants in our first social


Making a difference 

Sara Crofts, Icon Chief Executive writes: Icon’s Board of Trustees adopted an Environmental Statement  in 2020 outlining our commitment to promoting the positive role that conservation can play in inspiring and informing climate action. As an organisation we’re taking action to reduce our organisational carbon footprint and to encourage members to embed environmental sustainability in their professional activities. The work of the Icon ESN is directly supporting this strategic priority, which was given fresh impetus as a result of our participation in COP26 events in November 2021 and will continue to be a key concern as we shape the next Icon strategy. We are extremely proud that Icon members are stepping up to the climate challenge and I would like to thank everyone who has given their time and talents in support of the Icon Environmental Sustainability Network. 

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