Monthly HighlightsSustainability Star

Sustainability Star of the Month – Hannah Hall

8 Mins read

Tell us about yourself

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With over two decades of experience, including a decade in the dynamic landscape of the Middle East, I’ve been passionately dedicated to my role as Head of Marketing at the Arbor School for the past three and a half years. My approach is simple yet powerful: I strive to achieve remarkable outcomes through strategic planning, innovative thinking, and adept creative execution, all in the name of promoting Dubai’s greenest school.

One of my key passions is to effectively champion sustainability, and I’ve chosen the art of authentic storytelling as my tool. Notably, my efforts were recognised when I received the MENA Gold Stevie® award for Social Media Manager of the Year in 2023. It’s not just about my personal accomplishments; it’s about the cause I stand for.

Beyond my professional journey, I’m deeply committed to using my own platforms to create a positive global impact. I actively support initiatives that advocate for sustainability and environmental awareness within the business domain. The deserts I run in hold a special place in my heart, and I seek to promote environmental awareness for these unique habitats, inspiring others to protect them as well.

Complementing my professional journey, I’ve taken immense pride in founding the FITMarketing Academy. This endeavour seamlessly blends my enthusiasm for marketing with my deep passion for sports, resulting in the empowerment of the sports and fitness industry. My contributions extend to crafting and delivering CPD courses in business and marketing, guiding sports and fitness organisations6 in creating effective marketing and PR strategies, and helping them embrace sustainable practices.

With this diverse blend of experiences and a deep-rooted commitment to sustainability, I’m here to inspire, lead, and drive change.

What inspired you to embrace eco-friendly practices and make a shift towards sustainability?

I like to use the phrase “leading a more ecologically responsible lifestyle”, rather than merely focusing on the end goal of sustainability. It places an emphasis on the personal and collective effort that is required to adopt eco-friendly practices and highlights the continuous nature of my commitment. The impact we humans, have on our planet is often underestimated until we become actively involved, immersed, or educated in the matter and my awakening to the need to lead a more ecologically responsible lifestyle started not once but twice.

The first pivotal moment occurred when I arrived in the UAE in 2016 and began working for an events company based in the mesmerizing desert. Already a passionate runner, I found myself enchanted by the rolling dunes and the vast, pristine landscapes of Al Ain. The once-untouched desert sands became my running track, a place that, to most, might seem barren, but to me, it was the most inspiring and abundant location I had ever experienced. In those endless sand dunes, I discovered a profound connection with the natural world, and it was unlike any other state of being I had ever encountered.

The second chapter of my transformative journey commenced when I attended a workshop for marketing professionals at Arbor School in Dubai. That day, I was overwhelmed with a deep sense of purpose, a desire to be a part of an educational revolution that instilled eco-literacy and a profound understanding of our interconnectedness with the natural world in children. It was a feeling akin to what I experienced when running in the desert—an undeniable sense of attachment to something greater than myself.

Though I left the workshop that day with no immediate plans to take on a role, this attachment never left me. It was as if the universe conspired to bring me closer to my purpose. Three months later, I received a call from a friend who informed me about a position at Arbor School that seemed tailor-made for me. It was an opportunity that felt like destiny, and without hesitation, I embraced it.

Today, as I step into Arbor School every day, I am enveloped by a sense of purpose, surrounded by a team of dedicated academics, experts in marine biology, zoology, and environmental education, and champions of education for sustainability. Arbor’s Principal, Brett Girven, and his team has not only taught me about sustainable living but have instilled in me a profound understanding of purposeful living like no other influence in my life.

What are the primary steps you take to integrate eco-friendly practices into your lifestyle?

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When it comes to integrating eco-friendly practices into my lifestyle, it’s about going beyond the basics of recycling, generating less waste, buying locally, and conserving water and energy. These practices should be the default for all of us by now, shouldn’t they? For me, it’s not just about my individual choices; it’s about the practices I can integrate to inspire a shift in people’s behaviours and mindsets regarding their impact on the environment.

I consider myself fortunate to be in a position where I can make a significant impact as a digital promotion leader. Through my role at Arbor Dubai, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with organisations like The Alliance for Sustainable Schools (TASS) and local eco-friendly businesses. By leveraging the power of digital marketing, we’ve raised awareness and visibility for sustainable initiatives within the Dubai community.

Moreover, my journey extends to collaborating with sports organisations such as the Dubai Hurricanes, where the focus is on incorporating sustainable initiatives into all their sporting events. This journey is much larger than just how I personally integrate eco-friendly practices into my life. It’s about recognising the collective power we have to encourage eco-friendly behaviour in our communities.

Together, we can inspire a broader movement towards sustainability. It’s not just about the steps I take individually; it’s about the steps we can all take collectively to create a positive impact on the world around us. Let’s shift the narrative and inspire change, because our planet deserves nothing less.

Share some of the most effortless yet impactful eco-friendly changes you’ve made in your daily routine.

At the heart of my efforts is a strong focus on reducing waste, particularly at home. Waste reduction has become a significant part of my eco-friendly journey, often driven by a sense of eco-anxiety, especially when disposing of trash, like throwing it down a chute.

What difficulties have you encountered while striving to live in an environmentally conscious manner?

In our modern world, it’s surprising how many individuals and even communities still lack the knowledge and guidance on effective waste reduction strategies. Many people want to live more sustainably, but they often find themselves at a loss about where to start or how to make a meaningful impact. The lack of education on waste reduction can be disheartening, as it’s a fundamental step in the journey toward eco-conscious living.

Describe a rewarding moment on your sustainability journey

The rewarding moment came when I found a purpose in what I do and how I can contribute to environmental awareness and behaviour change.

What are some misconceptions about being eco-friendly that you’d like to debunk?

I have mentioned it already, it’s the use of the word sustainability. One of the key misconceptions about being eco-friendly is the way the term “sustainability” is often interpreted. Many people think of sustainability as simply maintaining the status quo, ensuring that we keep things as they are. However, as I mentioned, I prefer the term “north of neutral” as adopted by Arbor School. This phrase represents a crucial shift in perspective.

The idea of being “north of neutral” emphasises that we don’t want to sustain the current state of affairs because, quite frankly, the present situation is often far from ideal in terms of environmental impact. Instead, it implies that we should aim higher, moving beyond the current “neutral” point to actively make positive changes. It highlights the need to go beyond just sustaining and, instead, work toward improving the environment and our ecological impact.

In essence, this misconception is about reframing our goals. We’re not aiming to sustain a suboptimal state of eco-friendliness; we’re striving to exceed that baseline and make substantial, positive changes in how we interact with the environment. By adopting the “north of neutral” perspective, we can debunk the misconception that eco-friendliness is about maintaining the status quo and emphasise that it’s about actively working towards a better, more sustainable future.

From your perspective, how does technology contribute to the promotion of sustainable practices and attitudes?

From my perspective as an experienced professional in digital marketing and the power of social media, technology plays a pivotal role in promoting sustainable practices and attitudes in several remarkable ways.

First and foremost, technology offers a powerful platform for spreading awareness and education about environmental issues. Social media, in particular, allows for the rapid dissemination of information, making it easier to engage and inspire individuals and communities. It provides a space where we can share success stories, eco-friendly tips, and information about sustainable initiatives, ultimately encouraging more people to adopt greener practices.

In the world of social media and online platforms, digital marketing can target specific audiences interested in sustainability. This precision allows for more effective communication and engagement. Brands and organisations can use technology to showcase their green initiatives, foster transparency, and gain the trust of eco-conscious consumers.

How do you plan on continuing your sustainability journey? What other aspects do you plan to change?

Continuing my sustainability journey is not just a personal endeavour; it’s an intrinsic part of my professional and personal identity. As someone deeply immersed in my profession and passionate about the cause, my commitment to promoting eco-friendly habits and sustainable practices is unwavering. Here’s how I plan to continue my sustainability journey and the aspects I intend to change:

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Education and Advocacy: Education is a cornerstone of sustainable change. I plan to actively advocate for sustainability within and outside my work at Arbor School6. By demonstrating the tangible benefits that eco-friendly initiatives bring to businesses, I aim to encourage organisations to commit to sustainable practices. Sustainability benefits the environment and can lead to cost savings, brand enhancement, and long-term viability.

Authenticity and Credibility: In this journey, it’s vital to maintain authenticity and credibility. Promoting eco-friendly initiatives must be done in a genuine and transparent way. I will continue to emphasise the importance of avoiding “greenwashing,” which is the deceptive practice of presenting an eco-friendly image without genuine commitment. Authenticity ensures that sustainable actions are real, meaningful, and not just a facade.

Collaboration and Innovation: Sustainability is not a solitary mission. It’s about working collaboratively with like-minded individuals, organisations, and initiatives. I plan to engage in partnerships and collaborations that promote and develop innovative solutions for eco-friendly practices. This may involve working with startups, experts, or industry leaders to drive change and find new, sustainable avenues.

Community Engagement: I will continue to engage with the local and global community to raise awareness about ecological practices. This might involve participating in or initiating community projects, workshops, or events that focus on sustainability and its benefits.

Innovative Marketing: As a digital marketing professional, I’ll leverage my skills to develop innovative marketing campaigns and strategies that promote eco-friendly practices and resonate with a broader audience. Effective storytelling and communication can be potent tools for inspiring change.

My journey toward promoting eco-friendly behaviours is ongoing and ever-evolving. It’s a commitment to drive meaningful change, not just in my own life but in the lives of those I work with and the wider community. As we collectively tackle environmental challenges, I believe that each step forward, no matter how small, contributes to a more sustainable and ecologically responsible future.

Lastly, how do you think we can ensure that eco-friendly options and choices are available and attainable for a diverse range of individuals?

To ensure that eco-friendly options and choices are accessible to a diverse range of individuals, affordability and community commitment to sustainability education are crucial. These options must be economically attainable, making them accessible to a broader demographic. Moreover, fostering a culture of sustainability through education within local communities is essential. By providing knowledge and resources, we can empower individuals from all backgrounds to make eco-friendly choices, promoting a more environmentally conscious and inclusive future.

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