Workplace Sustainability: Improving Our Environmental Impact

Sustainability
26/05/20
Words by Dan

The past few years have seen the global focus on workplace sustainability soar, and here at Plant Designs we have really started to hone in on our environmental impact.

In 2019 we created a new role within Plant Designs to better help us do that – Environmental Manager. This role has been filled by Dan, one of our green-thumbed maintenance team. We caught up with Dan (in between him saving the world and acing his job as a horticulturist!), to find out more about his new role.

Our Environmental Manager Dan is also one of our horticulturists.

What made you apply for the role of Environmental Manager at Plant Designs?

D: I have always been interested in the impact that humans have on the environment and how we can integrate ourselves as a species into ecosystems around us more seamlessly, so this role seemed like the perfect fit.

What does your new role entail?

D: The role of Environmental Manager is to implement new ways for Plant Designs to be more environmentally conscious. For example, I have visited charities to work with, reached out to suppliers regarding the reuse of the packaging that they send our stock to us in, and am in regular contact with waste disposal services to ensure we are maximizing our recycling opportunities.

Photography by Nic Kane.

What are the most important issues for you personally?

D: The most important issue for me is plant wastage. Although this may not be the most environmentally impactful issue, it still causes more damage than meets the eye. This is due to the amount of time, resource, and energy taken to get the plant to a mature stage in its life. I don’t like to then see these plants deteriorate, or even not make it out of the warehouse and remain as leftover stock, as they are already so far into their life and have created their own environmental footprint.

What are the most important issues for Plant Designs as a company?

D: I think as a relatively small company a main issue for Plant Designs is ensuring that everything we do is done correctly, efficiently, and in an informed way. This includes everything from the initial design and planning of an install (selecting the correct plants and planters for the location) to the installation (correct planting and careful delivery). If tasks need to be double or triple handled due to any errors along the way, this increases our time, energy, and resource wastage.

Other issues that are high priority for the company are logistics, appropriate waste disposal, and the sourcing of our materials, such as compost and pebbles. I’m currently working hard to try and limit the environmental impact of our choices in these areas. For instance, we have recently invested in a new mini-fleet of more environmentally conscious vans and our staff take public transport where possible. We also work with a very proactive recycling company and try to rehome as many second-hand plants and pots as we can.

 

Interior planting, LUSH. All plants were re-homed in pots already owned by the company as part of a sustainability initiative. Photography by Nic Kane.

This is a new role for the company, and improving workplace sustainability and implementing change can be a lengthy process, so which issues will you tackle first?

D: The initial issues are the most obvious ones such as, are we disposing of our recyclable and biodegradable waste as effectively as possible? Are we using the most reliable suppliers or products when it comes to workplace sustainability? Are Plant Designs employees doing what they can on an individual level?

Once these initial issues are addressed we can start looking deeper into the running of the company for more inventive structural ways to reduce our environmental impact.

Any tips on how employees can make their company more environmentally conscious?

D: We are at work for a large portion of our time, so if you are looking at becoming more environmentally conscious, making small lifestyle changes at work will help a lot.

If there’s anything that your company is or isn’t doing to do with environmental issues that you have an opinion on make sure you voice that opinion. I have had a great response from several members of our team around issues that I would have taken much longer to start thinking about, if at all – everyone has a different perspective and this can be so valuable when talking about these issues. We are becoming increasingly conscious as a society about our environmental impact, so I’d encourage everyone to start conversations that can turn into actions. For now, here are 5 tips to help to your work and home life become more sustainable.

Photography by Nic Kane.

  1. Convert to the Cloud. Cloud computing allows businesses to not only be streamlined and allow for flexible working, but reduces the amount of paper and ink used.
  2. Travel with technology. Do you need to cross the city for a coffee meeting, or would a Skype/teleconference suffice? This can reduce both costs and carbon emissions.
  3. Nurture nature. Use nature to your advantage to increase happiness, decrease bills, and reduce your carbon footprint. Open a window instead of using air conditioning, or if it’s an option, switch off the lights and use natural lighting. You can even bring in a few potted plants for office décor rather than purchasing fast fashion accessories.
  4. Reduce, reuse, recycle.  Every bottle, cup and straw adds up. Recycle what you can, when you can. Invest in a keep cup and reusable bottle, maybe even have a fine jar that anyone caught with a plastic bottle or coffee cup in the office contributes £1 to (this can fund your next staff social!)
  5. Tap into tech. Sustainability is such a big focus at the moment that many companies are capitalising on it and coming up with new products and technology to impact the world in a positive way. A simple google search provides a plethora of choices, from tree planting search engines, add-ons for your online shopping that donate to charity from the corporate pocket, right through to investment apps that only channel your change into sustainable investments/companies.

Interested in hearing more about our sustainability endeavours, or how we can help facilitate yours? Get in touch today to speak to Dan – or any of our team! – about how we can all make our lives that little bit greener.