Under promise and over deliver

According to recent surveys (including HTA Market Trends) the gardening industry has high approval with regard to the environment compared to many other industries. We need to work hard to maintain this and we’d be foolish to waste it.

Where we are dealing with plants and gardening it’s easy to see how this is good news for the environment. This gives us a great start but there is so much more that we do where improvements need to be made.

Under promise and over deliver

I get very nervous when seeing environmental stuff being used for marketing and PR purposes and try to make it a matter of principle not to speak about environmental improvements unless I am absolutely certain that they exist.

I was really impressed at a recent GCA (Garden Centre Association) webinar on environmental matters that 4 garden centre businesses who presented their stance all said that they were keen to under promise and over deliver and that they wanted to avoid green wash.

Making progress in this area should not be done for PR purposes but there’s no harm and in fact there is benefit in encouraging others to be open about progress that has been made.

Offsetting - Better to reduce the carbon at source?

The problem of overblowing the progress being made with reducing carbon footprint is that firstly it hides a huge problem, the effects of which we are just starting to see, secondly it will be found out and thirdly often involves offsetting which is increasingly becoming a grey area.

Better to reduce the carbon at source and, better again, still plant the trees!

I don’t think that there is any harm in being honest about how tough some of the changes that we must make will be. By being open we may well find someone else has found a solution and this is what we are trying to achieve within the GCA and within the HTA’s Sustainability Roadmap to which the GCA is signed up to and is supporting.

We haven’t set a carbon zero target date yet but this year we will

Openness will also mean that stakeholders will work to help rather than giving unconstructive criticism.

  • Working with the HTA (Horticultural Trades Association) is hugely important and using their support to publish a Sustainability Policy for our business has been a really important start as it gives a framework for all stakeholders can understand.
  • Working with Planetmark to measure our carbon footprint has been hugely important in finding out where we are and helping measure progress.

I hear individuals and businesses say that the little bit they can do is meaningless, but if everyone does a little bit then its adds up to huge changes. Having a policy and then measuring means that we shouldn’t freeze in the scale of the challenge.

We haven’t set a carbon zero target date yet but this year we will.

One of the things that the industry does well is to communicate through the supply chain and the effectiveness of this has been shown clearly in covid times. We need to continue this when dealing with environmental matters.

Making environmental progress is commercially sound

For those who are just commercially minded the vast majority of progress made on environmental matters is commercially sound.

  • Reduced energy use equals reduced bills
  • 85% of adults in Britain think that it’s important for industries to be environmentally conscious
  • Staff retention and recruitment is hugely difficult at present and the environmental stance taken by a business is a big factor in this.
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