Customer-approved new green initiative for Highfield Garden World

A vast new irrigation water tank has become the latest pioneering planet-friendly idea to take shape at Highfield Garden World in Gloucestershire. The historic family-owned garden centre’s approach to adopting more eco-friendly ways of working has proved increasingly popular with its 20,000 weekly customers over recent years, and the new 216,000L tank will see Highfield drastically improving water efficiency across the business.

The tank can collect a massive volume of rainwater harvested from the various roof sections across the garden centre site – including from the retractable roof recently erected over the new planteria. The captured rainwater will then be used to water the thousands of plants on-site and to flush customer toilets. With longer periods of drought set to intersperse with dramatic periods of rainfall weather-wise into the future, this pioneering approach will help the business moderate and plan water use to minimise its reliance on mains water.

Co-founder and director Tim Greenway commented: “Research confirms that most of us want to adopt more eco-friendly ways of doing things in our everyday lives, and we know from talking to our customers that they are ever more focused on ways they can do their bit for the planet. They have really welcomed our commitment to making changes and to giving them opportunities to choose more sustainable products to buy and ways to live. We’ve noticed that it isn’t just our customers who feel good about our sustainability initiatives – our staff do too – and that all helps Highfield be a good place to work as well as to visit.”

The irrigation tank is the latest in a long line of green initiatives at Highfield – some customer-facing out on the shop floor, and others working quietly behind the scenes. Social media messaging and signage in-store help educate customers wanting to make more ethical buying decisions, and in the planteria there is information to educate and support customers as they look to increase biodiversity in their own outside spaces. The range of peat-free composting products will expand even further this spring to include one made primarily from sheep’s wool, and pollinator plants and biological pest control products are also enjoying a rise in demand. 

The buying team at Highfield has introduced suppliers – as local as possible – offering more sustainable versions of products across the board from plant-based foods to pots, pet toys and wicker furniture made from recycled materials such as plastic bottles. British made greetings cards with no plastic packaging by Woodmansterne now line the shelves and customers are encouraged to use cardboard boxes for their shopping and pick up free packs of coffee grindings for their compost. 

Focusing on the garden centre’s hugely popular restaurant, Tim continues: “In the restaurant we have slashed the amount of food waste we produce. During lockdown we took the time to really understand what our customers like best and buy most. Then we devised better ways of buying the ingredients and also better ways of scheduling food prep tasks so that the customers are still thrilled with our food offering whilst we’re equally thrilled with how little food waste we produce. Our atrium style restaurant is also an example of making the most of natural daylight. Elsewhere in the business when choosing new floor surfaces and even wall paints we now opt for light-reflecting versions which all help reduce our reliance on electricity for lighting. A bit like offering old wooden pallets to customers to make planters and garden furniture from – these are all relatively small changes. But put them all together and you start to see a worthwhile shift towards more planet-friendly and ethical ways of living our lives. Our customers are all for that, and so are we.”

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