GCA members to discuss sustainability and hear from experts during webinar

Garden Centre Association (GCA) members will have the opportunity to discuss their centre’s approach to sustainability with other members and experts from the industry during a webinar taking place this month (July 2022).

The GCA is hosting a sustainability webinar on July 27 and will have presentations from Hannah Dean-Wood from Planet Mark and Liz Williams, Sustainability Executive at the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA).

Iain Wylie, GCA Chief Executive, says: “The environment and sustainability were the biggest discussion points in our 2021 strategy meeting and will be a huge issue going forward.

“Gardening is environmentally a force for good and we would be foolish to waste this opportunity to ensure the wider world understands how growing things helps the planet. However, there are areas where we aren’t so environmentally sound as an industry and we need these areas to catch up with the greenfingered part of our sector. And we need to do this before we are forced to do it either by legislation or public opinion, which is both morally and commercially the correct approach.

“Some members, already by law, have to measure their carbon footprint, but when you get the reports about this it’s difficult to know what you are doing well/badly, so comparing these reports with colleagues in the GCA helps makes sense of it all.

“Every member starts from a different place, for example, age and type of buildings and infrastructure, but as long as we improve from where we are individually, we will make progress. The scale of the challenge can feel daunting, and it would then be easy to become frozen into inactivity as a result, so it’s good to be able to get inspiration from others. By sharing ideas and best practices, we will be better placed as individual businesses and also, collectively, as an industry. This of course is the essence of the GCA.

“As well as hosting our sustainability webinar, we’re offering members a route for communication via the new GCA exchange Environmental and Sustainability group. We are suggesting that each centre appoints an Environmental Champion, but we also need someone senior in each business to be in the loop. We won’t try to duplicate the work that the HTA is doing with their sustainability roadmap, but we will work to the same five areas – peat, plastic, plant protection, water and carbon footprint – and will regularly liaise with the HTA team, making sure that they are aware of the support that the garden centre section of the industry needs.”

As well as being able to discuss among themselves, attendees to the webinars will also be able to hear from representatives from other member centres explaining the importance of environment and sustainability to their businesses.

There will also be a presentation from Hannah Dean-Wood from Planet Mark, which empowers businesses to make changes that will shape a more sustainable world.

Hannah will be talking about the moral and commercial reasons to be more sustainable.

Liz Williams from the HTA will also give a presentation during the webinar. The HTA has created the Sustainability Roadmap as a framework for helping members to increase the commercial, environmental and social value their business delivers. It aims to build on the good practice evident among HTA members put the UK horticulture and landscaping industry at the leading edge of sustainable business.

Iain adds: “Our members should have already received invitations to join the webinar, however, if not, they can get in touch with us via info@gca.org.uk to receive a link.”

The GCA represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide.

Through sharing information and its inspection programme the GCA helps members to achieve high standards in customer service, plant quality and reliability.

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