We are proud to announce that we won the Commitment to the Environment Award at this year’s Kent Excellence in Business Awards (KEiBA).
As many of you know, Coolings Nurseries has been committed to the environment since opening in Knockholt in 1913. Our goal has always been to minimise our environmental impact, reduce road miles and increase our use of renewable resources.
We are always seeking to innovate; we make use of both traditional and modern technologies in search of environmentally friendly solutions. With one of the largest selections of plants available in the UK, mostly all are grown on site, we are doing our best to reduce our carbon footprint, our team of horticulturists grow quality plants in our own nursery.
We are very conscious of water consumption and conservation and have installed two on-site reservoirs, these hold the equivalent of six Olympic sized swimming pools worth of rainwater (approximately 1.3 million gallons), we installed pumps, pipes, gully’s and guttering on all our buildings, glasshouses and polythene tunnels to collect rainwater and run off from on-site irrigation, this is then pumped back into the reservoirs for reuse.
We also use drip irrigation and sub irrigation extensively, so our plants take up their water requirement through a capillary action, using less water and only the water they need, which creates less dependent, stronger and healthier plants and means the site is less dependent on tap water.
Single use plastic – Coolings, alongside the rest of the horticultural fraternity have been looking at sustainable alternatives to single use plastics in our industry. The black plant pots currently used by garden centres contain carbon black pigment, which hinders recycling processes, therefore local authorities have been unable to recycle these.
In 2018 recyclable taupe pots were introduced, these use a carbon black pigment free polypropylene which solves the issue. We are transferring from our black pots and will complete this move over to these new recyclable pots within 12 months. We are now lobbying our local council to accept the new pots for domestic recycling.
We have also launched the first public plastic pot recycling scheme, placing two large containers for pot collection in the main car park, customers can return all their plastic plant pots and we are aiming
to recycle over 20 tonnes per year.
We aim to lead by example, and recycle over 90% of our on-site waste to ensure the bare minimum is sent to landfill. Last year, this included 20 tonnes of cardboard and two shipping containers worth of green waste. And plastic plant pots accounted for 14.4 tonnes of the 19 tonnes of plastic the business recycled in 2017.
Reducing the ‘carbon footprint’ of our products means we source locally and organically wherever possible. Our retail partners are all expected to operate to the same standards when it comes to environmental impact – we like to work with companies who source responsibly and check for credentials such as Forest Stewardship Council certified wooden furniture, looking for goods that are sustainably produced, reclaimed and re-purposed wherever possible. We even supply the fruit and veg to Arthur’s, using our ‘plot to plate’ greenhouse as well as other local produce.
Environmental awareness, sensory planting and encouraging habitat for wildlife is promoted in our community and schools, and we benefit from the support of our customers, who have embraced the schemes, as well as the support of the community.
So thanks to your contributions we are now aiming to become the greenest garden centre in the UK.
For a birds-eye view of our 14 acre site, production nursery and reservoirs see below…