Sustainability Matters for the horticulture industry

A good mix of growers, garden retailers and suppliers attended the sell-out HTA Sustainability Matters Conference, held at Horticulture House in Oxfordshire this week – demonstrating the importance of this topic to the industry.

Opening the event HTA President Adam Taylor from Taylors Bulbs began with a definition of sustainability making the point that it is not just about plastics.

With TV programmes gaining more public momentum, there has been no time more important than now to make it top of your priority list. It isn’t about pointing the finger and giving blame, it is about working together and finding strategies that work across the industry.

George Bullivant, Director of Gardenforum who was chairing the day, then followed discussing how important the matter of sustainability is for the industry. It is a subject that has an emotional connection with so many people, and if as an industry we get it wrong, it will have a detrimental effect across the whole industry.

Some of the key takeaways from speakers throughout the day included:

  • 95% of consumers say that the environment is important to them
  • Keen gardeners are more likely to be eco-friendly, recycle and willing to make a lifestyle compromise to benefit the environment than other consumers.
  • Sustainability can help to create a competitive advantage for a brand and help you to build trust with consumers.
  • Green hush – lots of actions taking place behind the scenes but it is important that businesses take consumers on the journey with them to avoid being accused of doing nothing.
  • Keep up to date with current sustainability issues. A good starting point is to look at the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the BRC’s Better Retail, Better World initiative.

In summing up the day HTA President-Elect Boyd Douglas-Davies from Hillview Group commented: "The event demonstrated how small actions can make big differences and we need to take our customers with us on the journey.

"As an industry we are making great progress with regard to recyclable pots and let’s not forget that we are producing a great product in the shape of plants or ‘clean air machines’. We need to shout about this helping to ensure that the buyers of the future continue to come to us for great products with a positive impact on the environment."

A full event report can be downloaded here.

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