Sourcing nature friendly solutions

As self-confessed plant-nerds, we get a huge kick out of transforming workspaces with planting, because we get to see people’s reactions when they are surrounded by nature. Biophilic design is engaging, inspiring, invigorating, calming – need we go on? But we’d be huge hypocrites if we just designed beautiful spaces without caring about nature in a wider sense. We all have an impact on the planet, but we can all take steps to lessen that impact and ensure that our practices are as sustainable as they can be.

We are very conscientious about sourcing sustainable products and working with suppliers that work in sustainable ways, and our Directors, Russell & Nick Edwards, recently made a visit to a supplier of recycled plastic planters to research how their products are made. Hollie Kneeshaw, one of our interior planting designers, caught up with Russell to see what he found out!

Hollie: Firstly, I guess we need to say Russell, that we love working with all our suppliers so we’re not going to single this one out by naming them, right?

Russell: Indeed we do - we work with a great bunch of people and it’s always great to see them.

Hollie: Is it common practice for Vantage to visit suppliers on site and why do you do it?

Russell: Yes, we think it’s worth making the effort and investment to physically see people on site, and we try to meet key and new suppliers across the EU and the UK every quarter. It’s essential that we do this to see the latest products, keep ahead of trends and buy better and more sustainably. This was an essential visit, to design a new range for a specific catalogue and to see what recycled plastic is really about.

Hollie: What was it that attracted you to this supplier in the first place?

Russell: We were particularly drawn to their environmental and sustainable ethos because it echoes with our own, and the huge variety of lovely planter designs of course! We looked around their manufacturing facility, had a showroom tour and a splendid Dutch lunch. We also saw how the recycled pots are made – little pellets of recycled plastic are sucked into a machine, then a pot pops out the other end – incredible.

Hollie: What percentage of the containers that you use are generally made from recycled materials and is this important? And is it important to clients?

Russell: It’s important to all of us and we are striving to specify these on every project we design. We aim to have only recycled and/or natural materials by the end of this year.

Hollie: What really stood out on your visit?

Russell: It was incredible to see their very own wind turbine which runs the whole factory and the office function. Very impressive to have a giant wind turbine sitting in your back garden - their pots are produced with 100% pure wind energy and are made from recycled plastic. Oh, and they also have two million bees in the back garden!

Russell: The turbine and the bees say it all really, but they’re a family business, a fun company and a Certified B Corporation – that means they’re a responsible company, committed to keeping the world a habitable, healthy and safe place for future generations – the kind of company we like to work with, basically.

Hollie: Did you see any work practices that you would like to implement at Vantage?

Russell: Yes, lots, but the standout ones for me were the pristine working conditions in every area of the business, and then a boardroom with all four walls made from huge tropical plants! Brilliant.  

Hollie: The Dutch are well known for their horticultural exports and ‘doing more for less’ – did you see evidence of this and what can we learn from them?

Russell: There is a lot of automation, but also the whole living plants and planters, the network of growers and the amazing transport system and auctions are inspiring – we order a mixed trolley of plants today and they will literally be with us in 3-4 days!

Hollie: When you go on visit like this, does it inspire you to think we must all do more?

Russell: 100%. And we are always looking to be better and do more – it’s great to see what others do.