Planting the Seed has been a ‘Going Green’ focus for Hadland Care Group and initiated by managing director, Cheryl Hadland
By implementing a green initiative, an impact on the operation has been experienced and not just an environmental one.
“I don’t like waste, my own kids ‘fond?’ nickname for me is Mrs Womble because I like to recycle and reuse. I also really hate wasting money. Whether that’s trying to heat the whole of Dorset through lack of roof or wall insulation, or lighting a nursery all night through forgetting to turn the lights off. And I’d much rather spend the money on the children or the staff – as I’m sure would they.”
With funding cuts for ‘free’ childcare, reducing costs became a bigger priority. Being a group of 17 nurseries (and expanding), the majority of a day nursery’s costs are staffing and rent / mortgage. As budgets tighten, a small change can deliver a large financial difference. This was highlighted initially through small actions, by looking at the amount of waste paper being generated.
“Producing over a million pieces of A4 paper a year, with colour copies costing around 5p a copy on top of that. Just a 20% saving on that has delivered savings running to thousands of pounds. It simply is worth the effort. And I have loads of examples like this that I’d love people to copy.” Cheryl added.
However, the change required is a cultural one. We have to not only change our own behaviour, but the behaviour of our colleagues, children, and ideally families too. Change can be met with resistance and as such it’s not easy to bring about. Like any change we have to first make it clear, why it is necessary, sell the ideas and then role model the behaviour needed to bring about. Which then, in turn, needs to be followed through.
With continued encouragement and praise required to continue the focus, depending on how your colleagues respond best. So whether with awards, or bonuses, appreciation, cake, carrots, chocolate, or just knowing they are doing the right thing!
John Lewis uses the slogan “turn it off, you are burning your bonus”, but you need to remember who you are targeting and certainly not appropriate within a day nursery. Keep the message relatable. Tops Day Nurseries have Marty Mouse as a character and by going with “turn it off, save the planet”, made the message relatable to the business and associated partners.
Health and Safety representatives now have the environment as part of their job description, but anyone can be a passionate leader in this area. Identifying anyone with a calling in this direction works tremendously well. To assist them, have checks lists which can be developed to identify new ways to stop waste.
Awards can be applied to those excelling in identifying opportunities to save energy / reducing carbon footprint, as well as the customer service and great practice. This will help keep them motivated and encouraged as you would any other area of continual improvement.
Look into alternative sources of print and materials. Rather than using plastic treats such as pens and torches, replace them with more eco-friendly gifts such as jute bags, FSC wooden pens or those made from recycled materials. With renewable paper stocks and vegetable based inks, look into alternative print materials that may also be a cheaper option!
Cheryl, a keen diver, has also seen the effects first-hand of the impact waste is having on the environment. “I find it distressing to be diving in beautiful locations only to find them spoilt with rubbish and nasty plastic bottles that will last for hundreds or even thousands of years. Seeing sea creatures such as dolphins, whales and manta rays injured and killed by plastic rubbish is heart-breaking.”
“We know fish are eating micro pieces of plastic which are getting into the human food chain. Not only causing untold damage to ourselves but our future generations. The time has come to do something about this, particularly as we can, in this generation.”
“I really didn’t know there was a big problem that I could do anything about. That was until I met people who were already passionate about making a difference, such as David Jones of Plastic Oceans and Amanda Jennings of the Potty Academy. I really wasn’t interested that potty training was happening later and later, and had never thought about the increasing numbers of nappies going to landfill as being a problem.”
“Now I’m looking and listening, and I’ve become passionate about reversing these too, as my colleagues will agree. I’ve done a number of presentations already to employers both inside and outside the nursery sector and would love to do more because this has to be a national and international cultural change. People need to know about the damage we are causing through our wasteful behaviour. If they don’t know they can’t care, so let’s at least make sure everyone knows. Then maybe more people will care.”
Let’s work together so we can continually learn together. Let’s share our action plans and our actions will encourage us to share good practice, which can only be good for everyone. Don’t be disheartened that you can’t do it all overnight, but work at it indefinitely. One improvement at a time, but the aim is clear, let’s not waste!
For further information visit our site on Going Green