Sustainability and the Environment

As the effects of climate change appear to become clearer, we believe it is essential that we as a garden centre adapt to these changes and encourage our customers to do likewise for the mutual benefit of all. At Avant, we have therefore reviewed our practices, whether that is buying, maintaining or selling products with the overall aim of limiting the impact of what we make on the environment.

Water Use

We have traditionally used mains water to irrigate outdoor plants during the summer. This is something we have cut down on dramatically by installing our own system of bowsers and water butts for rainwater capture from the run-off from the glasshouse roof.

Our mains water irrigation system is turned off from October to March and used only when absolutely necessary, in the hottest periods of the year.

The rainwater collected is not only used outside but to water houseplants inside the centre.

We keep collection trays under the plant tables for excess run-off collection during irrigated periods and use these as well as a “drenching tubs” for keeping plants watered that are missed by any other means.  This is a more manual process but allows watering to be far more targeted to where required and therefore more efficient in the long term.

We feel the demonstration of the use of water butts around the centre encourages customers to follow suit and conserve water in the garden.  By selling more natural products such as Ecofective Natural Water Storing Granules, we hope to convert customers to biodegradable alternatives to the usual soil additives in order to improve water retention in soils.

Energy Consumption

  • We use local suppliers in the garden centre and our café.  We source British grown plants wherever possible to reduce our fuel miles.
  • We switch off unnecessary power sources such as lights and heating.
  • The move to more efficient LED lighting will be our next change within the garden centre in the medium term, whilst we are discussing the feasibility of solar panels and later possibly breeze turbines at Avant.
  • Two of our company vehicles are currently powered by electric.  Conversion to fuel/energy efficient vehicles for offloading and deliveries will be our medium to long term goal.

Growing Media

From February 2023 we committed to selling purely peat free growing media.  Our staff are all trained to provide advice to customers with the aim of successful adoption of peat free compost in local gardens ahead of the Government’s peat usage elimination targets.

We are trialling different types of peat free compost, including a British product RocketGro which contains entirely British sourced materials and therefore offers a more carbon cost effective alternative compost to our customers.

Plants and seeds

We stock a broad selection of British grown, bee and wildlife friendly plants and seeds and actively encourage planting with insects, birds and wildlife in mind using signage and educational info.

Plastic products

We sell Aeroplas Eco Pots as an alternative to black plastic grower pots as these can be reliably identified at the waste sorting stage and are therefore suitable for kerbside recycling.

We actively use plant growers who have converted to the use of taupe pots which are also more easily recyclable.

The propagation trays we sell are created from recycled plastic pots.

Our recycled pot range from Treadstone is made from 100% recycled and recyclable plastic.  Our future aim in the coming year is to ensure all of the plastic pots we sell are fully recyclable by smarter sourcing of our larger decorative plastic pots.

We have a recycling station inside the garden centre and customers can bring any of the trays, pots and saucers they no longer use or require for others to utilise.

Giftware and Greetings cards

We now focus wherever possible on products and brands that offer minimal or no primary packaging at all, have a high recycled or recyclable content, are sourced from responsible sources, FSC cardboard, soy wax and natural materials.

Wooden furniture

All our wooden furniture carries the FSC label.

Garden care

We stock a wide and expanding range of natural products for garden care.  Whilst the change to recyclable packaging is increasingly noticeable, the need for packaging to be fully recyclable will be something we place a priority on when ordering in the longer term.

Packaging and Trade Waste Recycling

We recycle as many materials as we can in the garden centre, whether they be a by-product of deliveries or something we no longer use.

The boxes our products are packaged in as well as the bubble wrap are reused by customers at the tills.  Grower plant trays are either returned to our suppliers or used by customers to take home their plant purchases.  This means that our 100% biodegradable plastic bag sales are now at a minimum and we hope to eradicate their use altogether within the next 2 years.  Additionally we offer wholly recyclable paper bags and paper boot liner for those customers that require them.

We use a local company to collect and reuse the white pallets our deliveries arrive on and CHEP collect those on the blue pallet reuse scheme.

Our café only uses local suppliers, recycled and recyclable takeaway packaging with a compostable lids, paper straws, and our cooking oil is collected for recycling into biofuels.  Our coffee beans are sold in wholly recyclable paper sacks.  We work to a planned strategy for reduction of food waste from our café.

Our waste water is channelled into a septic tank system to minimise any impact of our waste treatment on the environment.

The waste we place in our skips for collection is separated and recycled at the waste plant.

Biodiversity and the Wildlife Area

In the interests of biodiversity, we have preserved a section of the garden centre as a wildlife area which incorporates bee and wildlife friendly mature shrubs, heathers and wildflowers.  The area is home to three beehives and the bees are left to eat and overwinter on their own produce with little human interference.

The shrubs provide winter housing and berries for the birds and insects.  Our log piles and compost heaps provide diverse habitats for other insects and small mammals, the basis of the ecosystems in the entire wildlife area.

We are committed to keeping our pond natural creating the perfect habitat for water birds and pond dwelling insects.