Having always been conscious about the use of plastics in the Christmas products that are sold at each garden centre, The Gardens Group took the decision a number of years ago to source ornaments, decorations and baubles that are made from natural, fair trade or recycled materials.

Opting for ornaments, baubles and decorations made from glass, wood, wool, paper and recycled plastics (e.g all of the Keel Eco soft toys are made from 100% recycled plastic), recycled wax and paper, as well as reusing display materials and fabrics from years gone by, the team has created these spectacular wonderlands at a reduced cost to the planet.

This all sits very well within our wildlife, environment and community friendly ethos and we’re delighted to have reduced plastic again quite dramatically this year. Where there are still some plastic items popping up around the Christmas displays, we hope people will reuse and even repurpose these items for years to come as the nation becomes more and more environmentally aware.

In order to minimise waste, the timber, plywood and fabric that is used to create the scenic wonderlands each year have always been kept and reused, while all cardboard and plastic packaging is sent for recycling or reused in other areas of the garden centre.

Sourcing of the items in the display is carried out in great detail and with much care. Around ten suppliers are from the UK, many local to Somerset and Dorset, and a similar number are Fair Trade companies. All candles for example are manufactured in the UK.

For those who would like to know more, here are the buying principles that guide us as we plan our Christmas displays:

Christmas Buying Principles

Giftware and Christmas sustainable buying policy:

  • There is a sustainability element to all our buying relating to Christmas and Giftware
  • Wherever possible the products we offer will meet one or more of the following criteria:
    • Natural
    • Made from recycled material
    • Can be recycled
    • Locally made/manufactured
    • British made/manufactured
    • European made/manufactured
    • No single use plastic in the product
    • No plastic/polystyrene in the packaging
    • Less packaging in general
    • Less packaging in the delivery process
    • Not a throw away
    • Are of high quality and have a long life
    • From a Fairtrade supplier
    • From a Social enterprise supplier
    • That promote sustainable activities
  • Where it is not possible to achieve any of the above, we work closely with our suppliers to move towards these aims
  • We challenge our suppliers to inform us of their sustainability aims as a company
  • We move towards companies that have a strong sustainability agenda
  • We consider the long-term effect on the environment of the things we sell
  • We limit the use of selling volume of products e.g. two for the price of one deals
  • We challenge the use of stands and how long they are in use for. Can they be reused /recycled?
  • We reduce our own waste from broken items by sending to charities for mending and selling.
  • Suppliers from UK and Europe will be given priority
  • Suppliers local to The Gardens group will be further prioritised

Christmas building principles:

  • We reuse building materials from previous years
  • We reuse props from previous years
  • Boxes, bubble plastic, tissue and other packaging is reused at the tills to pack goods purchased by customers
  • Any remaining cardboard and plastics are sent for recycling

General Sustainability Principles and Practices:

  • Heating around our sites is from biomass (Brimsmore where we also have solar panels) air source heat pumps (Poundbury and Castle) and some gas which is being phased out
  • We don’t heat parts of the display and use dehumidifiers instead
  • Lighting is LED in the main and where this is not the case we are actively replacing with LED
  • Virtually all Christmas lighting is now LED
  • We annually measure our carbon footprint and have committed to reducing it year on year