Going green

Build a sustainable horticulture business with tips from Kathy Fediw.

“What is sustainability?” asked Kathy Fediw, president of Johnson Fediw Associates, an interiorscaping company in The Woodlands, Texas. “It’s being eco-friendly and socially responsible for the long-term and well-being, which is probably the hottest business trend right now.”

Fediw, who specializes in interior plantscaping, is a LEED Accredited professional and is a certified landscapist and landscape technician. She is the developer of the Green Earth—Green Plants® certification programs and is qualified to work on green building and other environmental projects.   

How can growing green help your business?

According to Fediw, going green can attract new clients, “especially in the 24-34-year-old range,” she said. “Our customers have become more eco-friendly and they are expecting and demanding that we do the same.” Going green also improves employee retention and morale because according to Fediw, employees want to work for someone who is interested in improving the economy.

Becoming sustainable also improves image, integrity and saves money overall by recycling and reusing, saving on electricity, water, pesticides and other materials, “which may be one of the biggest reasons your company should become sustainable,” Fediw said.

Steps to going green

Fediw advised to look at options and start with one or two changes. “Start with the ones that are easy, then consider long-term plans,” she said. A couple changes could be switching to drip irrigation which saves water and produces a cleaner plant, and using organic fertilizers, since “customers are demanding organically grown products, especially in the food and cannabis industry.”

Although customers expect perfect plants, Fediw said there are eco-friendly ways to control pests. By using granular drenches and beneficial insects, “good bugs to control the bad bugs,” Fediw said consumers can still get the perfect plant but in a much healthier condition.

Staying away from phosphates in leaf cleaners and shines is another way to become eco-friendly, because according to Fediw, “phosphates and cleaners can get in water systems and the algae can grow to the point where it suffocates fish.”

Fediw also advised employees to use hybrid cars, carpool and suggested employers to allow certain days where employees work from home if using public transportation or hybrid cars is not optional.

“Going green is the right thing to do, Fediw said. “We’re the green industry and we’re supposed to be the leaders. It’s really that simple.”
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