Tell us about Orangebox and your role
We design and manufacture office furniture and the company is sustainability-led. Our HQ and two factories are in south-east Wales, and three years ago we were bought out by Steelcase, a big American company.
I joined as a furniture designer around 20 years ago, but just over a year ago I became Head of Sustainability. I’m interested in minimising our carbon footprint and I also look after our energy efficiency.
Why is nature important to you and the businesses?
I do a lot of cycling, I’m a keen birdwatcher and part of a conservation group. So I’m passionate about biodiversity and I’m helping Orangebox acknowledge that climate change isn’t the only big risk.
How important is nature in your sector?
Increasingly so, but we are at the first rungs on the ladder. Orangebox prides itself on being environmentally-led, but it’s always felt like we’ve been pushing. Now customers are asking how they can reduce their carbon footprint. The biodiversity and nature discussion is nowhere near as mature, but as we see more media exposure of biodiversity loss that will increase exponentially in the next 5 years.
What do you think are the best things about nature in Wales?
It’s the variety. I love where I live because in half an hour I can be on top of a mountain, on a cliff looking out to sea, or at Newport wetlands surrounded by thousands of starlings.
I work in a design studio on the banks of the Taff, where I’m lucky to look onto woodland. Every time we see a species of bird we print out a picture and put it on the wall. You won’t believe how many species we’ve seen!
Why did you choose to do Nature Wise?
The minute I saw it, I wanted to deepen my knowledge of how ecosystems work and get a better understanding of biodiversity loss. Because I’m with Cardiff Conservation Volunteers my course was essentially free, as it was funded by GWR.
How was the course?
I really enjoyed it. The trainers knew the content and had passion for it, and it was just the right level in terms of complexity.
What changes are you making, following the course?
Personally, I’ve pledged to do more in my village and have been talking to my neighbours. But more impactful will be how I can help at Orangebox. We’re thinking harder about the materials we use and where they come from. For example, we use a lot of wood, and while that is low impact compared to plastics and metals, we still have to buy most of it from abroad. So we’re working hard on developing partnerships that allow us to source wood from well-managed forests in the UK.
What would you say to others about why they should sign up for Nature Wise?
Give it a go, because the clock is ticking.
Nabod Natur – Nature Wise is a science-based, action-focused course to help individuals to understand the relationships between people and natural systems. It shares knowledge, builds understanding and provide the tools to motivate and catalyse action.