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Victoria Malios’ work has had an undercurrent of sustainability for over seven years: She wrote her thesis on the “Privatization of the Water Industry in Manila” with a focus on Corporate Social Responsibility, and CSR is central to her work for Spread Group.

Today, the experienced community manager is pushing towards Spreadshop‘s sustainability goals. A native of Leipzig with Cypriot roots, she is responsible for community management of the European market. One of Victoria’s responsibilities is to translate the brand’s “go green” milestones into multimedia content.

Spread Group: How do you personally define sustainability?

Victoria Malios: Sustainability is a very broad term. I define it as the art of creating the optimal balance between human needs and scarce resources in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Currently, the scales are tipped too far to one side: We consume as if we had two or three Earths to sustain us. Lockdown has made it clear how important regeneration phases are for nature: for example, at the beginning of the year, dolphins were once again swimming in the lagoons of Venice. This is an important and positive sign to all of us.

Spread Group: What motivates you to live a more sustainable lifestyle?

Victoria Malios: The certainty that we will not be able to avoid a dramatic change in our behavior for much longer. If our goal is to motivate as many people as possible to become more sustainable, then I think the communication we see on social media is too biased. Of course it’s easier to criticize others instead of questioning oneself. I would like to see us become more open and tolerant in this regard. The core message must be that living more sustainably is not about doing without, but rather enriching your life and the lives of those around you. We often completely ignore the fact that we have the power to directly improve the lives of workers on the other side of the world just through our consumer behavior.

Spread Group: What sustainability projects have you and your team already implemented?

Victoria Malios: We support Spread Group’s sustainability goals 100 percent and are part of the internal initiative that drives actions such as plastic-free packaging or climate-neutral shipping. We at Spreadshop have had good experiences with DHL Go Green, among others. Making the supply chains more climate-friendly, from the manufacturing sites of our unprinted goods to our five production sites, is an enormous undertaking.

At Spread Group, we define sustainability as Corporate Social Responsibility. This model includes not only environmental sustainability, but also socio-economic responsibilities. One of the main pillars of CSR is social responsibility, which is a particular focal point for us: Our goal is to enable individuals to make a living through their design work. We want to make entrepreneurship as easy as possible. That’s why we give our Shop Owners the opportunity to sell custom T-shirts, hoodies, etc. through our platform without having to bear the brunt of pre-production or warehousing costs. All the behind-the-scenes tasks such as the garment production, shipping, payment processing and customer service are handled by us. Our Shop partners only need their PC or laptop, internet access and a good design idea to open their own Shop.

Our responsibility towards the Shop Owners we work with doesn’t end there. We want to invest in their education and improve the longevity of their business. Some examples of how we support our Shop Owners are our Design Service and Spreadshirt Toolbox. When it’s time for our Shop Owners to polish their design, our professional Design Service is there to support them. We are currently working on offering the free online academy called the “Spreadshop Toolbox” for our Shop Owners. We will shoot short video tutorials and explain how they can use free tools to further develop and vary their designs. With the academy, we want to create many “aha!” moments and new inspiration for our community.

Spread Group: What specific sustainability goals have you set for yourselves?

Victoria Malios: Here at Spreadshop, we would definitely like to work on the visibility of our certificates and seals, such as Oeko-Tex Standard 100, FWF or BSCI. Currently, the certificates are still too hidden in the product description. We are also in close contact with many of our sustainable or charitable Shop Owners, such as Pink Ribbon, Beach Cleaner or the Earth Day Network, and are constantly expanding our organic product range based on their ideas. Our next product will be a baseball cap made of 100 percent organic cotton. We always announce new products on our blog – it’s worth a look.

Spread Group: What do you recommend to all readers who would like to further explore the topic of “sustainability”?

Victoria Malios: My main source of inspiration is of course social media. Bloggers and activists, for example DariaDaria and Luisa Neubauer, always show me new perspectives through their posts. Lesser-known might be the podcast “Don’t waste, be happy”, which I highly recommend.

Spread Group: Thank you so much for the interview, Victoria.

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60 new items of clothing are bought per person per year in Germany alone. In total, that’s 5.2 billion garments, 2 billion of which Greenpeace estimates are rarely or never worn. In the fight against overproduction in the fast-fashion industry, print on demand (POD) has a decisive advantage: items are only produced when and how the customer wants them. Could this provide leverage to make the textile industry more sustainable? Ewa Ziemba, manager of our Polish Spread Group plant in Legnica, summarizes the advantages Print-on-Demand (PoD) has over conventional textile production.

Ewa has been with Spread Group since 2007. She started her career as working in production and today successfully manages our plant in Legnica. Its 232 employees ensure that millions of T-shirts, sweaters and accessories reach our customers in impeccable condition. Last year alone, around 2.7 million items were printed and shipped to more than 180 countries. As plant manager, Ewa is concerned with the carbon footprint of the products finished at her site: “With our organic collection, the carbon footprint is more than 20 percent smaller than a typical white T-shirt bought from a retail shop. A standard T-shirt has a footprint of 3.7 kilograms of carbon dioxide during its “life cycle.””

1. Resource-saving production

In the print-on-demand business model, customers often become designers: they design their own garments, put a lot of heart and soul into them, and wear these unique items on special occasions, such as weddings or bachelor parties. This kind of self-designed clothing has a longer life cycle than standard T-shirts. This is a major advantage for brands like Spread Group, who are aiming for more sustainable textile production: There are few returns and no offcuts are made in the warehouse. “We regularly donate our like-new returned items to charity. We have products featuring personal designs or company logos processed directly into insulation- so we make sure that no resources are wasted,” explains Ewa Ziemba.

2. Water-saving Digital Direct printing process

The Digital Direct process is a method that is widely used throughout the industry and is more eco-friendly than other standard methods. Unlike other printing processes, such as screen printing, it requires considerably less water to apply designs precisely onto garments. Most garments for the Spread Group brands are finished using this method at the Legnica site, explains Ewa Ziemba: “We work with Kornit and Brother in the Digital Direct printing process because their machines produce high print quality and their ink is water-saving and sustainable. As a vegan ink, it even has the “OEKO-TEX Eco Passport” certification.”

3. Fair production conditions

In the established POD industry, fair working and production conditions are contractual by default in the company’s Code of Conducts. Many companies, such as the Spread Group brands, also maintain a long-standing partnership with their producers: “Our colleagues from the Supply Chain Management and Purchasing departments have met many of our partner entrepreneurs personally on several occasions. They were able to see the high social standards on-site for themselves, without which we would not enter into a business cooperation,” confirms Ewa Ziemba.

4. Transparent supply chains

As in any manufacturing industry, POD companies also account for a high proportion of CO2 emissions in their supply chains – from raw material extraction to direct suppliers. For Spread Group’s own collection, the organic cotton is grown in Turkey, processed locally to t-shirts and hoodies, and sent to European production sites, such as the factory in Legnica, for finishing. However, Spread Group’s range also includes sustainable alternatives, such as products from Stanley & Stella, Neutral and Continental Clothing. Sustainability is also taken into account in the transport routes, explains Ewa Ziemba: “We have technologically optimized the processes so that, among other things, the orders are automatically printed at the production site that has the shortest distance to the end customer. As a result, our organic collection currently has the lowest carbon footprint within our entire product portfolio.”

5. Lower return rates

The print-on-demand production process has been proven to reduce return rates: the individually-designed items are made to order and thus mostly meet customer expectations. Last year, for example, the return rates for Spread Group brands in Germany was around 5%, well below the national average of 12% for online retailers, as Ewa Ziemba can confirm: “I also put the low return rates down to our high print and design quality. For example, we’ve worked on rejecting designs with too low a pixel quality below 1000px so that we always achieve first-class print results.”

Related link:
More on sustainability at Spread Group: www.spreadgroup.com/sustainability

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CSR @ Spread Group: 5 Questions for Zach Coss

September 08, 2021 in Company Responsibility
CSR @ Spread Group: 5 Questions on Sustainability for Zach Coss

Since 2012, Zach Coss has been successfully planning and managing Spread Group’s operations in Greensburg, Pennsylvania as Director of Operations. In that time, his team has grown to 110 employees and has been able to optimize its processes to the point where items are produced in under six minutes instead of twelve, and their quality is steadily improving.

The decisive factor for his application to the Spread Group nine years ago was the Spreadshirt website, which had sparked his interest in the products, the organization and its processes – a decision that the industrial engineer and business economist has not had cause to regret. Zack and his team are now tackling the important issue of sustainability at the Greensburg site with their trademark efficiency.

Spread Group: How do you define sustainability for yourself?

Zach Coss: Sustainability to me is using just what I need, and doing what I can to reuse things and reduce consumption, being mindful to leave my space better than I found it for the next person.

Spread Group: What motivates you to live a more sustainable lifestyle?

Zach Coss: The existence of the Great Pacific Garbage patch makes me sad about the condition we’re leaving the world in for future generations. So I try to personally buy local, carry my own reusable bag rather than plastic, I recycle as much as I can, and try to reduce my energy consumption and landfill waste at home. I try to avoid single use plastics, and buy used items when I can. Additionally, I get my home energy through local solar and wind generators, and I have really insulated my home and upgraded things to conserve energy. I would love to live in an area where I could walk or bike to more things. Unfortunately where I live that’s not feasible.

Spread Group: What sustainable projects have you and your team already implemented?

Zach Coss: The team here is very mindful of energy use and recycling. We try to recycle all of our ink containers, our cardboard, soda cans etc. Our lighting in the production hall has all been switched over to LED.

We have motion sensors that turn of lights in rooms when they aren’t being used. We regularly donate our T-shirts from returns or, if they have a personal imprint or company logos, we process them directly into insulation wool in order to recycle them. Lastly, we collect our used waste ink and have it collected for sustainable disposal rather than just dumping it down the drains.

Spread Group: What specific sustainability goals have you set for your team?

Zach Coss: We’re currently looking at moving our operation to a new building. I’ve already been discussing sustainability options with the potential new property managers. The team is really interested in more motion sensing switches, LED lighting, and more recycling initiatives. I’m hoping to find a builder that is LEED certified in the US, and we will definitely plan for a well-insulated building to conserve energy use. I would like to set up a small garden to keep some natural elements around the facility, utilizing rainwater. Everyone here is excited about our company’s drive to use more sustainable product packaging, so we’ve been eagerly testing options in production. My ultimate goal would be to follow the path of Subaru and Porsche and have a zero-waste facility.

Spread Group: What do you recommend to all readers who would like to further explore the topic of “sustainability”?

Zach Coss: Be more mindful of your activities. What you purchase, what you waste, how your actions will affect other living things. This is something I’m sure we could all do more of. We have a beautiful planet with everything we need – but we really waste so many resources needlessly.

As a resource, I’d also recommend the magazine and website for Scientific American, which has a lot of good writeups on sustainability, from products to whole corporation’s efforts on sustainability.

Spread Group: Thanks so much for the interview, Zach.

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World Humanitarian Day 2021: Three Spread Group Partners Fighting Climate Change

August 19, 2021 in Company Responsibility
World Humanitarian Day 2021: Three Spread Group Partners Fighting Climate Change

The United Nations’ World Humanitarian Day is once again uniting those who work tirelessly for the survival and well-being of people affected by crises and for the safety of all aid workers. With the motto “The Human Race”, the focus of this year’s World Humanitarian Day is the global climate crisis. Spread Group’s store partners “Earth Day Network”, “National Parks Conservation Association” and “SECORE International”, to name a few, have committed themselves to this important cause.

Earth Day Network
For the past year, the Spread Group has been working with the Earth Day Network to boost visibility for their commitment to environmental protection. Their global movement dates back to April 22, 1970, when 20 million people first mobilized to demand greater protection for our natural world. Today, 51 years later, climate change has become the greatest threat of our time. The Earth Day Network is one of the key organizations coordinating volunteers to tackle the challenges presented by the climate crisis. Proceeds from their Earth Day Store go towards various environmental projects, such as The Canopy Project and Artists for The Earth.

National Parks Conservation Association

We have been working closely with our partners at the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) for three years. As the only independent, nonpartisan membership organization, the association is considered the voice of America’s national parks. For over 100 years, it has been dedicated to the protection and preservation of these unique natural places. Among other things, it is thanks to the NPCA that the endangered Florida panther has been reintroduced into the Everglades ecosystem and that the Great Basin, Tallgrass Prairie and Pullman national parks were created. The association already has about 1.3 million members, and non-member support is also possible by purchasing one of their products from the ParkShop.

SECORE International
The conservation organization SECORE International has been one of our partners since 2018. They are committed to the restoration of coral reefs, which is so urgently needed due to their critically endangered position worldwide. Together with interdisciplinary engineers, they have developed their own techniques and tools for coral farming and built a global network of scientists, public aquarium experts, and local authorities, partners and stakeholders. They also share their knowledge through training events and workshops, and advise their partners on how to implement new techniques in the field. Those who wish to support the initiative and its commitment to thriving coral reefs and healthy oceans can donate directly or make purchases in their SECORE International Shop.

From animal welfare to sea bridges to local artists, there are many great initiatives and activists to be found among the 170,000+ Spreadshops in Europe as well as North America. Learn more here.

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Corporate Communications Specialist

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CSR @ Spread Group: 5 Questions for Michael Kasten

August 11, 2021 in Company Responsibility
CSR @ Spread Group: 5 Questions for Michael Kasten

Michael Kasten, Director of IT Operations at the Spread Group, rarely loses his cool in day-to-day business. For more than 13 years, he has ensured that the Spread Group’s operating systems work reliably at all locations. With his international team – 40 employees from 10 countries – he makes a significant contribution to the customer satisfaction of the company brands. And when asked about sustainability, Michael Kasten gets enthusiastic about many green ideas for his department, which he resolutely tackles.

Spread Group: How do you define sustainability?

Michael Kasten: For me, sustainability means that we should not take more resources from nature than it can regenerate. In principle, we should also critically question all resources that cannot be completely degraded. It should be our goal to strive for a circular economy to produce high-quality products that are used for a long time and completely recycled. Unfortunately, a closed cycle is still utopian in the IT industry: the components of a circuit board consist of lead, gold and silicon, among other things, which can only be separated chemically with great effort.

Spread Group:
What motivates you to live a more sustainable lifestyle?

Michael Kasten:
I am annoyed by the unnecessary electronic waste that is generated by our overconsumption. Buying a new mobile phone every two years is sheer madness. But I also see the big telecommunication providers responsibility here. Through their new contracts with free mobile phones, they promote our throwaway mentality. I would like to see a compulsory label for electronic devices that I can read at a glance. How many resources were used for it? And how repair-friendly is the device? As a consumer, we are still completely in the dark.

Spread Group:
What sustainability projects have you and your team already implemented?

Michael Kasten: Together, we have drawn up a mission statement which states that we always want to focus our work on sustainability. As a result, we have already converted two of our three data centers completely to green electricity, thereby saving 70 tons of CO2 per year. We are currently planning the relocation of the last data center, for which we will invest a mid-six-figure sum. Of course, this center will only be powered by electricity from 100 per cent renewable energy sources. The modern servers in our data centers also require less cooling than in the past and thus save a lot of energy. Today, our servers already run at an optimal temperature at 25° Celsius.

Within the group, most colleagues work with laptops, which is much more favorable from an ecological point of view than desktop PCs. Laptops are technically designed to save electricity. Unfortunately, however, they are difficult to maintain. Our mission with all computers and servers is to use them for a long time in terms of sustainability. On average, we work with them for five years, which is good value. This is sometimes quite a balancing act, because it is also clear that there is something to be said for working on a fast new device.

Spread Group: What specific sustainability goals have you set for yourselves?

Michael Kasten: Quite a lot! In addition to our project to use 100 per cent green electricity in all data centers, we want to further improve our digital workflows and pay even more attention to whether and when we use paper. The paperless office is not a utopia, but often only fails because of our bad habits.

Spread Group: What do you recommend to all readers who would like to further explore the topic of “sustainability”?

Michael Kasten: Look at yourself and see what you can change. Many people e.g. underestimate how power-hungry screen savers can be. If you don’t really need them, you should deactivate them directly. At Spread Group, we are currently working on a small project that will allow us to centrally control all screen savers for work breaks. That’s even more convenient.

Spread Group: Thank you very much for the interview, Michael.

FURTHER LINKS

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CSR @ Spread Group: 5 Questions for Sylvia Thiele

July 07, 2021 in Company Responsibility
CSR @ Spread Group: 5 Questions for Sylvia Thiele

Sylvia Thiele holds one of Spread Group’s most important key positions to promote sustainability across the entire company. As the Head of Supply Chain Management EU, she and her team are responsible for the sustainable alignment of company-wide procurement of processes and supply chains. Building a continuously improved supply chain that takes equal account of economic, environmental, and social aspects is a complex challenge that Sylvia Thiele takes on with a great deal of passion and expertise.

Spread Group: How do you define sustainability?

Sylvia Thiele: Social aspects are particularly important to me, as they are often neglected in sustainability debates. Child labor, for example, is still a major issue in Asia, which I am also confronted with in my work. Of course, we categorically reject child labor and only conclude contracts with producers who demonstrably do not employ minors. As a mother, I am personally concerned that so many children are deprived of their childhood and – due to the lack of time for school – also of their future. The issue of plastic is of great concern to me, both professionally and privately. There is still far too much plastic in circulation that is not 100 percent degradable. The new EU law against the use of single-use plastic is a good start that we should build on.

Spread Group: What motivates you to live a more sustainable lifestyle?

Sylvia Thiele: I’m pragmatic. Wherever I’m offered a sustainable alternative, I integrate it into my everyday life. I always buy vegetables and eggs locally and always have a tote bag with me so that I don’t have to use plastic bags. But it’s more difficult when it comes to mobility. I live outside Leipzig and need my car every day because the poor connections with public transport don’t allow for anything else.

Spread Group: What sustainability projects have you and your team already implemented?

Sylvia Thiele: We have already implemented a large number of different projects in the areas of supply-chain optimization, packaging, and procurement. I would first like to highlight our own organic collection. As a best-practice project, we have developed it according to BSCI standards that go far beyond the minimum legal requirements in the supply chain. Their organic cotton is produced in Turkey and processed locally in a nearby factory. The supply chain is as short as it can be. Our standard collection has an even longer supply chain because we source the cotton from India, among other places, and have it processed in Bangladesh.

I have known some of our producers and suppliers for many years and visit them regularly on site. In addition to our Code of Conduct that lays down the cornerstone of our cooperation, these meetings are particularly important to me. I want to get a first-hand impression of the production, the dyeing plant, and the logistics partners. Last year, I was unable to travel there due to the pandemic, but we found another way and now speak to each other even more regularly on the phone.

Spread Group:
What specific sustainability goals have you set for yourselves?

Sylvia Thiele: We will continue to work on using our packaging in an environmentally conscious way. Whenever possible, we reuse our packaging so that, for example, we ship our drinking bottles in the same boxes as they are delivered to us. Our goal remains the 100 percent mark for green packaging. To achieve this, we are currently taking a close look at everything, from outer packaging to our parcel tapes.

At the moment, we still have to pack our products in plastic, as the requirements of our logistics partners for shipping don’t allow any other type of packaging. However, we are currently investigating whether there are any greener alternatives that also comply with our partners’ safety regulations. With around 9.8 million products printed and shipped every year, this could save us an enormous amount of plastic! Wherever possible, we already omit outer packaging. We put several products in one large bag instead of several small ones, which saves vast amounts of plastic. For our European customers, we have been using boxes that do not require additional adhesive tape for small to medium-sized packaging for some time now.

Spread Group: What do you recommend to all readers who would like to delve further into the topic of “sustainability”?

Sylvia Thiele: Find out more about the products you want to buy. To avoid losing your bearings in the jungle of certificates, I can e.g. recommend the Siegelklarheit.de website (in German). It offers a good overview of the most common certificates and can also be downloaded as an app to your cell phone. And exchange ideas with like-minded people! I like getting inspired by others.

Spread Group: Thank you very much for the interview, Sylvia.

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CSR @ Spread Group: 5 Questions for Andrea Radziewsky

June 08, 2021 in Responsibility
CSR @ Spread Group: 5 Questions for Andrea Radziewsky

As the Head of B2B Customer Service Operations, Andrea keeps having an eye on the big picture. She manages the customer service department with 35 employees for the Spread Group’s bulk order division. She took her first career steps within the group nine years ago while she was still enrolled at university. Andrea also thinks big when it comes to sustainability and – together with her team – sets ambitious goals to save even more resources in her department.

Spread Group: How do you personally define sustainability?

Andrea Radziewsky: Sustainability is not something we should leave to others. It is up to us! Every day we make decisions and too often ignore the fact that they have an impact on our environment and future generations. At some point, I didn’t want to go along with that anymore and drew the consequences for myself. I’ve been living vegan for two years now. Of course, this step is not for everyone, but some habits can be changed quite easily. No more buying cheap disposable fashion, reselling old clothes via second-hand apps, and switching to green electricity.

Spread Group: What motivates you to live a more sustainable lifestyle?

Andrea Radziewsky: I determined my CO2 footprint via a climate calculator online. This spurred me on to reduce it even further. Through my vegan lifestyle, I was able to save a large amount of CO2 at that time. I am also green when it comes to “mobility”, as I regularly travel by bus and train. Having my own car was never a question for me, because I don’t even have a driver’s license.

Spread Group: What role does sustainability play in your job and in the tasks of your team?

Andrea Radziewsky: An important role. There are a few adjustments in bulk orders that we have made to further our sustainability balance. For example, we avoid printing out emails and other documents. For our group orders, we make sure that we pack all the items of an order in just one large cardboard box instead of wrapping each item individually. This saves a lot of packaging. But we can’t do without the bags altogether, as it’s a legal requirement to ensure that the goods reach the customer undamaged. We also try to avoid returns and offer our customers the option of ordering samples. Our customers’ interest in sustainable products has increased significantly in recent years. One indicator here are the many inquiries we receive through our service e-mail address responsibility@spreadshirt.de. I think it’s great that customers are looking so closely at our products. A lot of information, such as our environmental certificates and dealer credentials can be found on our website at any time. For example, our ink is 100 percent vegan, and our packaging is all recyclable.

Spread Group: Have you set yourselves specific sustainability goals?

Andrea Radziewsky: Yes, of course. I have planned a workshop with my team in which we will gather ideas for a more sustainable development in the department. It will also be about greater sensitivity to the everyday carelessness in life. Do we leave our appliances on standby in the evening? And do we turn off the lights when we leave the office for longer meetings?

Spread Group: What do you recommend to all readers who would like to further explore the topic of sustainability?

Andrea Radziewsky: I really like the blog utopia.de. It provides great inspiration for sustainable consumption, but also practical advice on how to save energy. I would never have come up with some of these tips on my own – it’s definitely worth a look!

Spread Group: Thank you for the interview, Andrea.

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Spread Group signs Diversity Charter

Spread+Group+signs+Diversity+Charter

By joining the non-profit association “Charta der Vielfalt e. V.”, Spread Group commits itself to a corporate culture of tolerance, diversity, and mutual respect.

Spread Group joined the non-profit association Charta der Vielfalt e.V. today. Now the values exercised at the group’s locations will be more visible and tangible from the outside. As a member of the nationwide initiative, Spread Group is committed to consistently driving forward diversity management and inclusion. In doing so, it can build on existing processes and internal projects that have already been initiated.

“We are proud to be a part of this important initiative now. More than 50 percent of our management positions are already held by female executives, and it goes without saying that every employee can work part-time for us – even in management. We will now continue to develop this open environment while respecting the charter’s standards. For example, we are planning new workshops to raise awareness for diversity topics and involve the ideas of our staff in the process,” says Theresa Kretzschmar, Global HR Director of Spread Group.

The Charta der Vielfalt e.V. association was founded in 2010 and began its work in March 2011 under the patronage of German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. As a signatory, the Spread Group joins the circle of more than 3,800 companies and institutions. These are committed to advancing the recognition, appreciation, and inclusion of diversity by way of voluntary commitment.

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CSR @ Spread Group: 5 Questions for Henriette Hellwing

May 05, 2021 in Company Responsibility
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Henriette has been our Teamlead Facility & Office Management for seven years now. She has been managing all tasks related to facility management at the Leipzig site. As a nature-loving person, Henriette is deeply impressed with the green transformation of her home region. A native of Saxony from the south of Leipzig, she recalls vivid childhood memories with opencast lignite mining pits of the GDR aera. Today, this area has been transformed to the Leipzig Neuseenlandschaft, a lake resort.

After completing her commercial training, Henriette wanted to work for a regional, yet internationally active company that keeps an eye on the “big picture” and is also committed to sustainability. Today, she and her team of five develop and support all projects that make the working environment at the Leipzig site greener and healthier.

Spread Group: How do you personally define sustainability?

Henriette Hellwing: Sustainability is a big thing. For me, it means taking small steps to make positive changes in my life and environment. I am very close to nature and enjoy my life just outside the city. For the last three years that we have had our own garden, where consciously allowed wild growth for insects. In general, I am looking very carefully at what I buy and how it is packaged. For example, I have rediscovered the farm stores in my neighborhood. Their products are organic, regional, and taste just wonderful!

Spread Group: What motivates you to live a more sustainable lifestyle?

Henriette Hellwing:
I still remember how dirty the air, rivers, and lakes were as a result of open-cast mining in my childhood. The positive effects of structural change are therefore not abstract to me – I see how nature has recovered. This has shown me once again how important it is as the most important our basis for lives. We should take good care of it and can already make a big difference by considering these questions: What food do we eat? What clothes do we buy? And how do we use natural resources such as water sparingly?

Spread Group:
What role does sustainability play in your job and in the tasks of your team?

Henriette Hellwing:
When I started at Spread Group in 2014, there were already several projects in my department. And here it is just as true that many small things contribute to the big picture and every single action or measure is important. For example, we have been using pure green electricity for over 7 years. As a result, we were able to save over 130 tons of CO2 at the Leipzig site in 2020. We are currently pushing the topic of “recycling”. We are working with an external recycling service provider who sorts, processes and disposes of our waste mechanically. We separate paper, metal and glass waste in advance and take some of it to the recycling center. Although we all work online, we still cannot do without paper and toner, but we have set up collection points throughout the building for empty toner cartridges and batteries, and we dispose of them properly. We are also increasingly using rechargeable batteries.

The fruit baskets in our tea kitchens are filled with seasonal and regional products – increasingly also in organic quality. Instead of water bottles, there are water dispensers throughout the building. This reduces plastic consumption enormously. We recently switched our milk completely to organic, and we also offer milk alternatives such as oat or soy milk as another option. When purchasing toilet paper or towel paper, we make sure that it is certified with the “Blue Angel”.

Another goal is the gradual switch to green mobility. When purchasing our company cars, we already ensure low fuel consumption and the corresponding environmental badges. They are not personal company cars, but pool vehicles for all employees. Our company bicycles are even more environmentally friendly. Our colleagues can borrow them at any time for shorter distances. For longer journeys, they mainly travel by Deutsche Bahn. Flights cannot always be avoided, but we try to minimize them as much as possible. Aand if we do have to fly, we use programs that offset CO2.

When renovating our building, we make sure to use environmentally friendly paints. Our furniture is reused as often as possible, sometimes appropriately refurbished for a new purpose, given away or sold for a small contribution. When commissioning service providers and trades, locality is very important to us, so that no long journeys are necessary.

Spread Group: Have you set yourselves specific sustainability goals?

Henriette Hellwing:
The next project we would like to tackle is the lighting in our building. We have already contacted a lighting specialist who will help us with more sustainable and long-lasting lighting in the building. After all, we need to illuminate our nearly 6,000 square meters while keeping environmental protection and electricity consumption in mind. We also want to use more sustainable alternatives in our office supplies, such as pens with cardboard instead of plastic covers. We often get great suggestions from our colleagues about what we could improve. For example, our next step will be to reduce the number of waste-paper baskets at our desks and the waste bags we use for them. A small step that is supported by everyone and thus contributes to more sustainability.

Spread Group: What do you recommend to all readers who would like to further explore the topic of sustainability?

Henriette Hellwing: I think it would be great if more people were concerned with sustainability. There are now many sustainable companies that, for example, plant a tree for every product sold or actively participate in the reforestation of the rainforest. I think that’s great and worth supporting! I also recommend the magazine and podcast “Hirschhausens Sprechstunde“ by Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen. In “Gesund leben” he frequently writes about climate change and is a committed advocate for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN). His podcast deals with topics related to health and well-being. It repeatedly returns to sustainability issues in the process.

Spread Group: Thank you for the interview, Henriette!

Freedom of expression is a human right in need of protection. As a partner of the first Freedom of Expression Week in Germany, Spread Group is contributing to a greater visibility of freedom of expression in order to encourage the diversity of opinion. #MehrAlsMeineMeinung

As we value the freedom of expression and creative expression, we print almost all designs uploaded to our platforms – whether we like them or not. Of course, there are guidelines we set for our community. For example, we reject designs that spread illegal or inflammatory content (hate speech), incite violence, are pornographic, or support harmful and misleading content.

Clothing and accessories are our media of self-expression. Everybody should have the chance to bring their ideas to live the way they want. This is why our platform is open to diversity of opinion.

We may not like all some of the views expressed by designs uploaded to our platform, because opinions are subjective and as such do not always match our view of the world. There are emotions attached to opinions that are based on experiences, education, religion or even fear. Tolerance is needed and essential here.

There are also laws and guidelines that will prevent us from hosting content of racist, sexist, inciting, or discriminating nature. Our Community Standards define the content we will not tolerate.

In some cases, the context of a piece of content is key to understanding it. We encourage our community to keep this in mind and report designs that you feel violate our Community Standards. We take every report about a design, product, or shop very seriously. We analyze each case thoroughly and – if necessary – will consult experts before taking action. Sometimes a design alludes to complex issues, and different perspectives can lead to its interpretation in a seemingly contradictory way. On other occasions, the meaning attached to a word or a symbol changes over time.

A design that was part of the diversity of opinion yesterday can undermine freedom of expression tomorrow. We must always keep an eye on these developments and face them with our eyes wide open. If we continue to spread awareness and keep learning with a tolerant mindset, we can retain the open platform we want to offer. Last year, some 10 million new designs uploaded to our platform by a wide range of talented designers stand for empowering self-expression. And millions of customers purchasing these products fill us with pride.

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