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!