Our customer service specialist Franziska Höntzsch didn’t let a rejection discourage her from getting started at the Spread Group in 2011 – back then as a “Christmas elf” in customer service. “I always wanted to work here, because I heard lots of good things about the international atmosphere. Of course, joining in the middle of the Christmas business is not for everyone. But I told myself: ‘yes, this is where I want to be and stay!’,” says Franziska. She has since been steadily developing her skillset, and today she is the Senior Customer Representative, responsible for queries logistics services of shipping of orders. One of the projects close to her heart are the donations we make with brand new goods from returns. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Franziska and her colleagues, over 50 parcels containing with an average of 50 products were sent to charitable causes around the world in 2021 alone.
Spread Group: What is sustainability to you?
Franziska Höntzsch: I want to do everything I can to protect our environment. I think we should be grateful for what nature provides us with and use these resources sparingly. It’s a very emotional and divisive topic, which could do with a bit more cool-headedness from all sides. Yes, we’re not perfect. But we should stay positive and encourage each other to live more sustainably. Of course, you don’t want to give up your car if you need it to commute to work. But you can still compensate for your CO₂ footprint in other ways, for example by eating less meat. Sustainability should not be a competition between people.
Spread Group: And how do you motivates yourself to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
Franziska Höntzsch: My two children are the driving force. I want them to grow up in an intact environment. This is why I strive to model a sustainable lifestyle for them. It’s always worth investing in lasting products. And it doesn’t mean that these are incredibly expensive! For example, I use cloth diapers for my kids. Or make my own upcycling projects with cosmetic pads made from fabric scraps and baby rompers made from our T-shirt returns. These kinds of projects are just fun for me.
As a fashion fan, I naturally appreciate a large wardrobe. But I can’t turn a blind eye to the excesses the fast-fashion industry produces. My compromise is to buy about 90 percent of my clothes second hand. Through platforms like Vinted, you can find great deals, meaning you don’t pay more than 3 Euros for an unloved dress that’s as good as new.
Spread Group: That’s great! And are there any sustainability projects have you and your team have already implemented?
Franziska Höntzsch: Our biggest project is certainly putting donation packages together that consist of brand new goods from returns. These are shipped to associations or individuals in need several times week. Last year, we were able to support victims of the flood disaster in the west of Germany, among others. We also frequently receive requests for donations for a raffle, the proceeds of which are used to support social projects. Of course, we never give away products with highly personalized imprints or company logos due to legal reasons. These get processed into cleaning rags.
People can get in touch with us about donations – the earlier you contact us, the better! We will also be happy to select designs that fit the theme of the request. From January to November, you can simply send us a short e-mail to email@example.com. In December, we hardly manage to answer donation requests due to the Christmas business.
On occasion, it also happens that customers request unprinted items to test their size. We return these products to our production process after a thorough inspection. We also remove the filling material from the returned cups and pass it on to the shipping department. We don’t use printed packing slips at all in our donation process.
Spread Group: Do you have specific sustainability goals that you set for yourself?
Franziska Höntzsch: We would like to donate much more and are always looking for recipients who need to receive donation packages on a regular basis. One-time collaborations are also possible, of course. My best experience so far was a donation request from an elderly gentleman who reached out to us by email. He wanted to receive donations for a raffle at a school reunion, the proceeds of which went to a charity farm. We are also very happy to support such requests!
Spread Group: What do you recommend to all readers who would like to delve further into the topic of “sustainability”?
Franziska Höntzsch: Where should I start? I was very inspired by books and podcasts. These help me to stay motivated and get new ideas for a sustainable lifestyle. I already mentioned the app “Vinted”, where you can find used clothing at unbeatable prices. I also like to use the app “Too good to go” to save unsold food from restaurants and cafés and do something against food waste.
Spread Group: Thank you very much for the interview, Franziska!
- Corporate Social Responsibility at Spread Group: spreadgroup.com/sustainability
- Franziska‘s book recommendation: „Mein Herz schlägt grün – Weltverbessern für Anfänger“ von Louisa Dellert
- Franziska’s app recommendation: „Vinted“ und „Too Good To Go“
- Franziska‘s podcast recommendation: „Fairquatscht – Der Nachhaltigkeitspodcast“