Sustainability Matters

Kew Gardens, Online Shop, Sustainability

As a leader in environmental research and plant science, sustainability is at the very heart of Kew’s retail strategy. From making sure every supplier we work with fulfills a stringent set of sustainability standards, to ensuring every order is wrapped & delivered using recycled packaging, and delivered with the lowest carbon footprint, you can be sure that you’re making an environmentally friendly choice when you make a purchase at the Kew Online Shop.

Buying Strategy

Kew achieved accreditation to the International Environmental Standard ISO14001* in 2005 and needs to demonstrate continuous environmental improvement, annually, to retain this certification.

Only suppliers that fulfill a stringent set of sustainability criteria are selected to work with Kew. The criteria includes:

> Clear strategy that addresses any environmental impacts caused by the supplier’s activities

> Ethical, sustainable sourcing strategy

> Evidence of inspection checks made to factories

> Evidence that child labour is not used in the manufacture of products or suppliers can provide evidence that they comply with the International Labour Organization guidelines (ILO) and Transparency In Supply Chain Provisions Act

> Evidence that no animal testing is used in the creation of products

> Any Palm Oil used in products needs to be RSPO* accredited and supported by the relevant documentation. If this is not demonstrated, alternative products will be sourced.

> Carbon emission strategy that meets Kew criteria (this takes into account whether the company has ISO14001 EMS certification*, measurement & reporting of GHG* emissions, the supplier’s net zero target date, carbon emissions created by delivering/transporting the product to kew)

> Any timber products must be FSC* or PEFC* accredited or are proven to be sustainably sourced. Books sales currently come from 99.9% FSC.

> Minimal use of single use plastic in products - Single use virgin plastic packaging will be avoided where possible and alternatives found, or packaging removed entirely.

> Evidence of current environmental practices in Peat. Where peat is included in a product, sourcing alternatives will be explored, and peat free suppliers will be chosen where possible.

> Plants that have only been grown in the UK

> All textiles organic or GOTS cotton

> Suppliers must also meet one of the following criteria:

*Locally Sourced (within a 20-mile radius) or UK sourced.

*Made from Plants or Trees

*Fairly traded

*Made of Recycled or Reclaimed Materials

*Reflects Kew’s Heritage

*Educates on Kew’s research

Sustainable Online Order Packaging & Delivery

Every online order is packaged using recycled materials, where possible.

Any other cardboard boxes and packaging used are compostable and made from FSC certified sources. Additionally, hivewrap or recycled paper is used as an alternative to bubble wrap and plastic packaging.

We always aim to work with couriers with the lowest reported carbon emissions per parcel.

Retail Operations

Sustainability also lies at the heart of how we operate as a Retail & Ecommerce department.

We aim to reduce our environmental footprint by adhering to the following in our day-to-day practices:

> Staff are encouraged to travel by public transport or cycle to work

> Cross site meetings are held virtually in order to minimise travel

> A ‘switch off’ policy is in place to conserve energy

> Moving towards a paperless office

> All network printers set to double sided printing

> Bag for life usage is encourages across all Retail stores

> Recycling facilities are available across all sites

> Induction training for every new employee covers sustainability

> Sustainability is a recurring agenda item at our meetings and at the heart of the Retail strategy

Finally ....

Together with our commitment to sustainability, you can also feel warm & fuzzy about the fact that every purchase you make at our online shop enables Kew to continue its vital research and conservation work.

If you have any comments or questions about our Sustainability strategy, please do not hesitate to get in touch:


*International Environmental Standard ISO14001 - ISO 14001 is the international standard that specifies requirements for an effective environmental management system (EMS). It provides a framework that an organization can follow, rather than establishing environmental performance requirements.

* RSPO - The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable palm oil products through global standards and multistakeholder governance.  

* ISO14001 EMS certification - ISO 14001 is the international standard for environmental management systems (EMS). It was developed to reduce the impact a company’s operations make on the environment.

* GHG emissions - A greenhouse gas is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect.  

* FSC - At the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) we unite individuals, businesses, governments, and NGOs under a common goal: protecting healthy, resilient forests for all, forever.  

* PEFC - The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization which promotes sustainable forest management through independent third party certification. It is considered the certification system of choice for small forest owners.

* GOTS - The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) was developed by leading standard setters to define world-wide recognised requirements for organic textiles. From the harvesting of the raw materials, environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing to labelling, textiles certified to GOTS provide a credible assurance to the consumer.