It’s Monday morning and the rush-hour crowds have you coping with the pangs of claustrophobia before you’ve even stepped into the elevator. Back to the grind, your laptop case weighs heavy on your shoulders — until you open the door to the Etsy office. A verdant tunnel greets you, transporting you to the serenity and focus of a forested vista. You suddenly feel refreshed, primed to sit down at your desk and tackle the day’s work.
Many a study has shown the benefits of plants in the workplace, whether based on productivity, air quality, or stress. And while Etsy certainly isn’t the first office to encourage office greenery, Hanna and Josh from our Facilities Team have manifested their lush vision with particular behavioral and ecological goals in mind.
As Josh and Hanna have developed Etsy’s aesthetic and functional expansion within Brooklyn HQ, they have considered the challenge an opportunity to express our values as a company. Josh reflects: “Construction is inherently wasteful. We wanted to show that there is an alternative way to grow as a business, that doesn’t involve ordering everything from the Herman Miller catalog or from Staples. We’re trying to explore what it means to be a business that transacts on a large scale with independent entrepreneurs and makers.” So when it came time to address the near-universal desire for office flora, they naturally turned to small business innovator Miguel Nelson, whom they first heard speak at the Hello Etsy conference last year.
Miguel developed his product, Woolly Pockets, with his brother Rodney, to address the growing need for DIY vertical gardening. Made from recycled plastic bottles and felt, Woolly Pockets enable dreams of living walls to become a reality. When Hanna first came to Etsy, she quickly observed a smattering of struggling, tiny potted plants from desk to desk. As Hanna admits, “The only thing sadder than not having plants is having lots of dying plants.”
And so Josh and Hanna invited Miguel to the office and enlisted the help of Admin from across the company to cultivate these green installations. Josh and Hanna have found the living walls offer a true breath of fresh air in what can often be a frenzied environment. “When you put a ton of earth on the wall, it calms the room,” Josh says. Acoustically, climatically, and socially — the walls continue to provide.
“How can a workplace serve someone’s overall vision for their life?” Josh ponders. In every decision that the Facilities Team makes, they consider not just the best choice for Etsy HQ, but also the model they’re setting for each employee. Businesses, as the largest consumers in our economy, have the potential to act as hubs of information, lessening their own ecological footprint, and by doing so, create a ripple-effect change. After witnessing first-hand the accessibility of composting within the office, I have since taken up the cause at my apartment. With regular bicycle tune-up sessions during the workday, my colleagues have embraced alternative commuting as the norm. Just as we bring personal values to our work life every day, so too must we develop work values that we are eager to bring back home.
How do you make your work environment greener?