The environmental cottage – sustainability brought to life

We all need to think about our impact on the environment. Linde Material Handling, a KION Group subsidiary, has taken this to heart in China, building an ‘environmental cottage’ in front of its headquarters in Xiamen (Fujian Province) for everyone who is interested in sustainable practices.

The colorful container situated right at the entrance to the cafeteria is open all day to employees, partners, visitors, customers, and people living nearby. Inside, the walls are covered in posters and photos showcasing truck manufacturer Linde’s environmental initiatives in China. The cottage itself demonstrates how recycled objects can be given a new life. Paint tins, for example, serve as chairs while a block of compressed packaging material has been upcycled to create a table. In the yard, there are painted metal barrels that have been repurposed as trash cans and planters. The container is powered by solar panels outside. Some of the exhibits show how to save energy when using industrial trucks. It all sends a clear message that sustainability is the focus here.

Creating awareness and providing motivation

The idea for this unusual project was conceived in 2017, when Linde China’s environmental initiatives were officially launched. “We wanted to create a place where people can experience environmental protection for themselves,” says Fu Xiaorong, Production Manufacturing Manager at Linde China and one of the brains behind the environmental cottage. It opened its doors after a year of planning and another six months of construction.

Particularly noteworthy is that every aspect of the environmental cottage, from the design and painting of the container to the concept for the exhibition, was planned and implemented by volunteers from the workforce. And they are now responsible for maintaining and operating the cottage, including running flea markets and holding meetings of the environmental committee and the volunteer organization. Courses on subjects such as the avoidance of waste, green travel and a vegetarian diet are also a regular feature. Various children’s activities relating to the environment also take place with the aim of creating awareness about conservation of resources, recycling, and so on. These include a game that teaches children the principles of waste separation in a fun way and vegetarian cooking lessons. The cottage is also the venue for a summer vacation program that offers a broad range of activities for the children of Linde China’s employees.

Setting a positive example

The initiative at Linde China is inspiring other organizations in the region to champion the environment. One of them is the Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, an international humanitarian aid organization. It held an event at the environmental cottage for around 50 local companies, at which they swapped ideas on how to step up corporate social responsibility efforts in a targeted manner. The Linde team in Xiamen was glad to host the visitors, not least because it was a chance to share its experiences with other companies. “Ultimately, environmental protection concerns all of us,” says Lin Yixin, HSE and Sustainability Manager at Linde China. “If the cottage helps us to raise awareness, then we are on the right track.”

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