BLOG: Creating a ‘Bee Friendly’ veterinary practice

We recently caught up with Martin Chamberlain, JVP and Veterinary Surgeon at Cleveleys Vets4Pets, to hear about their latest initiative to make a bee garden and green reception area.

At Vets4Pets we’re proud to empower our Joint Venture Partners and practices to discuss environmental issues, swap ideas on how to reduce our carbon footprint. 

We recently caught up with Martin Chamberlain, JVP and Veterinary Surgeon at Cleveleys Vets4Pets, to hear about their latest initiative to make a bee garden and green reception area. The brighter and softer practice has created quite a buzz (pardon the pun!) receiving lots of positive comments from colleagues and clients.

Here’s what Martin had to say about the initiative and his advice for other practices that might like to do the same:

What inspired you and your team to make your practice more ‘bee friendly’?

As with everyone, we’re increasingly aware of our impact on the environment and wanting to help the general wellbeing of our team and colleagues. We really wanted to play our small part in improving the local biodiversity and help the British bee populations recover. Waiting areas can be very clinical and formal, and inevitably lack warmth and reassurance. We saw a real opportunity for this to also 'soften' the non-clinical part of the practice.

During Covid-19, we ended up having the reception area repaired due to some leaks, so had the opportunity to reimagine how our practice looks and feels. Following a team meeting, we agreed we wanted to try and look towards a more sustainable way of working, wherever possible. We also wanted to improve the environment both inside and outside the practice, so it was more inviting, relaxing and healthy.

What have you done to make it so?

We are still very much a work in progress but in broad strokes we have:

  • Started installing bee-friendly plants in planters outside the practice and adding to it each year. The response from the team and clients has been phenomenally positive and they love walking into a bright area.
  • We’ve revamped our fish tank to make it a focal point in reception again, rather than being the poor relative it has been at times. 
  • Created our own 'moss walls' in the reception area as these reduce noise, purify air and improve wellbeing... and are nice to look at. We’re about halfway through this process currently.
  • Added houseplants to the waiting area to soften the interior of the practice and again purify the environment.
  • Because we work in a clinical environment it’s not possible to recycle all that we’d like to, we’ve focussed on sourcing products that are already recycled and trying to reduce the use of non-recyclables wherever we can. We’re not going to be better overnight, but each small change is a step in the right direction.
  • We’re slowly reviewing everything we do and looking for ways that we can reduce use, change products or cut things out altogether.

Is there any advice you could give to help other practices in becoming more ‘bee friendly’ too?

  • Break it down as there are so many areas that you can make changes that it becomes overwhelming. Start by picking an area you can make a difference to and focus on that to start.
  • Start slowly - it does cost money, so start with something simple and easy. We have increased our budget over the past couple of years to make a bigger impact.
  • Buy things when they’re on offer out of season and invest a bit of time in them.
  • Speak to friends and neighbours - keen gardeners are often happy to donate surplus plants for example.
  • Bring the outside in with houseplants - even a practice with no natural light can make use of moss walls and air plants. Even having one on reception is a start. It's amazing how positively customers and colleagues respond to it!
  • Buy perennials where you can so they can grow and establish over the years. 
  • Declutter - get rid of redundant posters and clutter on desks, it makes such a positive difference to the environment.
  • Reflect on your progress so you can see how much you’ve achieved... it's easy to forget and get lost in how much more there is still to do!

Find out more about Vets4Pets commitment to become the most responsible pet care business in the world and create a better world for pets and the people who love them, click here to read about our Better World Pledge here.

There are also some great resources that can help you to make your practice more bee friendly and you can find out more about how you can support this organisation here.

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