With fostering the health of the world around us becoming increasingly important, companies everywhere are making sustainability a priority and taking steps to become more environmentally friendly. Consumers respectand expect—those efforts: According to Innova Market Research Top Ten Consumer Trends report for 2023, consumers are interested in brands with clear health and sustainability goals, and the health of the planet remains the top global issue with consumers increasingly expressing eco concerns.

The natural products industry is at the forefront of the sustainability movement, with companies throughout the supply chain making great strides to protect the health of people and the planet. Brands, ingredients suppliers, and natural products retailers recently shared their strategies, both large and small, to help make sustainability shifts. As the team at Marlene’s Market & Deli (WholeFoods Magazine’s 2021 Retailer of the Year) encouraged, “Room for improvement is everywhere to be found.” 

One way to improve: designing a more sustainable office space through the use of sustainable materials.

WholeFoods Magazine's Connelly Jaqua consulted Dena Prastos, Founder & CEO of Indigo River, a transdisciplinary design studio focused on Climate Adaptation, to learn more about the importance of sustainable office space and materials to consider for an eco-friendly environment.

Dena Prastos, AIA Headshot 3.jpgDena Prastos, Founder & CEO of Indigo RiverJaqua: What positive impacts can be achieved by redesigning your office space to include more sustainable materials?

Prastos: Redesigning an office space to include more sustainable materials can result in several positive impacts. For example, sustainable materials typically have a lower carbon footprint than traditional materials, meaning that they produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions during production and transportation. This can help to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the office space and contribute to mitigating the effects of
climate change. Additionally, sustainable materials often have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance, which can lead to cost savings over time. Finally, sustainable materials are often healthier for the people who work in the space, as they may emit fewer harmful chemicals or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than traditional materials.

Jaqua: Could you share a few examples of sustainable changes that companies can implement, including ideal materials?

Prastos: There are many sustainable changes that companies can implement in their office spaces, including:
  • Using recycled or reclaimed materials, such as recycled glass, recycled metal, or reclaimed wood, in furniture or decorative accents.
  • Installing energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems to reduce energy consumption and lower the carbon footprint of the space.
  • Incorporating natural materials, such as bamboo or cork, into flooring or wall coverings.
  • Using low-VOC or no-VOC paint and adhesives to improve indoor air quality.
  • Choosing sustainable fabrics, such as organic cotton or hemp, for upholstery and curtains.

Jaqua: What other factors are important to consider when designing your office space?

Prastos: One additional consideration when designing office spaces with sustainable materials is the potential impact of climate change. For example, if the office is located in a flood-prone area, it may be important to choose materials that can withstand water damage and resist mold growth. Similarly, if the office is located in a region with frequent wildfires, it may be important to choose materials that are less flammable. By considering the potential impacts of climate change and choosing materials accordingly, companies can ensure that their office spaces are not only sustainable but also resilient to the effects of climate change.

Related: Sustainability and BEYOND

Survey: 86% of U.S. Adults Feel the Planet is Worth Saving