Petra Mattsson is the new environment and sustainability manager at Gärsnäs. She will be the company’s engine that drives the work related to the vision of becoming climate neutral and circular by 2030. Step by step, it is becoming a reality. “It’s great and gratifying to work at Gärsnäs, to be here and see things take shape.” Previously, she worked as a sustainability consultant, jumping in and helping companies start up their action plans, but almost never being around to see the result years later. Now she can improve things from the inside and follow processes in the long term. At the start of her employment, she is getting to know the company, the people, getting to grips with the environmental system, going through the documentation, routines, policies and thinking about how to improve things and integrate them with operations. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a lot at Gärsnäs. For example, transports to Stockholm take place without packing boxes and cartons, just the minimum of material.” Clever solutions everywhere, that’s the model. “It’s both fun and challenging, but we know where we are and where we’re going.”
Becoming climate neutral and circular requires deliberate measures, step by step. For a furniture maker, that means, for example, materials, energy and transport. “We can also focus more on what we as co-workers can do to achieve our objectives and vision. What can we come up with and accomplish in our various roles?” Petra is considering internal environmental training, workshops and other activities that will engage the whole company in the environmental work.
There is much to be done on the circular part of the vision. Here the challenges include material choice, design and construction, new business models and creating circular furniture flows together with customers and suppliers. “It’s about finding new, innovative solutions,” she says and mentions tanning, which has long been a process heavy on chemicals, but today can be done with environmentally friendly tanning substances using bark or olive leaves. She has a positive ethos; there is always an alternative.
Petra’s interest in the environment started in childhood. She grew up “in the sticks” namely the Ekerö forests near Stockholm and her parents have always shown respect for nature. “When I was younger, I thought the environment issue was heavy and depressing, so I blocked it out for a while.” But through courses in design and sustainable development in Växjö and Uppsala, she learned how much can be done differently. She now has a solid professional background in sustainability and ecology, has worked with environmental organisations, including the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, among others, as an environment and sustainability consultant, as well as issues related to the forests. Here too, there are new ways to wisdom. “How can a furniture producer influence and necessitate biological diversity in the forest?”
The new job at Gärsnäs comes at the same time as her partner, Gustav Larsson, becomes the carpenter in the workshop for prototypes and models. They have both been living in Fiskars in Finland for three years, where Petra freelanced as a journalist among other things, with a focus on sustainability issues and worked for an environmental organisation, while Gustav was a carpenter. Then the excellent opportunity arrived for both to come and work at the factory in Österlen. On Fridays, however, Petra is free. She goes out with the dogs and paints watercolours of endangered species from The Swedish Red List. Last spring, she exhibited at Naturum on Lake Hornborga. Who knows, maybe she’ll also exhibit her pictures in the Gärsnäs gallery?