Solvay Citizen Day 2021 colleagues are promoting biodiversity at work and home

If you feel like protecting biodiversity is like moving mountains, maybe a fresh look at your backyard can make you change your mind. Nicole Perreault, Innovation Excellence Director at Solvay Stamford in Connecticut, explains how she’s been reshaping hers to great results.

Did you know that many of the world’s centenarians share an interest in gardening? For those of you lucky enough to have a garden, taking care of it will boost your mood, reduce your stress levels and improve your quality of life… for longer. But what if you could both enjoy these benefits and share them with local wildlife?

Nicole shows us how a simple garden can be turned into a haven for biodiversity without much more than a few informed landscaping choices, some tools and her own two hands. 

I joined Solvay as I wanted to work at a company that puts their values into action and enables their employees to do the same.

Nicole Perreault, Innovation Excellence Director

Wild about ecology

“A few years ago, I moved from a townhome to a house overlooking ponds and wetlands. It was all about maintaining an easy commute while being in a more rural environment. But I’ll admit that, once I moved into my new house, the closeness to the animals, birds and natural vegetation shocked me a little bit. Never before had I seen a bobcat walk into the backyard, nor opened my windows to listen to the spring peepers or watched a snapping turtle in search of the perfect nest,” she explains.

The other thing Nicole quickly noticed is how, no matter what she tried, keeping these surprise guests away from her plants was a waste of effort. She started looking at them in a different way, focusing not on the few bites they’d take out of a few plants each year, but rather on how reenergizing walking around her yard had become.

To attract even more of the local wildlife, Nicole decided to do some landscaping.

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“When I first moved in, most plants and grasses were not native to the area. I decided to swap them out with native plants that attract pollinators such as butterfly weed, coneflowers and columbine weed. This year I began to alter the shrubs in my yard as well, planting mountain laurels, blueberries on the hillside and dogwood trees within the garden. I have definitely seen an impact on the variety and number of butterflies and birds in and around my yard,” she says.

Whilst she quickly found out that her neighbors weren’t nearly as prone to gardening as she was, Nicole still gets to exchange ideas and best practices with some friends and members of her family. In fact, this interest in nature has an impact on everything she does, from work-related decisions to her engagement within the local community. 

“I joined Solvay as I wanted to work at a company that puts their values into action and enables their employees to do the same. As my job focuses upon developing a robust innovation portfolio, my biodiversity awareness surely impacts how I look at and assess our projects. I’m always striving to improve and shape our portfolio so as to meet our sustainability goals. It’s with the same spirit that I volunteer within my community to make garden planters out of recycled materials,” she adds.

As Citizen Day rolls out, Nicole hopes to keep spreading her passion, learning from others and finding new ways to make a difference. In the meantime, she’ll keep working in her garden because, as she says herself, “a small effort can make a big difference, even if it is just in our own backyard.”