Posted 26th April 2019
What we're doing
The environment is close to our hearts here at Watts Gallery - Artists' Village. When our Grade I and II* listed Arts & Crafts buildings were first constructed, provisions were put in place to ensure that they functioned sustainably and with minimal impact on the surrounding landscape. For 114 years, we have been recycling rainwater, harvested via an underground cistern, for use in maintaining our gardens and woodlands. More recently, we've planted allotments that help to feed our Tea Shop, and installed a ground source heat pump and a sewage recycling system.
Today, nestled as we are in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we are acutely aware of our responsibility to care for and preserve the local environment for future generations.
This is why we have established a group of staff tasked with finding ways - big and small - to reduce the organisation's carbon footprint and to adopt more sustainable working methods. On this page, learn about some of our achievements so far, as well as the ways in which we are trying to improve.
In the Tea Shop, takeaway cups, cutlery and straws are all made from bio-degradable materials, ensuring we keep our use of single-use plastics to a minimum. In addition, every member of staff was last year given a reusable coffee cup, meaning staff use of the Tea Shop's takeaway cups has been almost entirely phased out.
The same is true in the Shop where, since the Artist's Village's renovation in 2011, we have in collaboration with the Art Fund been using paper bags instead of plastic; that's over 100,000 plastic bags we've avoided using. Additionally, all of the barcode labels on the products we sell in the Shop are made from recycled cardboard.
We also ensure that the paper we use to make our other printed materials, including all the leaflets and posters that you can find dotted around the Artists' Village, are FSC certified. This means that the Forest Stewardship Council has guaranteed that, from forest to manufacturer, the paper has been sourced and produced sustainably.
Water use in the Tea Shop wash-up area has been reduced by approximately 50% thanks to the installation of a new rinsing spray jet wash.
The waste we do generate here is managed by Chambers, a Guildford-based organisation whose specialised sorting and separation system prioritises recycling. In January of this year, Chambers diverted from landfill 99.8% of our and other local organisation's waste materials.
Strength in numbers
In 2018, we partnered with Julie's Bicycle, a charity set up to support the creative community to act on climate change and environmental sustainability. Over the course of a year, we measure our use of water, electricity, and our waste output, and report these numbers to Julie's Bicycle, who offers guidance and suggestions for how we can improve. We are also members of their Creative Green programme, which enables museums and cultural organisations to share ideas and learn from one another.
As part of our ambition to contribute to and maintain the thriving eco-system right on our doorstep we've installed 4 bee hives near Limnerslease, whose inhabitants will help pollinate a surrounding area of at least one square mile.
We've installed a new set of bicycle racks across our estate, enabling and encouraging visitors to travel to us using clean transport.
Within the organisation, we've appointed a Trustee Environmental Sustainability Champion to sit on the Board, and a Volunteer ambassador to promote sustainability among our 250+ volunteers.
In the face of a changing climate, these small steps are part of an initiative to improve awareness within our culture locally at the Artists' Village, as we strive to become a frontrunner for environmentally sustainable practice among museums in the South East.
But we can still do more. If you have ideas for how we might improve, or any kind of feedback on our sustainability actions, we would love to hear from you. Contact Tom Cornelius, Environmental Sustainability Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.