Environmental Sustainability Policy

Manchester Historic Buildings Trust (MHBT) who owns and operates Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, aims to develop, conserve and manage the House and garden as a sustainable heritage resource for people (in Greater Manchester, the UK and internationally) to learn about, and participate in, the heritage associated with this historic building and its links to Elizabeth Gaskell and her family.

Purpose and Aims of this policy

The aim of this policy is to ensure that all those who work or volunteer at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House understand and actively promote the importance of environmental sustainability and to ensure Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is sustainably resourced for the benefit of future generations.

Who is covered by this policy?

This policy covers all staff, volunteers, trustees and freelance staff who work at the Museum on a permanent or fixed term contract.

Policy

MHBT is committed to long term sustainability through the following areas;

1. Reducing our impact on the environment

2. Working with and supporting the local community

We review this commitment every two years and look for ways to improve across energy consumption, waste management, purchasing, transport, The Local Environment and Wildlife, community and communication.

What we are currently doing

Energy

  • Where new appliances and light bulbs are being purchased ensure that low energy versions are chosen, replacing older non-LED lighting wherever possible, whilst continuing to monitor and control energy consumption.
  • The central heating system is set on timers and measures are in place to conserve heat such as closing shutters and curtains when the House is closed.
  • Measures to reduce drafts around doors and windows were implemented in 2023.
  • If the House doesn’t need to be opened then staff are able to work from home.
  • Lights in certain areas of the building such as the toilets are switched-off and only switched-on when needed.
  • Monitors, laptops and electrical equipment are switched fully off, when not in use.

Waste management

  • All waste is separated to ensure that paper, cardboard, plastic and glass can be recycled.
  • Packing materials (acid free tissue paper and boxes) for collection items in storage are reused when possible.
  • Old equipment, unwanted craft supplies and other equipment is either sold, free-cycled, given to charity or where not recyclable is disposed of responsibly at authorised re-cycling sites.
  • Minor broken crockery or chipped glasses (that are still usable) are sold as mismatched crockery in a 50p basket in the Tea Room.
  • Padded envelopes and bubble wrap are reused to wrap items sold in the Shop and used for packaging for online shop sales (volunteers asked to bring in their unwanted A5 envelopes)
  • Cakes and bread rolls frozen until needed to avoid food waste.
  • Any defrosted cake not sold before its use by date is given to volunteers and staff
  • Any food past its ‘best before’ data is reduced in price and is not thrown away.


Purchasing

  • MHBT aims to use products, production methods and practices that are low carbon where possible.
  • Over 5 years we have more than halved the amount of physically printed material produced to promote the House and events.
  • Any material is printed onto paper that has been FSC certified.
  • Where possible we use local suppliers for the Tea Room and shop and local connections are actively promoted.
  • Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are Fair Trade certified
  • All the crockery used in the Tea Room is second-hand and has been donated or purchased from charity shops.
  • Donations of second-hand books are encouraged for the monthly book sale.
  • Ecover dishwasher tablets, liquid hand-soap and washing up liquid are purchased in large containers and smaller containers refilled
  • No single use plastics are used or sold from the Tea Room.
  • No drinks in plastic containers are sold.
  • Tap water is offered free of charge. No bottle water is sold.
  • Cordial drinks are sold by the glass/cup with a free refill.
  • Disposable cups are not offered but Tea Room staff/volunteers will refill reusable cups.
  • Royal Mail Click and Drop service is used to send parcels for the online shop. Royal Mail have the UK’s lowest average carbon footprint per parcel.

Transport

  • Visitors, staff and volunteers are encouraged to use public transport and data on how people travel to the House is collected via feedback surveys
  • Volunteers can claim up to £5 per day to travel to and from the house which encourages the use of public transport.
  • The house has bike racks and is on a bus route.
  • Public transport information is actively promoted via the website and on leaflets.
  • Volunteers encouraged to car share where possible
  • EGH is open to partnership opportunities with transport providers and was actively involved in Amazing Women by Rail project, hosting the launch event. https://www.amazingwomenbyrail.org.uk/

The Local Environment and Wildlife

  • The garden is maintained by a team of volunteers and includes a variety of native shrubs, trees and plants.
  • Visitors are encouraged to walk through the garden and there is a specific trail aimed at children and families which highlights facts about sustainability and family-friendly ideas about reducing carbon emissions and ways to encourage wildlife and plant life at home.
  • The trail can be accessed via QR codes or a paper version.
  • Surplus plants are sold from the shop, using recycled plant pots.

Community

  • Committed to support the annual Swinton Park community events such as the Christmas Light Switch on and a free entry day for M13 residents
  • Committed to working with the neighbouring school and community to encourage volunteering and involvement with the house.

Communication

  • We will share and promote our sustainable commitment with staff, volunteers and visitors.
  • Three members of staff and a trustees trained in Carbon Literacy. Staff and volunteers encouraged to do Carbon Literacy and other relevant training when available.
  • Green Ambassador within the volunteer team

Approved by MHBT Board of Trustees: January 2024

And we've got a house. Yes! we really have

Elizabeth Gaskell, 1850