How can your museum be more sustainable?

Image of three brightly coloured bins, one each for compost, waste and recycle.

If you’ve been thinking of ways you can reduce your museum’s negative environmental impact or you are already on this journey and are looking for more support to do this, I’ve compiled this article to help. Some quick suggestions first, then some more in depth reading at the end of the article…

Quick(ish) wins
  • Change to LED lighting solutions
  • Recycle and compost your waste
  • Reduce paper printed for meetings and use recycled paper
  • Invest in greener cleaning products
  • Use recyclable materials for temporary exhibitions e.g. labels and panels
Other suggestions
  • Develop a sustainability policy or plan, or make sure environmental improvements are included in your forward plan. It’s no longer a requirement to evidence a sustainability policy for the 2018 accreditation standard, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have one anyway if you think it might work for your organisation
  • Below under ‘further reading’ you’ll find a list of retail stock that’s a little more environmentally friendly. If you have the space to explain the story behind your sustainable items, particularly if they are locally sourced, there’s anecdotal evidence that spend on those items will increase.
  • Arrange an energy audit from your utility company to identify and explain issues like energy over-usage or inefficient equipment  
  • Donate any equipment, old display cases, mounts etc. to other museums or local community groups – if you have anything you don’t have a use for anymore, get in touch with me and I can put the word out to other museums in the county

Towards Net Zero Carbon – SHARE grants 
Deadline: Thursday 9 December 2021
SHARE Museums East is supporting museums (in the accreditation scheme) to review and assess their carbon emissions and plan their carbon reduction pathway. Museums can apply for a grant up to a maximum of £1200.

Full guidance and application form here on the SHARE website. If you are unsure if what you are applying for is eligible for a grant please speak to me or with Kathy Moore, SHARE Project Officer –

UK Power Networks – Power Partners Fund
Power Partners | Centre for Sustainable Energy (
Not-for-profit organisations and community groups are invited to apply for sums of between £2,000 and £20,000 for initiatives that combat fuel poverty, or support people in vulnerable circumstances by increasing their energy resilience. Round 5 has closed, but keep an eye out for future rounds.

Rural community energy fund
Rural Community Energy Fund – GOV.UK (
A funding scheme to support rural communities across England wanting to set up renewable energy projects in their area.

Eastern New Energy grants
Eastern New Energy Grants | PECT
The Eastern New Energy project aims to build a stronger Local Energy and Low Carbon Economy in the East of England. Grants will be available to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, to help catalyse capital investments in energy efficiency initiatives. The long-term organisational benefits to participating businesses include reduced operating costs, increased competitiveness, business growth and resilience.

National Lottery Community Fund
The projects we fund | The National Lottery Community Fund (
The National Lottery Community Fund has been a significant funder of environmental projects for 25 years. We believe that community action is a powerful way to address global environmental problems, while improving daily life.


How to plan and deliver carbon reduction in your museum [YouTube recording, SHARE Museums East]

SHARE Museums 2030 10 December
[upcoming event, in person, Cambridge]

Join us and Henry McGhie from Curating Tomorrow. How can museums in East England not only align their work with sustainable development, but help achieve its goals by 2030 and beyond? This event aims to capitalise on the interest in COP26 to build momentum for climate action and other aspects of sustainable development in and with museums.

There will be time for discussion and to look round the Sedgewick and Zoology museums. Lunch is provided.

Further reading

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