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How our Partners are addressing sustainability through innovation and environment

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Following the release of VisitBritain’s forecast for the year ahead - which has identified that history, heritage, vibrant spaces and warm welcomes are set to be at the top of the agenda for visitor experiences in 2023 - The People & Places Partnership Ltd has also added that there will be an increased focus on sustainability. Not only of places themselves but their communities and businesses too.

High Streets Expert and Director at The People & Places Partnership, Chris Wader FIPM, said on LinkedIn: “One of the key emerging themes that we at The People & Places Partnership Ltd. see with our partners for 2023, is an increasing focus on the sustainability of places, their communities and businesses. In her guest blog, our associate Anne Snelson BSc DipM MBA, founder of Lead With Sustainability, looks at using this positively by boosting high streets through sustainable action.

“Topically, the blog follows the launch of the Government-commissioned, independent Mission Zero report, which sets out to explain the opportunity and benefits of increased sustainability to individuals and the economy.”

For many, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. As Anne cites in her blog, ‘adoption of sustainable lifestyles is increasing significantly. Searches on “carbon neutrality” have almost doubled in a year (+92%) and there have been similar increases in food waste (+89%), recycling and plastic usage (+60%)’.

There are countless reasons why businesses should look to become more sustainable in the coming months, not least because of the threat of climate change, but for the health of their bank accounts too. With high streets still recovering post-covid, effective ways to cut costs and reduce waste make sense in countless ways.

Anne goes on to discuss how businesses and town centres can, together, lead the way sustainably. But what about Lincolnshire? We asked a trio of businesses what they’re doing to tackle sustainability and what their goals are for 2023…

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Attraction | International Bomber Command Centre

With 9.5 acres of landscaped gardens complimenting the award-winning attraction offering at IBCC, CEO Nicky Van Der Drift is keen to enhance the importance of the outside space by applying to become a Green Flag accredited business - as well as being carbon neutral by 2030 at the latest.

“A lot of people who come here, come to walk. There is a Falklands veteran for example who comes regularly, a Naval veteran who at 17 years old saw the Royal Navy Ship, Sir Galahad, go down. Our gardens are a place that gives solace to a wide number of people,” explains Nicky.

“We already meet the full Green Flag criteria - being pedestrianised, electric charging points, bike racks, PV panels. – but we need to formally apply. We’re also aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030 at the very latest.

“We've won awards for our international appeal, customer experience, the team, and IBCC as an attraction, but one of our biggest resources - the gardens - hasn't yet been recognised. That's what I'd like to change. There aren't that many Green Flag holders in our county, and I would very much like IBCC to be one.

“It encompasses all the work we do across the community, the environment, accessibility, and it would also bring us closer to making IBCC a place renowned for remembrance in general, not just for those of Bomber Command.”

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Hospitality | Stokes Tea & Coffee

A family-run business that has been passionate about delivering excellence and quality since 1902, Stokes of Lincoln works hard to not just focus on profit, operating responsibly, ethically, and sustainably. Respecting the environment and buying responsibly is one of the values at the heart of Stokes, so much so that they hope it inspires change in their people, partners, customers, community, and businesses. They even source coffee from the most sustainable farm in Brazil!

When it comes to sustainability, Stokes is already aiming to minimise environmental impacts in the areas of waste, water, energy, and air quality.

Recently, the business introduced a scheme known as Zero Waste which cuts down on packaging by delivering coffee and tea to customers in re-useable buckets. The buckets can be used repeatedly, and they keep products perfectly fresh and in peak condition without the need for packaging. Offering products in buckets rather than in packaging can potentially save over sixty bags on just one order.

This scheme is one of many things the Stokes team is doing to minimise waste. They are also:

  • Investing in recyclable packaging.
  • Supporting the free top-up refill water scheme.
  • Planting trees.
  • Using upcycled materials to refurbish their premises.
  • Roasting our coffee with an eco-friendly coffee roaster to cut the use of natural gas and CO2 emissions.
  • Using energy-saving lighting and equipment.
  • Investing in smart heating systems and sharing best practices on energy-saving methods including for heritage buildings, with other organisations.
  • Re-purposing coffee grounds and sacks.
  • Serving the finest and freshest locally sourced ingredients to support local producers and cut down on food miles.
  • Introducing a sustainability journey of ‘measure, manage, reduce, and certify’ at each café location.
  • Having signed up to make sure that any surplus food can be shared rather than binned through the Too Good To Go scheme.
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Accommodation | Elms Farm Cottages

Already a Green Tourism member, Elms Farm Cottages has been working on its sustainability credentials since it first opened the doors to its ten beautifully converted cottages and stables back in 2004.

Having created a happy niche for the business - surrounded by beautiful rural Lincolnshire, in Hubbert’s Bridge near Boston - Elms Farm Cottages owner Carol Emerson says sustainability was something they focused on early on, for guests to join in with the business’s eco-journey.

“For us, it all began with establishing that connection back to our surroundings – the countryside. Wildflower meadows, nature walks, hedgerows and tree planting were all high on the agenda for us when the business’s foundations were being laid. Even rebuilding the cottages from the old farm buildings, we utilised as many materials as possible that were already on site and opted for sheep’s wool insulation which, at the time, was leading technology,” said Carol.

“From the LED lighting and the EV chargers to the dual flush toilets, paraben-free toiletries, eco cleaning products, and the reed bed sewerage treatment plant we have on-site, we are working in so many ways to make the business as environmentally friendly as possible.

“On the farm building we optimise solar panels as well as a wind turbine, which when combined cover around 80% of our energy usage – heating and lighting the cottages year-round, and during the summer months supporting other work across the farm too.

“Local food is another aspect we champion here, not only promoting our local producers - those who lovingly craft Boston sausages, Lincolnshire plum bread and Lincolnshire’s amazing cheeses for example - but sharing their stories with our guests so they can pass on that knowledge, decreasing food miles and our overall reliance on big chain supermarkets too.

“We’re also a member of Cycle Lincolnshire, with secure cycle storage to encourage guests to explore on two wheels rather than four. We’ll be hosting a Cycle Lincolnshire workshop in the spring and would love to see as many businesses as possible there – they can register interest with Helen at Cycle Lincolnshire. Even the coast and Skegness are accessible via bike – with a train station opposite the cottages guests can hop on a train, take their bikes, and explore the coast too.

“One thing I would like to work on in the future is adding to the nature signs we created when we founded the business – signposting guests to the wildlife and nature we have in abundance in the area – to extend that content in an interactive way to get families actively exploring the area on more trails.”

As extensive as Elms Farm Cottages’ sustainable approach is, the above doesn’t even cover everything. A recycling station exists on site too, as well as benches made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles – a feature that has seen more than 25,000 recycled plastic bottles put to good use!


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