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A woman and two small children are looking over a wooden edge of a flower bed towards large green leafy plants, in a Garden.

Climate and ecology

We are in the midst of a global climate and ecological emergency unprecedented in human history.

We believe that there is still an opportunity to mitigate against this crisis and that the Horniman has a moral and ethical imperative to act now. 

In July 2019 we declared a climate and ecological emergency. In January 2020 we announced our Climate and Ecology Manifesto, which outlines our platform for action and the steps the Horniman will take to mitigate against the climate and ecological emergency, and to help shape a positive future for generations to come.

Our pledges include:

  • an ambitious Nature and Love project to redisplay our natural history and living collections to highlight climate and ecological issues to a wider audience
  • reducing pollution, including the intention to be Greenhouse Gas neutral by 2040
  • creating an Environmental Champions Club to inspire and support visitors to make their own changes
  • appointing a Climate and Ecological Action Coordinator, a new role dedicated to making the changes happen.

Read our manifesto and download our sustainability policy:

What have we already done?

There are many ways in which the Horniman is already working to reduce our environmental impact and be as ‘green’ as we can. Here are some examples:

  • We’ve signed up to Count Us In, a project to inspire 1 billion people to significantly reduce their carbon pollution and challenge leaders to deliver bold, global change.
  • Our Café has replaced single-use plastic products with plant-based and commercially compostable Vegware, including disposable coffee cups, takeaway boxes, sandwich wrappers and straws. We have also replaced bottled water with CanO Water
  • We have two drinking fountains on site – a Victorian fountain near the Bandstand and a new water refill point near the main entrance, one of more than 20 across London provided by #OneLess and the Mayor of London, as part of the London Drinking Fountain Fund. The Café also offers free tap water refills.
  • The Café serves fair trade tea and coffee, locally sourced meat, free-range eggs and fish from sustainable sources, as well as local beer and cakes.
  • The weekly Horniman Market sells products direct from independent and local producers including seasonal fruit and veg, and organic meat, plus additional regular stalls specialising in zero waste, ethical craft and eco clothing and design. See the current stallholders.
  • In 2018 we introduced a charge for plastic bags in our shop, with proceeds supporting Project Coral. In 2019 we trialled single-use paper bags instead of plastic, and from 1 April 2020 our shop will no longer supply any single-use bags to customers. 
  • The shop stocks a number of fair trade items, as well as working with UK artisans and makers to create unique products inspired by the Horniman’s collections.
  • Around 97% of our Gardens waste is composted, and then reused in the Gardens, and we have an on-site Ridan composter to process food waste from our Café into mulch for our Gardens.
  • Each year around 187,000 litres of water from the Aquarium’s water filters are re-used for watering the Gardens. This water is a waste product which can’t be used in the aquarium due to impurities and sensitivity of the fish and corals, but it’s perfect for the plants.
  • We take care to ensure that our Nature Trail – the oldest in London – and our Gardens are a haven for wildlife. We have bat boxes, birdhouses and bug hotels, as well as protected plant species such as mistletoe.
  • We are a Green Flag venue and hold a Green Tourism Gold Award.
  • The Horniman Gardens are part of the Green Chain Walk, and are regularly visited by the Lewisham Healthy Walks group.
As a much-loved and trusted institution - and the only museum in London in which nature and culture can be viewed together - we feel we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to use our collections, our indoor and outdoor spaces, and our relationship with our visitors, to create a movement for positive environmental change.
Nick Merriman, Horniman Chief Executive