This new year, 2022, marks a key turning point in tackling the climate emergency as the UN works towards its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Such global initiatives have informed Wessex Archaeology’s commitment, as a leading cultural heritage organisation, to protect and enhance the value of the historic environment, meeting the needs of the present without compromising those of the future.

To celebrate, we’ve been speaking to our talented Finds Team, who’ve been telling us more about how they’re developing sustainable teams and sustainable practices.

Jasmine Porter, a Find Assistant Supervisor based in our Sheffield office, reveals the process of securing our sustainable practices:

"2022 has seen a big change for the finds department here in Sheffield as we are hitting the ground running with a ‘New Year, New Us’ mentality!

Last year we saw finds coming back in in all sorts of containers, including sample buckets which are much needed by our environmental team. To try and counteract this and make things easier for site teams we created our blue finds crates. The blue finds crates are labelled storage boxes that are numbered and assigned to sites each week, they contain everything a site might need for finds retrieval and secure transport, as well as helpful guides and our contact information. Every Monday the field teams collect the box that has been assigned to their site and every Friday return it (hopefully full of finds). We hope that this will help site staff as the boxes are easier to transport and provide a designated place to store finds during the week. Within the blue crates we will also be putting a poster of the current Sheffield Finds Champions so that they are easily identifiable on site. The Champion scheme is designed to give extra support and help field teams liaise with office teams – the pilot of this is the Finds Champions which we are hoping will gain in momentum during 2022."

New blue finds boxes to make our work processes more sustainable

"The changes don’t stop there either as our team is trying to become more environmentally conscious this year. We already recycle all the paper and plastic we can, use chalk pens to label finds trays to save using tags, and started using bamboo toothbrushes for processing finds, but in 2022 we want to do more!

We are looking into trialling biodegradable finds bags to be sent to sites for finds retrieval to cut down the amount of non-biodegradable/recyclable plastics we use. This simple change could reduce our plastic use by around half, as the bags we get from sites are not reused, and after the quantification stage get re-bagged into archive stable bags for long term storage. We are even planning to go further and look at companies who will recycle the Tyvek tags that we use, so watch this space!"