The Nigel of Nigel's Eco Store
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Date: 23 June, 2009
One of Nigel's cartoons
'My work life has been a journey – though some of it may seem unconnected, it has all been about communications, creativity and problem solving.'
Suzanne Elvidge meets Nigel Berman, of Nigel's Eco Store fame
When I started writing up this interview I did a Google search for ‘Nigel’ – not only does it take you to Wikipedia (it’s an English male name of Anglo-Norman origin), it also points you to Nigel’s Eco Store, set up in 2005 by Nigel Berman.
Nigel set up his eponymous eco store in 2005 as a natural extension of both his career to date and his interest in all things eco.
“I spent three years at KPMG, which taught me about businesses and professionalism, and then I travelled for two years, including to Australia and Asia, where I learned about different ways of thinking and discovered that I enjoyed working creatively. It also confirmed my interest in nature and the environment.”
On his return, Nigel set up a magazine called Insight Network. He freelanced for a few years, and then in 1997 created a free magazine for Brighton, called New Insight, focusing on eco and environmental issues.
Though he doesn’t describe himself as a campaigner or activist, Nigel became concerned about climate change about ten years ago after talking to a friend who runs an environmental NGO.
“My work life has been a journey – though some of it may seem unconnected, it has all been about communications, creativity and problem solving.”
Creation of the store
Nigel started Nigel’s Eco Store in the spare time from his publishing work. “I had no retail experience, and basing the store on the internet rather than in a bricks-and-mortar shop seemed like a low cost way of giving it a go – it meant I could start in a small way.
"Having a publication and communications background also made an internet shop seem like a natural move.”
Once the boxes got too much for his home, Nigel’s Eco Store moved into a small shop in Brighton. “I used this as a base for the internet site. However, we didn’t have the footfall to make it a success, and we realised what we really needed was a warehouse.”
“Our challenge as a company is to walk the talk – to put our values into practice and make them work operationally. We have decorated with eco-friendly paints and varnishes, and we reuse paper and recycle as many things as we can.
"We use low energy lighting and we switch everything off where possible.” The company has made a decision against company cars, preferring to encourage the use of public transport.
Being green in the credit crunch
All businesses are finding the economic climate difficult, but Nigel is cautiously optimistic. “It’s actually an opportunity to work with individuals and businesses to put forward a green message – that saving energy can save people money.
"We can also remind people that being green isn’t about buying new things, it’s about looking after the things that we have, and about buying better quality and sustainable things when we need to. Sustainability is at the heart of saving resources.”
What’s the next eco-friendly innovation?
“I think we will see a growth in solar and wind microgeneration for individuals and communities – it’s too expensive for many people at the moment, but will become more practical as there is an increase in both demand and necessity. I think we will also see a growth in ‘make your own’ and ‘grow your own’.
And one last thing…
“What is the one thing I would like people to do – well, shop with me, of course!” Nigel’s three key suggestions for simply reducing carbon footprints – reduce the use of household energy, for example using eco kettles (and use a green power supplier); reduce food miles; and use greener forms of transport.
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