The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget Eco Product Review

The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget is the follow up to the 2007 book The Lazy Environmentalist. While I didn’t review the first one, I did write about it while interviewing the author Josh Dorfman and thought it a very good resource.

The follow-up initially looks like it’ll be just a refresh on the first book with an eye on cost. But as you work your way through the book it turns out it’s much more than that.

Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget

The book was written after Josh’s brother mentioned that while he was confused about green products and what they did (hey, he should read our product reviews!), the main barrier to him going green was the expense.

The book starts with the usual intro and contents and then a chapter on the three ‘R’s’ – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Something any green readers will be familiar with but it’s interspersed with examples, companies and case studies.

Following chapters go into fashion, transport, energy, water, home, cleaning and so on. What each chapter does is talk about the subject, offering a few examples, include a case study or two from companies which offer green services (usually a director or founder is involved) and then finish with a comprehensive list of green companies with a paragraph on each one.

There really is a wealth of information on each subject and the companies are not always obscure ones. Big names are in there such as office store Staples for example, but it focuses on its environmentally friendly green range.

And to see the big names in there is a bit of a relief as the book does tend to rely on company web addresses meaning it will be a bit difficult for those uncomfortable with using the internet to find firms offering the service they want.

What you need to understand is that while the book does focus more on cost and saving money but going green, it is for the ‘lazy environmentalist’. There’s no sense of DIY or putting a bit of effort in to be green. It’s about getting companies to do things for you which of course they won’t do for free. So there’s a balance there between being lazy and cost – I’m sure a lot of suggestions can be done for much cheaper but with much more effort.

With its wealth of shops, case studies and interviews, the book is more of a resource than something you’d read from cover to cover.

The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget is available from Amazon.co.uk for £7.19 and Amazon.com for $8.74.

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Interview with Nigel Berman From Nigel’s Eco Store

We often do interviews at Life Goggles. We like to feature eco-friendly people, pioneers and start-up businesses. A long-standing friend of ours is Nigel’s Eco Store but apart from a few emails we haven’t spoken to Nigel Berman himself. So it was great to put some questions to him and he didn’t disappoint, giving us a long but fascinating interview. And the man can juggle by the looks of it. Enjoy.

Nigel with cutout

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to set up an eco business in 2005?
I trained as a chartered accountant with KPMG in London after leaving university. On qualification I took a couple of years off to go travelling round South East Asia and Australia, came back a bit disorientated, but with a broader mind, and some new ideas. I started a magazine – Insight Network – to communicate what I was finding out. After four years I felt like a change and freelanced as a writer for a couple of years – for magazines like Maxim, She etc, and in 1997, after inspiration from a friend, launched a new free monthly magazine, in Brighton only – New Insight – initially covering mind body spirit and the environment, but later expanding more into arts and culture.

Within a few years the name changed to The Insight and it grew into one of the leading independent freebies in Brighton. I also repositioned the company as an environmentally responsible magazine publisher. In 2005 I brought in an investor, who began to move the company in a new direction – but my heart was elsewhere – I had already set up Nigel’s Eco Store a year earlier and had gone from working on it in my spare time, to part-time, and decided to devote myself to it full time, and left publishing in April 2006.

Nigel’s Eco Store was launched at the beginning of 2005, and was inspired by an article in the Independent about the top ten green household products. During research I discovered a lot of really innovative products – both energy-saving, and also design-oriented. I wanted to show that being green didn’t necessarily have to be a compromise, that there is eco-friendly stuff out there that is attractive, aspirational and desirable – things that I’d be happy to have in my own home, because they look good, and work, whilst minimising impact on the environment.

And that shows that there is a possible positive future on the other side of current challenges, such as rising energy and food prices.

Were there any particular challenges setting up an eco-business?
Probably the main thing is that back then, there were a lot less products available, and the ones available were not very well known, so demand was not as high as now, but otherwise, the challenges were the same as for setting up any business. I started small and it has grown organically.

What standards do you set for the products you sell?
When choosing products for our store, these are the main criteria that we consider. First off, I have to like it! It has to inspiring, functional, stylish, and of course eco friendly in some way – could be it’s energy saving, or in the materials it is made from. Here are some of the criteria that we use:
Energy Saving
Recyclable
Biodegradable/Degradable
Recycled
Sustainable Sources
Re-usable
Low Transport Miles
Low Carbon Footprint

Nigel

Who are your competitors? Other eco-businesses or ‘regular’ retailers?
Both really – it’s a growing market and there are lots of small companies out there doing something similar – an increasing number in fact. Larger companies and regular retailers are also beginning to see the eco market as one worth being in – but they tend to move much more slowly.

What changes have you seen in the market and environmental world as a whole since you started?
Awareness of green issues and green lifestyles has grown massively, especially in the last year or so. Even a couple of years ago people had no idea what we were on about – now everyone has heard of something about the environment and climate change – there’s a huge amount in the media now.

There are also a lot more products coming to market that offer solutions to environmental challenges.

Is it easier to source environmentally-friendly products these days?
Yes, very much so. Mainly produced by smaller companies – from energy saving and water saving products, to recycled stationery, natural cleaning ranges, to bamboo clothing and furniture.

Where do you see the market going?
The market is growing rapidly– total sales of ‘ethical’ (include fairtrade, organic, eco) is growing four times faster than household expenditure and is worth £25 billion a year (source New Consumer 2006). The new generation of products will fall into two areas I think: products that are energy efficient – either using alternative sources of energy eg solar, or running on much lower energy than currently; and products that are made from eco efficient materials and that have considered end of life use.

Who are you customers?
Our customers vary – men and women from all over the country, of all ages – people who want to live a more eco friendly life, or who want to choose something that will make a small positive difference.

One bugbear at Life Goggles is environmentally-friendly products in unenvironmentally-friendly packaging – is that a problem you face?
Most of our suppliers are addressing this problem – so these days lots of products arrive in cardboard packaging rather than plastic.

You sell eco-friendly things but how eco-friendly are you in the office and at home?
We’re pretty good at the office:
• We do not own any company vehicles, and instead use a car club car when necessary and travel by public transport, bicycle or by foot for 90% of journeys.
• Paper re-use and envelope reuse, including using paper printed on one side for draft printing or for internal documents.
• Green procurement where possible for office materials – eg all paper recycled, environmentally friendly cleaning products etc.
• Use mugs / glasses for tea/coffee/drinks rather than disposable cups.
• Separate out recyclables and recycle locally.
• Turn off PC monitors when not in use.
• Turn off PCs and network printers every evening.
• All lights use energy efficient and energy saving lightbulbs.
• Water saving devices are used in toilet cisterns to cut down water used in flushing.
• All electricity is purchased from Good Energy, a green electricity provider.
Likewise at home – we only have low energy lightbulbs, buy electricity from Good Energy, try not to leave anything on standby, use an eco kettle so we boil only what we need, turn the thermostat down, and generally switch things off when not in use.

Why do you have your own blog and do you enjoy writing it?
Most of my working life has been about communication, and media – from editing and publishing, to writing, and even film (I was one of the founders of a Brighton-based film festival).

Apart from finally learning how to use this exciting medium (the internet), if I analyse it I feel I am communicating about the environment and new ideas, but in a different way to before – so the blog is a natural extension of that. It also serves as a place to talk about more general eco themes than we can communicate through the shop, and also to hopefully increase traffic to our site.

Check out his blog and his shop of course at Nigel’s Eco Store.

Green Link Love – Other Great Green Sites

It’s been a while since I last did a list of some interesting green sites, Adam’s fun green roundups take care of that mostly, however there are some more that I wanted to mention. Some of these have come from reader suggestions, so if you have any please let me know, others I found via the excellent StumbleUpon.

Life Goggles Green Link Love Logo

Climate Discussion

Climate Counts is a non-profit organisation that discusses climate change, and has some interesting info on what various companies are doing using their review scorecard.

If video is your thing, The Manpollo Project is a series of videos (45 and counting) discussing climate change. I recommend watching at least the first one to see if it’s for you, it’s actually very well done (argument wise!).

Taking Action

The Big Green Idea has been set up to provide investment in community-based environmental projects in the UK. They have a lot of downloadable factsheets on everything from baking your own bread to building a solar dryer.

Do The Green Thing is a community that tries to make it easy and enjoyable to be a bit greener. Every month they give you a a different Green Thing to do, for example January’s is “Take the stairs”. It seems pretty interesting in spirit but is a little confusing in execution (though that could just be me…).

A sort of green X-Prize, The Big Green Challenge is a competition with a £1 million prize fund to come up with new approaches that will lead to a 60% reduction of CO2 emissions in your local community.

Another site beginning with “eco”… (I’d be surprised if there are any domain names left with eco at the start), if you’ve already calculated your carbon footprint, you can also work out your ecological footprint at Ecofoot. It’s US-biased, and some questions are tricky (“How much of the food that you eat is processed, packaged and not locally grown (from more than 200 miles away)?”) but it’s worth taking a look.

Shopping

If you’re in New Zealand, then EcoPeople is a social enterprise business that sells natural products. It operates as a charitable trust that tries to increase employment opportunities for people with experience of mental illness.

If organic gardens are your thing, then an instant organic garden from Rocket Gardens in the UK might be your thing. It’s a box full of baby organic vegetable and herb plants packed in straw. All you have to do is plant them.

At home

How can I recycle this? is a cool English blog that answers your questions on how to recycle certain products. e.g. How do I recycle an old snowboard? Suggestion: use it as a funky shelf?

Previously we’ve talked about search engines that donate to charity and carbon neutral search, well FriendsGreen is a search engine that “fights global warming”. The money they make from you using their custom Google search engine goes to a variety of projects such as the Adopt An Acre Program of the Nature Conservancy.

Let us know if you find any great links 🙂

Latest Green News

Happy New Year everyone! All the best to you all for the coming year 🙂

Lots of little pieces of news to pass on to you today.

According to the Red Cross, the number of global disasters has soared by 60% in the past 10 years. Between 1997 and 2006 there were 6,806 disasters, affecting over 1.2m people.

The amount of Arctic sea ice at the end of the summer was half the level of what it was four years ago, raising fears that it could disappear by 2012.

A new process called PDX uses 40% less energy in the manufacture of beer. It uses steam to speed up the brewing process.

Bob Gedolf has strongly supported the use of nuclear power as the only viable alternative to fossil fuels for our energy demands.

New York’s taxis are to to be forced to achieve at least 25mpg if bought after October 2008, and 30mpg if bought in 2009. Whether this will just mean older and older taxis on the streets will remain to be seen.

The UK Government has announced plans to build 7,000 wind turbines along Britain’s coast which would supply one third of the country’s electricity needs by 2020.

Organic turkey sales will top £1m at Marks and Spencer alone in the UK over the Christmas period.

Researchers from the World Land Trust warn that growing biofuel crops could harm the environment as up to nine times the carbon dioxide will be released. This is because biofuel crops are oftne grown on land that is burnt and reclaimed from tropical forests.

The 100 Ways To Save The Planet Video Is Launched

Ta-dah! Following the success of our 100 Ways To Save The Planet eBook, we’ve turned it into a video. It’s a nice, relaxing watch and another way to get the message out there so feel free to send it to anyone and everyone. The link is: http://www.revver.com/watch/501547/.

And that’s not the end of it. We’re working on the next generation of the 100 Ways which will be followed up by a new, improved version of the eBook in the months to come – there’s no end to the ways you can go green!