Is Elaine Reilly crazy for opening new eco living store, the Sustainability Station in Norwich Lanes, in the current climate? Hardly. After all, all the signs are there to say there’s no planet B…
What led you to starting up the Sustainability Station?
I started the business having spent the last six years or so nagging everyone I know about the changes we can all make in our life and realised for a lot of people they don’t know where to start. That’s how the idea formed and grew.
Describe your life so far
Born in the East End of London to a Norfolk family, life didn’t give me an easy start. Supported by an army of strong women, I studied at UEA, built a career in London and Essex and had a wonderful family. I’ve made many false moves along the way and moved back to my roots about seven years ago. I’m still learning…still growing.
What were you doing beforehand opening the Sustainability Station?
Apart from raising a family, my career has been in hospitality and retail. Even in hospitality I have long been an environmentalist. I think I was the first person in the city to sell water in cans instead of bottles.
Describe your lockdown experience
Lockdown has been a double edged sword. On a personal level it has been difficult being separated from my elderly mother and difficult financially, as it has for so many of us. But it has given me time to recharge and plan. I haven’t had more than a week off in the last five years so I have been able to reboot my energy.
How challenging has it been to start a new business venture in 2020?
People think I’m crazy opening a new business in the current climate and there have been challenges with supplies etc. I hope, though, that the shop reflects the mood of the moment and that that will carry us through.
What local products do you stock?
We have a whole host of locally made items, from wash mitts, hanging baskets and scarves to a range of lovely personal products. Our current local companies are Lulu et compagnie, Radical Botanicals, and Zero Waste Path. We hope to add more as we grow.
Will there be an online shop, too?
Our website and online shop is currently under construction. In the meantime, people can ring for orders. We use Zedify for local deliveries so no traffic pollution.
There’s no plan B, right?
The sign actually says there is no planet B. We are provided with the most wonderful planet and we take it for granted in every aspect of our lives. We need to do everything we can to preserve it for future generations.
What does the future hold?
Future plans are simply to grow this into a successful, community hub.
Do five things:
Elaine recommends making the following small but important changes:
COTTON BUDS – please get rid of those plastic ones and swap to a bamboo alternative
TOOTHBRUSH – the average person in Britain throws away six plastic ones a year and there are more than 60 million of us!
DISHWASHER SPONGES – apart from the fact they breed germs they are going to be in a landfill forever. Swap to coconut, jute or other compostable alternatives
CLINGFILM – horrible stuff. Swap to beeswax or reusable coverings/sandwich bags
WATER BOTTLES – please, please stop buying plastic bottles of the stuff. Take your reusable bottle with you everywhere!