Jacqueline Tan, founder and general manager of Nothing But Green
Founded by three mummies with a passion for sustainable living, Nothing But Green is an eco friendly retail cum F&B outlet located in the heart of the city. Stocking a wide range of organic/green/eco friendly products – baby care, personal care, household, clothing, accessories, food and more – it offers both onsite and online shopping to cater to environmentally conscious consumers.
Guided by the philosophy that “every small thing we do can save the world”, the outlet’s deli uses fresh organic ingredients in all its dishes and serves meals that suit most dietary requirements. Items on its menu include sandwiches, salads, wraps, soups as well as Asian favourites like sliced fish soup, chicken rice, and Thai green chicken curry.
To better serve its “green” customers, Nothing But Green recently expanded its range of Earth friendly beauty products to include skin, hair and body care products from Ausganica – an Australian organic beauty brand. Certified “A Grade” by Organic Growers Australia, Ausganica uses 100% plant based ingredients that are not tested on animals.
Rose la vie from Ausganica
Find out what makes Nothing But Green tick in this exclusive Q&A I did with Ms Jacqueline Tan, its co-founder and general manager.
What motivated you to open an environmentally friendly “green” business?
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I did a considerable amount of research into caring for babies and children. The frightening and startling reality of how processed and chemically enhanced food and products can adverse affect our lives hit home hard.
Coupled with the food contamination episodes in recent years, particularly for baby milk formulas in China, I was more determined than ever to change things. I felt then that all of us need to be more educated and aware of the choices we make, whether it’s the food that we consume or the everyday essentials that we use.
How has your journey been like thus far? Any milestones to celebrate?
This has certainly been a challenging, yet rewarding journey. In the beginning, when our first retail store opened in Tanglin Shopping Centre, we were limited in what we could offer as most of the products were also distributed by other similar retailers.
Over time, together with two other partners, we expanded our services by opening a second specialty store in Circular Road, which included a deli as the main feature. It took a while for the Raffles Place crowd to warm up to us. Eventually, however, we managed to establish a regular following.
Social responsibility is also core to our company’s philosophy. Since 2012, we have lent our support to ARC Children’s Centre, a charity that provides valuable day-care to children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
What is the greatest challenge that you have faced in your journey? How did you overcome it?
The greatest challenge I would say is maintaining a sound balance between succeeding as a commercial entity and driving a business with social impact.
We try to achieve the latter by actively engaging the public through participating in community events such as “Bare Your Sole” by Habitat for Humanity, which we did in 2012, Green Drinks Singapore as well as our NBG branded events.
As a small business, we believe synergies are amplified through interaction with other parts of the value chain in the community. A good example of this synergy is our collaboration with Generation Green, a local organic vegetable farm.
A yummy looking vegetable salad from Nothing But Green
What would you say are the unique value propositions of “Nothing But Green”? How would you differentiate your business from others?
We understand that the choices we make and the actions we take, no matter how small, are significant steps towards adopting a more sustainable means of living. Each of us has a responsibility to minimise the impact of our consumerism on our planet’s resources through educated decisions on how we live and what we eat.
This ethos is reflected throughout our business – in how we select our retail products and the ingredients we use for our deli, how we train our staff, and what and how we communicate with our customers.
An example is the authenticity of the ingredients we use in our dishes. Wherever possible, we will use organic ingredients. If this is not possible, we will use a natural substitute. If no natural substitute is available, we will not sell the item. It’s as simple as that. This practice is reflected in our slogan, “As organic as it gets”. This is where we are different from others.
This tofu burger looks delectable doesn’t it?
Describe some of your personal “green” habits.
In our fast paced environment where convenience and speed are key, I believe that it has to start with a mindset shift.
I would advise people to take baby steps, like I did. For example, I will cut down on processed snacks or items that don’t contain many natural or organic ingredients. Stopping to think about it is already a good start. Once you start becoming more aware of what is going on, you will be putting the right stuff into your shopping cart.
It can be extremely challenging to go all-out organic. But we could aim to significantly reduce the levels of non-naturally occurring ingredients in our foods, whether it’s steroids and antibiotics in meat products, or artificial ingredients such as preservatives, flavour enhancers and sweeteners.
If there were three essential foods to start with, I would say meat, fruits and vegetables. Many of us try to take lots of fruits and vegetables for health reasons, but essentially we may be poisoning ourselves. There are a lot of pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. If it is not always practical to go organic with the fruit and vegetables, then soaking them in a natural vegetable cleaner can help to remove pesticides and bacterial residue.
Finally, what are some of your future goals like?
For the short term, we are building more distribution channels for Ausganica. We hope to make this widely available for the mass market. In our deli, we’re finalising details on a service where customers can buy locally grown organic fruit and vegetables. This is part of our effort to support the local food movement.
Down the road, we hope that Nothing But Green will be one of the thought leaders in terms of driving awareness of responsible food and product choices. We also hope for a community-driven effort to establish standards for organic products, be they food or everyday essentials.
Jacqueline and her team at Nothing But Green
For more information on Nothing But Green check out their website, drop them a line, or visit their outlets (retail & deli at 73 Circular Road #01-01, and retail at #02-62/3 of Tanglin Shopping Centre).