Supplier case studies
Our Green Wedding List - green wedding gift lists
Name: Holly Aquilina
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business
I am a normal 35 year old woman, living in a normal 1930's house in a small town in Sussex. I have always been aware of things ethical and green, partly because of the location of Greenpeace HQ in my hometown as a child and the friends of my parents, most of whom were ethically and environmentally responsible.
My businesses are founded on the idea that ‘green' and ‘ethical' shouldn't be seen as something additional or special, but an integral part of the consumer choices of all - i.e. green and ethical should be ‘normal'.
I run two businesses - weddinglistgiving.com a fundraising site for couples who feel that they already have enough and would like to mark their wedding day with donations to charity instead; and for those who would like gifts (but gifts with a conscience) I run ourgreenweddinglist.com an online and hopefully, easy to use, eco and ethical wedding list, which is part of goodgreengifts.com my broader online green and ethical gift shop.
What or who inspires you?
So many people.... Of course there are high profile role models who I find inspiring such as HRH The Prince of Wales (perhaps surprisingly) who has always been mocked by the press for his green/ethical credentials but who I think has been ahead of his time in terms of his outlook and views and does a huge amount of green work within the business sector and internationally. Or Chico Mendez who was a Brazilian environmental activist who fought to stop logging in the Amazon rainforest for alternative use for cattle ranches and was murdered for his views by ranchers.
However, even more inspiring are people who live ethically and in an environmentally conscious way on a daily basis without recognition for this: the couples who use my charity wedding list or green gift list site are inspiring in their choice, people who are committed to recycling their bottles and paper or who don't forget to take their shopping bags out with them (!), friends who refuse to shop in supermarkets, unsung heroes who have ideas and are brave enough to pursue them (like our own Katie Fewings of Ethical Weddings) or a friend Susan Cerezo who lives in France and has been an eco-campaigner through endless projects. I could go on...
What do you enjoy most about running your business?
A cliché but probably the people that I encounter through it. Needless to say the people who work for the charities or the makers and suppliers of green products are all people with strong principles and motivation which (to me) makes them interesting and wonderful. On the other side of the business (client side) it is also lovely to be involved in the wedding sector, which is a happy sector and it is always lovely to feel that you are adding to the happiness!
What is the most challenging aspect?
It is hard to compete with the big corporate players as I don't have the funding that they have, so finding the financial resources to market effectively is also tricky. I try to overcome this by ensuring that what I am offering is high quality in terms of service and in the case of the green list, products.
Initially, I found it surprising that ethical and eco products were often poor quality. There was almost an idea that you should buy ethical goods whatever the quality simply because they were ethical or green. Sourcing products is becoming less problematic and I am finding it easier to identify well designed, good quality products.
What do you feel you bring to an ethical wedding?
Hopefully, easy access to ethical and eco consumerism in the form of an easy-to-use online wedding list. It is good to think of newlyweds unpacking their eco gifts and starting married life with a house full of happy products and gadgets.
How do you see the wedding industry changing over the next five years (if at all)?
The recession will be interesting. Although, obviously, I hope that people don't suffer, I am rather hopeful that it will help to make consumers more conscious and careful about their purchase choices - buying what they need instead of what they want, buying better quality and more sustainable goods as opposed to short shelf life items, maybe (fingers crossed) buying UK made or small business made products to support the UK economy. Hopefully, this will also apply to the wedding sector, and it would be great to think that those getting married may start to plan their weddings with greater care and forethought about the impact of the consumer choices involved in their wedding planning process.
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