Supplier case studies
The Lazy Environmentalist - green wedding gift lists
Name: Polly Higgins
Location: London, UK
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business
I set up The lazy Environmentalist out of frustration at not finding an eco-emporium that sold the kind of gifts and homeware that I wanted - ones that were not only sustainable but that were of high quality and beautifully made by people who cared about the full lifecycle of their products.
To reflect that commitment, each product has its own Eco-Footprint displayed so that you know how each item has a reduced impact on the environment through the type of dyes used, the materials used, how it was made and how it got here. The same commitment to limiting environmental impact runs through every aspect of my business.
What or who inspires you?
Anita Roddick, Wangari Maathai, Rachel Carson, Rosalie Edge, the Chipko Tree Huggers to name a few. They are all Wise Women - women who inspired me to go on and set up my Women in Sustainability and the Environment (WISE Women) Network - you can read about them on wisewomen.me.uk/inspiration
Also Billy Connolly - he's not a woman, but he does wear a skirt on occasion and is very funny.
What do you enjoy most about running your business?
The creativity and the knowledge gained. It was and continues to be a creative experience for me, in particular the eco-stories behind each product and creator, the photography, the learning about new eco-friendly processes of production.
It has made me realise that there are always better ways of doing things - systems that can be used that are more benign to the planet.
What is the most challenging aspect?
Informed consumerism needs to grow far wider. Women in particular make most of the purchasing decisions in the family, be it for themselves, their partners, their children, at Christmas and every day. It's about providing more better made, more environmentally friendly products, and making them mainstream. Be it the soap you buy, the underwear you choose, the car you drive - there is so much scope for better more earth-friendly alternatives.
What do you feel you bring to an ethical wedding?
Well, it's not just about buying ethical pressies, it's more than that. By asking your friends and family to choose from an ethica/eco wedding list you are opening up to them the potential of shopping informedly not just for your big day, but seeing what possible alternatives exist.
How do you see the wedding industry changing over the next five years (if at all)?
I see massive changes ahead. With a recession looming long into the next few years, people will be more careful about how they prepare for their wedding.
Weddings will become less about ostentatious show, less traditionally big and white, less cripplingly expensive. Instead, they will become more unorthodox, less expensive and more creative in the planning and doing.
People are already becoming more innovative, and with innovation comes more considered thought processes. That includes the choice of where wedding lists will be placed. We see increasingly people using the internet to source more unusual items, and wedding lists now often include quite a few different stores online and off.
Also, weddings are now returning to become more community based, with more people involved in making the day special - for instance, one friend of mine had her hair and table decorated with wild flowers picked by her bridesmaids on the morning of the event; other friends helped cook various dishes with vegetables given from the village vegetable plots for the mountain picnic. They all traipsed up the hill carrying different things, including musical instruments. It cost little and was hugely romantic, with locals, their family and good friends dancing round a fire late into the night.
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