Our Sustainability Promise
In 2020 we decided to launch a series of journals and wedding gifts for beach brides. We considered ourselves environmentally responsible people and tried our best to use sustainable eco-friendly products. Small efforts like bringing recyclable bags to the grocery store, avoiding non-biodegradable packaging, and reusing water bottles & utensils made us feel good. We recommended real flowers to all of our brides. If we saw trash on the beach we’d pick it up. When COVID 19 struck, we realized life was too short to just keep talking about change. We worried the future of our three-year-old daughter was drying up right before our eyes. If our planet was dying, did anything else really matter?
Choosing a Sustainable Cause
We’ve always had ambition but as a tiny fish in the global pond, what difference could we really make? We literally lived in a 900 square foot condo with a pair of cats and a small child running around. Our minimalist lifestyle was ideal in our younger years. We worked on cruise ships, got Australian work visas, and lived each year like it was our last. We found out we were going to be parents the day before a seventeen-hour flight to Africa. With no savings, real estate or retirement plan, we were going to be raising a baby in our early forties.
Our small beach wedding business kept us going. Amazingly, we helped over 2000 couples plan weddings from that tiny condo. We had a good website and most brides seemed pleased with our customer service. We bought a headset for our phone. Many times we would answer calls with a baby in one hand and a pen and paper in the other. We tried our best to maintain the illusion of a proper office while our two cats howled for food in the background.
Our daughter Moorea was named after an island in the South Pacific. During our visit, we fell in love with a sea turtle sanctuary. The turtles were cared for by the Te Mana o te Moana, a foundation for environmental protection of Polynesian marine wildlife. The dedicated staff welcomed us with open arms and we spent hours learning about these amazing creatures. Sea turtles play a vital role in their ecosystems. They are being threatened by climate change, loss of habitat, coastal development, and pollution. They get caught in fisherman’s nets, poached for jewelry, and have their eggs stolen by humans. Tragically, many sea turtles are discovered with plastics, oil, and chemicals in their bellies. The turtle clinic rescues rehabilitate and care for injured turtles. The Moorea Intercontinental Resort works with Te Mana o te Mana to provide a gorgeous retreat for their recovery. Their generosity has provided hundreds of sea turtles and amazing natural habitat to recover from their injuries, lay eggs, and raise their babies. Inspired by our visit, we vowed to return and help with preservation efforts. When our baby girl was born, we named her after our favorite island.
Beach Bride Sea Turtle Rescue
To make a real impact we’d need help. We were in no financial position to adopt a turtle or make a significant donation to the cause. All we really had was a camera, a computer, and a few ideas for a book. COVID 19 crushed our spring and summer wedding seasons. We pooled together the last of our dwindling resources and moved forward with producing a book of Beach Wedding Vows. One book quickly turned into four and before you know it we were working on a product line. We spent every free hour writing, designing, and building our new website. With the schools and playgrounds shut down, we had to balance work with child care and often logged odd hours in the early morning and evenings.
Our favorite picture in our condo is a photo we took at the Te Mana o te Mana sea turtle clinic within Moorea’s Intercontinental resort. We blew it up into a gallery wrap and stare at it often. On a Sunday night after Moorea went to bed, we made the decision we were going to return to that island and help sea turtles. The picture on our wall that gave us hope all these years was going to be the cornerstone of our efforts. We filed for the name “Beach Bride Sea Turtle Rescue” as a DBA for our 501 (c) non-profit ministry (it was available!) We decided to use the image as the book cover for Our Honeymoon. We made the image available for download as a screensaver for phones and computers. We created beautiful ordination certificates for eco-friendly wedding ministers and used the sea turtle sanctuary image as the backdrop. Our final step was to incorporate the image into our new Besty Board bridal party gift sets. Our little brains were brimming with ideas and we wanted to get started as soon as possible. COVID 19 had wiped out most of our seed money, but we used what we had left to create samples. They looked great, but one thing was missing- our Besty Boards weren’t biodegradable, recyclable, or eco-friendly. They were just excess baggage on the Sustainability Express. We were skeptical of foreign factories and hit a renewable dead end with our local printers. Was the Beach Bride Sea Turtle Rescue initiative doomed to fail?
The Eco-Friendly Printer
Around six AM one morning we Googled “Eco-Friendly Printers”. EcoFriendlyPrinter.com was the first organic listing that popped up on our screen. We loved what we saw! We had no idea a business like this existed and our world felt like it was opening up. They specialized in ecological printing solutions. Their paper was 100% recycled and chlorine-free. Their ink was vegetable and soy-based. Their entire business model was based on sustainability and they had developed a network of like-minded individuals and businesses. We e-mailed them that morning. About five minutes later we received a reply and a phone call from Greg. That was pretty amazing service at 8 AM and the conversations continued all the way through the evening. We’d made more progress that day then we had in weeks of researching local vendors. Greg introduced us to Glen and we quickly went from producing Besty Board materials to packaging, shipping, and warehouse distribution. They helped us create a unique sustainable product with biodegradable eco-friendly packaging. We finally found an environmentally responsible business with excellent customer service to partner with!
The Next Generation of Beach Brides
Climate change, pollution, and destruction of habitat are a clear and present threat to our wildlife, oceans, and beaches. Will there be any beautiful public beaches left for wedding ceremonies a decade from now? The future is daunting. We’re a tiny organization, but we’re trying our best to help. In the spring of 2021, we’re using the proceeds from our Besty Boards, Beach Wedding Books, and other products to return to the Te mana o te Moana turtle clinic on Moorea. We’re going to help clean the beaches, rehabilitate turtles and protect their nests. We have an amazing film crew joining us. Unscene Productions of Ocean City will be helping us create a documentary that brings awareness to the sea turtle’s struggle and shows others how they can help save these majestic yet endangered species. We’ll be creating a children’s book that helps the next generation understand the importance of conservation and sustainable practices. We’re also planning on adopting a sea turtle and caring for that turtle and its offspring. We’re hoping beach brides around the world embrace this project and share this with their friends and family. We have no idea how this is going to turn out, but with a little support, we think we can make a difference!