Taking the environment into consideration when planning weddings.
by Elizabeth Olson
Green has become the new black. Adhering to an eco-friendly lifestyle recalls the Atkins diet craze of the early 2000s. The difference between the trends, however, is enormous. Rather than forgoing carbs to shed pounds, people all over the world are shunning plastic shopping bags for reusable ones, leaving the car in the driveway and walking or taking public transportation to conserve energy and resources.
Eco-friendly changes are also being made in wedding planning. Indeed, many brides and grooms to be are opting for organic and earth friendly rather opulent and extravagant. There are two million weddings in the United States every year, so trying to reduce the carbon footprint and waste for your own wedding can help lessen the environmental impact of your big day. Here are some tips:
The largest environmental and financial impact of a wedding is its size. The average number of wedding guests in the United States is more than 150, and the average wedding budget is $20,000. Reducing the number of people at the wedding means reducing the amount of fuel burned for traveling, the amount of food consumed, and the amount of waste produced.
Choosing a wedding venue is an important decision. Not only does it contribute to the wedding's atmosphere, it is also a chance to give back to a local community. Many beautiful locations could benefit from a wedding rental fee, such as a nonprofit organization, a local farm or community garden, a museum, an arboretum, a botanical garden, or an art gallery. The wedding not only benefits the host financially, it also exposes their work to a new audience.
In order to reduce the environmental footprint from travel, choose a location that is closest to the majority of guests. The shorter the distance, the less carbon dioxide emitted. In addition, supply guests with information on how to carpool, take a train, bus, or bike to your wedding.
The amount of paper used for wedding invitations can add up to a forest of trees. Not only are there the invitations themselves-which often include several sheets of fancy paper-there are also engagement announcements, save-the-date cards, shower invitations, thank-you cards, ceremony programs, place cards, menu cards, rehearsal dinner invitations. Multiply all those cards and envelopes by the number of guests, and that equals a lot of trees. Some eco-friendly options include sending electronic messages, using recycled paper, and creating a wedding website where guests can check information and updates. Place settings can be written on one large poster or painted on rocks, and menus can be distributed two per table instead of one for every person.
People have become more aware of the consequences involved in producing a gold diamond ring. Some couples are choosing to buy rings that are gold free. To make one gold ring produces 20 tons of mine waste. Additionally, thousands of people have died mining for diamonds around the world. Lab-grown diamonds have recently become a viable alternative. These diamonds are identical to the natural variety, and are less burdensome on the wallet and human life. Other options include buying antique rings, using your birthstone instead of a diamond, and selecting alternative metals.
Flower selection offers a chance to make another earth friendly choice during wedding planning. Many flowers used in weddings are flown in from developing countries where wages are low, working conditions are poor, and pesticide use is high. Some alternative options include growing your own flowers, choosing organic fresh flowers, buying flowers at a local farmer's market, or using dried or silk flowers. Reusing the ceremony bouquets at the reception for centerpieces and dance floor decorations can cut down the amount of flowers used at the wedding. Donating the leftover flowers to hospitals and senior centers after the party is a great way to further extend their life. Using small perennial plants or baby bushes that can later be planted is another earth friendly option.
One of the easiest ways to think of the environment while planning a wedding is to choose eco-friendly wedding favors. Buying gifts from a local artist instead of trinkets shipped from China is a great way to incorporate "green" into your plans. Other gift options include handing out organic chocolate or seeds, bulbs, or small trees that the guests can plant.
Dealing with Leftovers and Waste
There will inevitably be leftovers at the end of a large party, and it can be heart-wrenching to see whole meals thrown in a bin and beautiful flowers swept into a trash bag. In order to prevent the waste of delicious food favors and flowers, hand centerpieces to guests as they leave and find local hospitals, senior centers, and shelters that accept donations.