Wednesday, February 21, 2007

How to Have a Green and Eco-friendly Wedding

Using potted plants is one way brides and grooms can minimize waste
and "go green" on their wedding day

I try to shop for second-hand and recycled goods when possible, whether it's clothes, furniture, books, cars, whatever. I make the effort partly to save money, but also for environmental reasons. Let's face it, Americans are huge consumers. We use 25% of the world's resources and energy, yet we have only 5% of the world's population. It's not sustainable.

In this vein, big and elaborate weddings have always been a puzzlement to me. They seem to me the ultimate in extravagance and waste. All that money spent in one day - when instead the couple could put the money toward a lengthy vacation, or a house down-payment. The average wedding costs $25,000 to $30,000! I could travel for a year on that. Ken and I got married in my parents' living room. I wore a dress that my brother made for the occasion; Ken wore a borrowed jacket. Our two dogs were our attendants. They sat very quietly and attentively while the remarks were made. The whole thing probably cost $200, or less. Even that, to me, seemed extravagant at the time.

So I was pleased when I saw the other day in the NY Times two articles about "green weddings." What a great idea! A Feb 11 article by Mireya Navarro, "How Green Was My Wedding", gives lots of ideas about how to have a greener wedding. One couple in the article plan a "zero waste" wedding for 250 guests. It will include compostable plates and utensils, organic and fair-trade certified food, locally brewed beer and organic wine and wedding rings that are "100% reclaimed recycled ecologically responsible gold." In lieu of gifts, the couple are asking guests to sign up for conservation projects, or to donate to environmental groups.

The second NY Times article, by Matthew L. Wald ("Making High-flying Guests Fuel Efficient") describes how to purchase carbon credits to offset the environmental impact of flying. A $9.95 pass for a 1000 mile trip goes toward developing green sources of energy, such as wind power. This is useful information for green-wedding planners, since travel is the biggest-impact component of a wedding. It's also useful for vacation travelers such as myself. The passes are available from TerraPass, directly or through Expedia, the travel website.

The "How Green Was My Wedding" article refers to several wedding professionals and companies who are offering eco-friendly wedding options, such as which offers organic flowers, and, a magazine devoted to eco-friendly weddings. The editor of Brides magazine says the interest in green weddings has blossomed to include vegan menus, halls that recycle, caterers who use locally grown ingredients, and decorating with potted plants that can be transplanted. The Feb-March issue features a planning guide for a green wedding.

It sounds good! These weddings will still probably cost plenty. But the significance of these trends is that people are trying. Awareness is increasing. The established authorities on the subject are recognizing changing consumer values. That's exciting! After all, the power rests with consumers ultimately. Markets will provide what we demand. A green wedding can be a gateway to an eco-friendly lifestyle and environmentally-conscious parenting. One step at a time...toward a sustainable future.

Keywords: green wedding organic flowers brides magazine how green was my wedding eco-friendly wedding ecofriendly wedding vegan menu consumers portovert organic bouquet minimize waste carbon credits TerraPass impact of travel

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