Sunday, December 14, 2008

Going Green without Spending Green

After seeing this post on Earth Friendly Weddings about a giveaway for a new book called "The Green Bride Guide", I got to thinking about how we are trying to green our wedding. My graduate research focuses on issues of sustainability and human impacts on the environment in the prehistoric past so naturally treading lightly on the earth today is how I like to live. Having a Green Wedding or Eco-Wedding is definitely a big trend in weddings and there are numerous resources and blogs out there for tips and tricks. As I started looking into how to green our wedding I came across all sorts of ideas from hemp paper and soy ink for invitations, biodegradable confetti, and organic champagne.

To be honest, most of the ideas I have seen on how to green your wedding just seem to be encouraging couples to consume more and spend more money. As if the wedding industry doesn't try to suck you dry enough as it is, they have to capitalize on popular social movements. Whatever happened to the good ol' fashioned REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE?

We are going to try to green our wedding by just trying to consume less, forgoing many of the unnecessary (although some would argue essential) things found in many weddings. Today I will focus on ways we are trying to REDUCE and the next few posts will be about how we are REUSING and RECYCLING. I am not claiming that we we have a zero-ecological footprint wedding by any means. The mroe you investigate any choice the more environmental impact do you uncover. But we are trying to do our part by making smarter environmental choices where we can.

1. Less Paper. Why is there always an inner envelope in wedding invitations? This always seemed to be unnecessary, wasteful, and now that I am addressing our own invitations - time consuming. We are forgoing the inner envelope, large pocketfolf invite, place cards, and return RSVP notices to reduce our paper usage. We are asking guests to RSVP via our wedding website rather than send us back an RSVP. Not only is this less money for us but saves an envelope and the ecological cost of delivering mail. Our webiste service Nerlyweds has a built in RSVP feature. I thought about forgoing the invitations altogether and exclusively doing email invites, but I have too much Martha in me.

2. No Wedding Party. This may seem like we are missing out but it also means we are saving $$ as well as resources by not having to dress, primp, and gift a wedding party. We just want to have a good time with all of our friends at our wedding. By treating all of our guests as special, we are not playing special treatment as well as consuming way less.

3. Less Fresh Flowers. The flower industry has numerous environmental as well as social implications. (see this article) The pesticides and herbicides get into water supplies and are also extreamly bad news for the health of the workers. Many of are banned in North America but not in South America and Asia where most flowers are grown. Then there is also the environmental impact of shipping the flowers to the US. We are not cutting flowers out all together but are reducing. We will just have a bouquet for me and a boutonniere for Matt.

Photo from Flowers by Jodi. This is my inspiration bouquet. Mine will be made with different flowers, unfortunately still not local. But I am in continued talks with the florist if there can be more earth friendly options.

Our reception will be decorated with a few tissue paper flower bouquets which goes great with our Mexican theme. Okay so we are using paper which is cutting down the rainforests. Not ever choice is without consequences. The point is that there are small better choices that can be made that still give us the wedding we want while also trying to reduce our environmental impact.

4. Two Receptions. I see what your thinking. Having 2 receptions isn't exactly REDUCING the number of resources we are using. But in a way it is. We have a few friends from out of town flying in to Arizona for our party. (insert cringe here - HUGE carbon footprint). But having a recpetion in my hometown means that by ginormous extended family wiill not be making the flights to Arizona and staying local. Our immediate families and us will be making the treck to all the receptions but all of these trips is still far less than all the traveling that would occur if we were just having one event. If we just had one event in AZ or in NE there would be alot of travel and therefore increases in carbon emissions, jet fuel, etc. Hosting two events locally means travel impacts are cut way down. Although there are increases in other resources. Argh! Tradoffs.

5. Outdoor Ceremony and Recptions. Okay so this may be a silly way of REDUCING our resource use. But being outdoors for our ceremony and both receptions means we will be using less electricity.

So I don't think our wedding is deserving of any 'Outstanding Green Wedding' nominations. But reducing our impact is something we have tried to incorporate both for the environment and our budget.


Mels said...

We've specialized in eco papers for green weddings for 13 years now (I started Fine Paper Co, and later, Invitesite to introduce alternative fiber papers to the marketplace). If couples use 100% post consumer recycled papers and tree free papers, they are actually helping to build supply sources. Paper has only been made out of trees for 125 years -- and you can make paper out of more than 500 different plant fibers. (like sugarcane as well as hemp). So, there are three tracks going forward, using less, building markets for 100% post consumer recycled papers (one company almost went bankrupt last year), and building markets for alternative fiber and post harvest waste papers. Thanks ! Helen,

Anne said...

Green is the new black!

Its exciting to see all your great ideas.

Thanks for your comment on our blog!