Over the last couple of days I have been giving my carbon footprint a bit of thought and although I make an effort here & there, I don’t think that I do enough. I am not ignorant to the issues but I have been a little less vigilant than I could be when it comes to making environmentally friendly choices. Why? Well I can only put it down to pure laziness and perhaps being a little overwhelmed by all the, often contradictory, information out there. Now the guilt has caught up to me and something must be done. Don’t get me wrong, I do think about whether the products I am buying/using are friendly or not but it is usually an after-thought or it is a perk, not a primary motivation. Therefore, I am officially planning to make some changes. They probably won’t be huge changes at first, but I am hoping to slowly train my brain to, where possible & affordable, think environment first.
So, in the spirit of green awareness I thought I would post some ideas on how to green-up your event. I have found that South Africa tends to be a little behind in the green product department but there seem to more and more options available lately. *NB* Don’t let the thought of going green overwhelm or stress you out. You also don’t need to adopt green into every area of your event, incorporating it, where possible, will still make a difference. So, here goes…
Jewellery – When buying your engagement ring or wedding bands, consider recycling your jewellery. Maybe you have a gold earring without a partner or a necklace that you no longer wear. Speak to your family as well. Some jewellers will happily accept your “old” gold, melt it down and make you a new piece. It will work out more cost-effective for you as well. One such jeweller is Tommy D Fine Jewellery. This was Tommy’s suggestion to my husband and I when we had my engagement ring made. What makes this extra special for me, is knowing that I have my great-grandmother’s wedding band and my grandmother’s engagement setting in my engagement ring.
Planning – When planning, try not to print out all of your quotes etc. Now I know that planning rule number one is to keep all of your documents and contracts together in a file but consider making a file on your computer instead but don’t forget to back-up.
Invitations – Use recycled paper for your invitations. There is a far wider selection of recycled papers these days. Just remember, if you are not buying your paper from the printing company, make sure that you show them a sample of your paper first, just in case there is a problem doing your chosen print style on said paper. Now, this next bit is not for the faint-hearted. Only consider this if you are not concerned about judgement or ridicule! Although considered quite the faux pas, you could opt to not have invitations printed and send your invitations via email or on your wedding website instead. You can get really creative here. Just remember, not everyone will have access to email or the internet all of the time so you may encounter some issues. Consider the people on your guest list very carefully before going this route. At the very least you could do the same with your Thank You notes.
Make-up – Look for products that are all-natural and are not tested on animals. If you haven’t already, research your favourite cosmetics brand to see where they stand on the issues. I was shopping at M.A.C Cosmetics this past weekend and was informed of their Back to M.A.C Program. Return six of your empty packaging containers and receive a free lipstick of your choice as their thanks to you.
Ceremony & Reception – By having your ceremony & reception at the same venue, you and all of your guests won’t need to travel as much and you will greatly reduce the carbon footprint of your event. Alternatively, encourage your guests who live in the same areas to catch a cab together, there will be environmental benefits and they will all be able to enjoy the cocktail hour and free drinks without having to worry about spending the balance of the weekend in jail. If not a cab then perhaps a carpool?
Flowers – Choose seasonal flowers for your wedding, this will not only be cheaper but will have less of an impact on the environment. If you are getting married in a church, perhaps ask your priest/pastor/minister if there is a wedding directly after yours and see if the couple would want to use your flower for their service. You could also donate your reception flowers to the church for their Sunday service or even donate to an old-age home to brighten up their days.
Photography – Some photographers are getting onto the green bus too. Check with your photographer to see what they do to reduce their footprint. Some photographers ensure that they use only rechargeable batteries and energy-saving light bulbs for their equipment. You could also consider not having a full album done. Let’s face it, in this digital age, you are most likely to show most people your pictures via Facebook or a digital presentation anyway. So why not save on an album and only have your favourite pictures printed for framing etc.
Attire – If you mother has always dreamed of the day that her daughter would walk down the aisle wearing her wedding dress but you wouldn’t be caught dead in said dress, then after discussing this compromise with your mother, ask your designer how they can work the fabric from your mother’s dress into your design. If this is not the case, then many designers are opting to use eco-friendly materials for their clothing. Speak to your designer or your fabric store about your eco-friendly options.
Centrepieces – Rent, don’t buy! For your flowers, see above but for the rest you would be better off renting whatever you can.
Food – Check if your caterer offers organic options.
Honeymoon – Offset the carbon footprint from your flights by buying some trees. Tree-Nation is an organisation whose main aim is to counteract deforestation. They are running their first project in Niger, Africa. Their goal is to plant 8 000 000 trees in the shape of a heart by 2015. An environmentally conscious friend of mine recently purchased his wife a group of trees within this heart-shaped forest to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary, which is traditionally wood. Very clever!
These are just a few ways I thought of to make your event greener but there are many green wedding websites out there with some great ideas.