6 steps to planning an earth-friendly wedding
by Jeff Kear, Co-owner of My Wedding Workbook Free Wedding Software
Global warming. Holes in the ozone layer. Extinction of species. Climate shifts. The side effects of our use of fossil fuels and a century of conspicuous consumption are readily apparent, and only by changing our ways can we begin to reverse the process that brought us to where we are today.
Many people are already doing what they can to preserve the environment by recycling, composting, using green or recycled products, buying natural or organic foods (or even growing their own) and cutting energy consumption through a number of means. If you’re a green-leaning bride or groom and want to extend your conservation efforts to your wedding, here are a few things you can do to ensure the only mark your wedding leaves is on the minds of your guests. Call it wedding planning with a decidedly green perspective.
1. Reduce your paper usage
Elaborate printed wedding invitations and save-the-dates are a time-honored tradition in announcing weddings, but they are also resource intensive. Now there are many e-mail programs and services available that allow you to send creative e-invitations from your computer, saving paper as well as the fuel required to deliver all those printed missives.
In addition, there are many paper products used at weddings and receptions (programs, napkins, table coverings, etc.). Find out if there are viable alternatives to these products or if you can use recycled versions.
2. Minimize and streamline guest travel
Take a moment to think of all the guests attending your wedding and the distances they will have to cover in getting there. That’s probably quite a bit of fuel. In fact, airline travel is one of the most fuel-intensive methods of travel period, and if your guests are traveling one or two people to a car, that isn’t exactly efficient, either.
One way you can cut down on the energy consumed through guest travel is to arrange carpools for your guests traveling from the same areas. In addition, you can contract vans or shuttles to haul groups of guests from your hotel, ceremony and reception locations to mitigate having everyone driving separate cars to each destination.
3. Use recycled or re-usable items whenever possible
Instead of buying decorations that will be thrown away after one use, rent your decorations from a local rental vendor so that they can be reused. Or instead of wasting rice or releasing helium balloons when you leave the church, use biodegradable confetti that will quickly turn to compost. Whatever wedding product you need, there’s probably a green alternative now being offered.
4. Take a green approach to wedding gifts
Unfortunately, many of the gifts on the typical wedding registry come enclosed by lots of earth-unfriendly packaging, and sometimes the gifts themselves may not have been made with eco-friendly processes. When filling our your registry, take the extra time to make sure your desired gifts are as kind to the environment as you are. In addition, forgo all the fancy wrapping paper and instruct your guests to either leave your gift unwrapped or to wrap it in newsprint.
5. Select green vendors
Many green vendors often have earth-friendly practices that will make a big difference when it comes to conserving the environment. For example, photographers can shoot with digital equipment instead of using film, and they can also preview your shots electronically instead of printing them all out for your initial review. And caterers can use organic or naturally grown produce and range-fed meats.
6. Offset your carbon footprint with carbon credits
No wedding is going to be completely off the grid, and it’s virtually impossible in your wedding planning to eliminate all consumption. So for the amount of carbon that you will use, you can purchase what are called carbon credits to offset your wedding’s carbon footprint. Carbon credits can be purchased from organizations that invest in carbon reduction products, so every credit you purchase goes to counterbalancing the carbon you have used or will use. TerraPass is such a company and has a calculator for determining the carbon usage of a wedding at http://www.terrapass.com/wedding/.
About the author: Jeff Kear is co-owner of My Wedding Workbook, the next-generation online wedding planning software that’s free, easy-to-use and helps engaged couples manage every wedding detail, from your engagement to your honeymoon and everything in between. Copyright My Wedding Workbook 2009 All rights reserved
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