Eco-Friendly Registries

Let your green ideals direct your wedding wish list

For most couples, a wedding registry is a giddy opportunity to acquire both necessary and fantasy home accessories to help build a new life together. But for a growing number of brides and grooms, the desire to receive gifts is balanced by the need to act responsibly toward the environment—which means limiting unnecessary consumption and choosing items that are earth-friendly. For them, green registries, an emerging niche in the gift-giving business, are an ideal compromise.

Knowing that guests will be generous when it comes to wedding presents—bridal registries represent $8.9 billion in retail each year, according to Condé Nast Bridal Media's American Wedding Study—most eco-minded couples derive a deep satisfaction from finding green ways to channel that kindness. “It feels nice to give people the option to choose things that are good for the environment,” says Kate Hurowitz, who married Rich Jacobs in Bridgehampton, NY, in October 2007.

Kate and Rich, who moved from New York to the West Coast last year, discovered a green option in branchhome.com, a Bay Area-based Web site with a focus on playful, eco-conscious design. They quickly found much to love, from colorful Bambu wooden bowls, which they now use daily, to sculptural Esque glass pitchers. On Amazon.com, which partners with a wide variety of merchants, including über-green retailer Gaiam, they earmarked items including a ceramic tabletop composter (in San Francisco, a building's composting bin often sits next to the one for recycling). To appease traditional-minded guests, they also chose gifts from Crate & Barrel. Still, Kate insists there's an eco-conscious way to register even for old-school items: by choosing products that are basic, classic and sturdy. “It's an opportunity to get the gifts that you can hold onto for a long time,” says Kate, the proud owner of a new bright blue KitchenAid mixer.

For Jill Fehrenbacher and Peter Rojas, who were married in San Francisco in July of last year, it was even more imperative that they take an eco-conscious route. “I'm a spokesperson for green living, so there's no question that I'd do a green wedding from top to bottom,” says Jill, who publishes the earth-friendly design blog Inhabitat.com. Jill and Peter's ceremony featured a recycled wedding dress (the groom's great-grandmother's lace gown from her wedding, in 1910) and a vegan cake. “I feel very strongly about not wasting resources,” she adds. Although Peter was committed to the idea of asking for donations to favorite charities including Rainforest Action Network—philanthropy is a common request for many eco-conscious couples—they quickly realized they would get a lot of unwanted items if they didn't ask for specific home goods. So, like Kate and Rich, they created registries at Branch and Amazon and gave guests plenty of options: from Amenity organic bedding and hemp napkins at the former, to an LED lamp and Calphalon pots (to replace the couple's less eco-friendly Teflon pans) at the latter. Since their registries were modest in size, they got exactly what they needed. “We're pretty much using everything,” says Jill.

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