Basic How-Tos

Are You Being Good?

Continued (page 2 of 3)

Invitations

For those who think that sending invites made of recycled paper would only be a drop in the bucket in terms of helping the planet, Jennifer Stambolsky of stationery company Earthly Affair counters that swapping 150 conventional invitations for those printed on 100-percent, post-consumer recycled paper saves 22 pounds of wood, 32 gallons of water, and seven pounds of carbon emissions. And less-than-modern style is no longer an issue: "There's this misconception that recycled paper looks kind of gray and informal," says Jennifer, "but that's just not the case anymore."

Food

Back to Earth, an organic catering business near San Francisco, is just one of many progressive caterers across the country that source their menu items almost exclusively from small local farms and purveyors. (And, extra points to Back to Earth for also recycling vegetable oil as fuel for their vehicles.) Even luxury hotels and ritzy event spaces are getting on board, mainly by featuring organic, locally-sourced food in their catering packages.

Flowers

With shipping methods constantly becoming faster and more efficient, you can now get almost any flower, anytime, from anywhere in the world. But to lower carbon emissions, and improve local farming, choose flowers grown near you. For example, the florists at Heavenscent in Saratoga Springs, NY, use local, in-season blooms whenever possible, and source flowers internationally from farms that follow sustainable growing practices and avoid chemicals.

Reception Site

If reducing your impact on the environment is priority one, start with your wedding's location. There are lots of good options—from marrying in a public park, (where your site fee will go to maintaining trails), to choosing a site with LEED gold certification. This certification is not awarded lightly—the designation can only be obtained by meeting a variety of goals, such as composting excess food, eliminating plastic bottles from the site, and even designing the venue's parking lot to be small in order to encourage the use of public transport. Keep in mind that only relatively new buildings can compete for the title. To find an LEED certified venue in your area, click here [PDF]

Another new idea: purchasing carbon offsets through the reception site, an option first offered at the posh event venue One Atlantic, in decidedly un-crunchy Atlantic City. The program allows couples to fund the planting of trees in an effort to counteract the environmental impact of their guests' air and car travel.

Details & Favors

Indie (and increasingly, big-market) designers and manufacturers have been coming up with better and better ideas for those of us who don't want to sacrifice our wedding's style to "do the right thing." On Etsy.com, for instance, Orange & Blossom, sells gift books made of recycled paper, bamboo parasols for the bridal party, and recycled-wood gift tags for favors and thank you gifts; and A Remark You Made offers sweet wooden place-card holders made from fallen trees.

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