Going Green

By Nicole Reino

December 21, 2007 6 min read

GOING GREEN

How to get married without pillaging the planet

By Nicole Reino

Copley News Service

With problems such as global warming being of greater and greater concern, brides and grooms are choosing to celebrate their love and respect for the Earth while celebrating their love and respect for one another. Paul McRandle, editor of National Geographic's The Green Guide, shares some tips on how to have an environmentally conscious wedding:

TELL 'EM WHAT YOU'RE UP TO

If you're having a green wedding, let your guests know upfront. State it in the invitation. An eloquent way of divulging this bit of information, McRandle said, is to say something like: "Celebrate our union and our concern for the earth. ... " As for the invites themselves, choose ones made out of recycled paper or other natural materials (www.invitesite.com and www.twistedlimbpaper.com). Or go with an electronic invitation.

GET OUTDOORSY

Choosing a venue is generally the first decision - and one of the most difficult decisions - a couple makes when planning a wedding. Pick nature. A park, backyard, the beach or a garden are the greenest of wedding venues, according to The Green Guide. Choosing one of these locations will not only benefit the Earth, it'll benefit your sanity. Hotel ballrooms generally have to be booked far in advance and often aren't available on the desired date. The backyard is always available. Don't have a backyard? The Organic Trade Association's Web site can help locate another venue: www.ota.com.

GIFTS AND TRAVEL

Of all the details that go into pulling off a wedding, these are the two things that typically have the most negative impact on the environment, McRandle said. With gifts, it's the packaging, miles shipped and general waste. McRandle isn't suggesting couples forgo registering for gifts; rather, he suggests they register for items such as furniture made from Forest Stewardship Council (www.fscus.org) wood, and organic cotton sheets and table linens. If these gifts must be shipped, there are biodegradable shipping materials such as cornstarch popcorn that can be used. The most eco-friendly gift is a donation, McRandle said. Couples can request that their guests donate to charities in lieu of giving them gifts. To reduce the negative effects of travel, couples should encourage wedding guests to purchase Flight or Road TerraPass cards (www.terrapass.com). When someone buys a TerraPass, that funds renewable energy projects such as wind farms, and ultimately counterbalances emissions.

DINNERWARE AND DECOR

Forget the plastic beverage cups and bottles.

Instead, choose rented or biodegradable tableware and set up recycling and compost stations at the reception site. To create ambience at a ceremony or reception, The Green Guide suggests using renewable soy or beeswax (www.wayoutwax.com) candles with lead-free wicks. Magpie in South Park sells Casoya candles, which are made from soy. They can also be found online at www.casoya.com.

GREEN GRUB

Support the earth and the community by using organic, locally grown food. For a list of local farms and farmers markets, McRandle recommends visiting www.localharvest.org.

HEMP AND FLAX

Wedding attire made out of hemp or flax has lower pesticide levels than other fabrics. Organic cotton is another option. Because they are treated with chemicals, stain-resistant fabrics should be avoided, McRandle said.

A LIGHTING CONCEPT

If a bride and groom have control over the light source, McRandle suggests using compact fluorescent bulbs, which are energy-saving light bulbs. To achieve a warm lighting concept, look fora bulb temperature of about 2,700 kelvins.

KEEP THIS IN MIND

McRandle urges environmentally conscious couples to stick to their ideals when it comes to planning their weddings, but to not make it a stressful ordeal. If Aunt Margaret refuses to look for biodegradable packaging material to ship your gift, don't uninvite her to your wedding. "There are enough things for people to be arguing with their families about," McRandle said. "Stick to your guns where it's most important, but accept the fact that not everybody will go green."

SIDEBAR

An eco-conscious ring

Copley News Service

Diamonds are said to be a girl's best friend, but many of them are foes of the earth. Conflict diamonds, the exploitation of miners, and the inflated cost of diamonds are just a few of the talking points surrounding the diamond industry.

In her book, "Eco-Chic Weddings," Emily Elizabeth Anderson offers some eco-friendly tips for purchasing a ring:

REDUCE

- Request a certificate of origin

- Consider a faux diamond

- Don't buy dirty gold

- Buy American

- Buy local

- Buy one ring

- Support companies doing good

REUSE

- Buy an antique or vintage ring

- Place a "ring wanted" ad on a Web site such as Craigslist.org

RECYCLE

- Use grandma's or mom's ring

- Turn a piece of jewelry you already own into an engagement/wedding ring

- Have an artist create a ring out of used metal and precious stones

Did you know?

Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, are mined in war zones and are used to fund illegal military action. Tiffany & Co. has pledged to sell only certified non-conflict diamonds. For more information, visit www.tiffany.com

Visit Copley News Service at www.copleynews.com.

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