Greening Weddings and Wedding Presents
Like most people, I have lots of friends getting married this summer and it is increasingly difficult to identify gifts for them. Since most couples live together first before the wedding, they seem to already have about 2 of everything. Considering the average cost of a US wedding running at around $20,000 (12000 Euro in France, 16000 GBP) and 14.5 tonnes of CO2 are created by the average wedding in the UK, it seems obvious that weddings have a huge ecological and economic footprint. Here are some ideas on how to green your wedding and for wedding gifts that are both green and will save the happy couple money for many years to come. Below is excerpted and adapted from a much longer useful article at treehugger.com (http://www.treehugger.com/htgg/how-to-go-green-weddings.html)
- "Source Locally. Almost anything can be found locally, but some things are more important than others. Food and drinks are a great place to start. If there's a good micro-brewery down the road or organic farm for vegetables?
- Source Green. Everything you buy or rent for your wedding will have an environmental and social impact. Can you encourage caterers to use organic produce? What is your dress made of? How was the gold in the rings mined? Eighty percent of the 2500 tons gold mined each year goes into jewelry. Whereas already-mined gold could satisfy demand for 50 years; much of it currently sits in bank vaults and in old, unused jewelry. My friends Akos and Nori are melting down some unused family jewelry to make their rings in September. Did those tasty little gift bags of chocolate involve slave labor or are they Fair Trade? Even if you can't establish the green credentials of every single supplier, at least by asking questions about such issues you are already making a difference. Remember though, what is green may not always be obvious--while a hemp suit may be a good eco-statement, if it is going to sit in the closet for most of your married life, you could be much better off with a traditional rental service. Similarly, party rentals for things like linens and glasses are a classic example of a product service system--something we are very keen on here at TreeHugger. They provide the perfect means for getting the most use out of minimal resources.
- Pick Your Venue. If you are not tied to a particular church, synagogue, mosque, consider supporting your local community garden, farmer, or other worthwhile project by having your wedding there? Not only will your wedding serve as a useful source of revenue for the chosen local hosts, it can also raise awareness of their work and send a strongly personal message about the issues that you and your partner care about.
- Green Your Transportation. Try to provide as much information on transport options as possible. Let them know that you'd really appreciate it if they arrived by train, bus, bike, or at least by carpool. If you are a little ways out of town, why not provide shuttle buses--that way you don't have to worry about drunk driving either.
- Make it Personal. Why not ask friends to grow and bring flowers from their own gardens? You'll end up with the most fabulous flower (un)arrangements ever seen, and your guests will appreciate being involved.
- The Perfect Eco-Invites. Fortunately, there is an increasing number of suppliers of recycled, handmade, or tree-free invitations out there. If you are happy breaking from tradition, then electronic invites like Evites are worth considering, too.
- Gifts of Conscience. There are many retailers of green gifts to mention these days, and many offer registry services. Why not ask for that solar-powered laptop or phone charger you've always wanted? Popular eco-choices for gift registries include Viva Terra, Branch, and Gaiam. Many local craft stores may also do registries, and even mainstream retailers now have many eco-options, such as organic linens, etc. If you have all you need, why not create an online donation registry to a worthy cause instead?
- Offsetting the Rest. To be truly green, make every effort to cut emissions, waste, and other negative impacts of your wedding at the source. However, the thing is still likely to create a significant impact. Offsetting can be a means of taking responsibility for that impact and channeling funds into some positive projects--as long as you pick your offset provider carefully. Popular choices include Terrapass, Native Energy, and MyClimate in the US, and Climate Care in Europe. Native Energy even has an online wedding offset calculator. If you can't afford offsets for the whole wedding, then why not offset a portion and ask guests to contribute to the rest? You can at least include information on offset providers on the invites so guests can choose whether to offset their travel. Be aware though, that some see offsetting as fundamentally flawed, no matter which provider you choose--so make sure it fits with your version of what's green.
- Communicate. Whatever you do to green your wedding, make sure you tell people about it. Screening An Inconvenient Truth during the ceremony is probably over the top, but you can still take advantage of having your friends and family gathered in one place to do a little friendly education. Tell them about yourselves and about what is important to you. If you can create a wonderful, magical celebration that treads a little lighter on the planet, then people will remember it. Too many folks still believe environmentalism is all doom and gloom--this is the perfect opportunity to prove them wrong!"
Some Eco-Gift Ideas:
- Jug-style water filter (6000-7000 HUF)
- Heat reflective material for behind radiators (300 HUF/M2 at Obi, Praktiker, Baumax...)
- Water tap aerators save 50% on water use (800 HUF at Obi, Praktiker, Baumax..).
- Reusable soda water bottle (6000-7000 HUF new, 2000-3000 HUF used) http://liss-shop.hu/
- Energy-efficient CFC or LED light bulbs (700-3000 HUF)
- Extension cords with master/slave switches (800-1500 HUF)
- Organic Fair Trade coffee, tea or chocolate! (800-3000 HUF) www.treehuggerdans.com
- Give an organic vegetable box from an organic farm like the Open Garden Foundation or Satyor (3000-4000 HUF)
- Make a book of tickets for then with "services" you can render: massage, a movie, dinner at restaurant of their choice, walk in the woods, baby sitting...
- Reusable textile bags or woven shopping baskets (1000-2000 HUF)
- A juicer (avoid throw away packaging) and make juices from their own garden
- Plant clippings from your own house plants
- A tree to plant
- Buy gifts without batteries (like a self-winding watch) or with rechargeable batteries
- Rechargeable batteries with charger (1500-3500 HUF)
- For bigger purchases, make sure the goods are rates A+ in both water and energy conservation; or a vacuum with a reusable bag
- Insulate their windows for them and help them save 15-20% on their heating bills through Okoszolgalat (Ecoservice). You can cheaply rent a machine from this NGO that cuts grooves in your wooden windows for the insulation strips. The machine (marogep) rental costs 6000 huf for 3.5 days, 10000 huf deposit. Insulation costs 180 huf/meter. 1051 Budapest, Nádor u. 34. Fsz. 2, Tel: 06 1 311 7855, 06 20 519 80 81, firstname.lastname@example.org Open M-Th 8-17, F 8-15. Available from several NGOs in other Hungarian cities - see list on website.
- Get something repaired for them, like a leaking tap, trousers, DVD player...
- Greff Elektronika (V. ker, Bank u. 1, M-F 8-17, tel: 332-8083) for electronic goods.
- Shoe repair with the old lady in the courtyard of Izabella u. 73 or 75, "Cipesz" (ground floor across the courtyard).
- At 1067 Csengery u. 36, there is Magda Szabo, a nice, quick tailor/seamstress who is often open late for emergency repairs. Tel: 1-342-6594
- There is also good zipper repair near Ferenciek tere in the courtyard by the church (czipzar).
- A hiking map or bicycle map for the Buda Hills, Pilis, Aggtelek, Balaton...(800-2500 HUF)
- A bike
- Monthly or annual public transport ticket (9000-90000HUF)
- Donate in their names to a local or international NGO on an issue they care about (seals, whales, animal shelter, climate change, children's welfare, women's rights...)
- Paid cycling apps for smart phones or tablets like Strava or hiking trackers, battery saver apps, Good Guide
More ideas here: