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Planning a Green Wedding

by Carol Reed-Jones

Perhaps you have been living a green lifestyle for some time, recycling everything you can, reducing your purchases of one-time and throw-away items, eating vegetarian...or maybe you haven't.  Planning a green wedding is a wonderful way to begin-or continue-a green lifestyle. There are some very simple principles for planning a greener wedding, or for living daily life:

  • Avoid disposable and one-time-use items.  For weddings, these include paper plates and plastic cutlery;  disposable cameras; women's stockings with wedding bell appliqués; plastic and tulle bride-and-groom or wedding bell cake top ornaments; fans and gloves for women attendants; cheap, tacky wedding favors that guests will only throw away; table
    decorations that are so specific to your wedding that they cannot be reused or given as gifts.  You can probably think of many others.

  • Check to see if you can use borrowed, rented or secondhand items before you purchase new ones. 

  • If new items are purchased, make sure they are of good quality so that they will have a long and useful "life."

  • Ask yourself:  Do I/we really need this item?  Will its absence
    detract from the meaning of the ceremony, of the day?  What meaning does it have for me/us? 

  • Select wedding clothes for yourself and attendants that can be worn again, if you don't borrow or rent it.

  • Recycle or use products made out of recycled materials.  Use as few virgin resources as possible, especially nonrenewable ones.

  • Choose products that are available in bulk, or with minimal

  • Avoid all aerosol products, whether for household or personal use.

  • Use organically grown food.   Not only a health concern, the
    consumption of organically-grown foodstuffs puts fewer toxic pesticides and fertilizers into the environment and food chain, and promotes sustainable agriculture.

  • Consider a vegetarian menu at your reception.  Plant proteins
    (legumes, vegetables, grains, fruits) use fewer valuable resources-less land and water-per pound than livestock.

  • Use organically grown, local flowers in season-or grow your own. Locally grown flowers don't need much transportation to get to you.  Out of season flowers will have to be transported long distances, contributing to pollution (and costing a small fortune).  Leave wildflowers in the wild where they belong, so they can reseed for the future.

  • Reduce electricity use-consider the use of candles instead of
    electric light, and live "unplugged" music at your reception or

  • Cut down on excess transportation and reduce air pollution at the same time.  Arrange your reception at the same location as the wedding, or within easy walking distance.  Consider a nearby honeymoon.

  • Choose products from companies and countries that do not use child labor.

  • Use products of companies that donate a portion of their profits to environmental causes.

    Simplify whatever you can, wherever you can, without compromising the meaning that this day will have for you.  Fewer small details to attend to will translate into more fun, more time for your guests, less stress and less over-consumption.

    This column is an excerpt from the first chapter of Green Weddings That Don't Cost the Earth, by Carol Reed-Jones.


© 1999 Carol Reed-Jones

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