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by Carol Reed-Jones

     One of the simplest green things you can do for your wedding is to choose recycled, recyclable paper wedding invitations, response cards (if you use them), and thank-you notes.  Professional wedding consultants usually know which companies manufacture invitations with recycled paper content.  Most stationers carry lines of recycled paper- blank cards, note paper, etc., whether or not they are in a
special section of the store.  You may have to read the backs of cards and boxes to determine which have recycled paper content.  The higher the percentage of recycled paper fibers, especially post-consumer, the better.  Paper that is unbleached, or bleached without chlorine is good, also.  Here are some suggestions:

     Choose traditional moisten-and-stick postage stamps, if you can find them, in sheets or cardstock booklets.  The sheets don't have packaging (unless it's a recyclable glassine paper envelope), and the booklets are recyclable.  The self-adhesive stamps come with non-recyclable plastic sheet backing, which makes them less desirable.

     Wedding Invitation Postage:  Know Before You Buy
According to a clerk with the United States Postal Service, it would save many brides and grooms a lot of restamping and extra postage if they would bring in their invitations and response cards to be weighed by a postal employee before they buy stamps for their invitations.   In fact, she suggested it would be smart to buy and bring in one sample invitation before ordering the whole kit and caboodle.  That way you can see if the invitations conform to the dimensions that fit the postal service sorting machines.  One bride came in to the post office with a huge batch of invitations in regular-sized rectangular envelopes she had ordered through a wedding coordinator.  Unfortunately, the invitations were designed to be addressed with the short side going horizontally instead of vertically.  So they were 55 cents apiece instead of 33, (despite the fact that they technically fit the 33 cent dimensions), and the post office only had some really ugly stamps for her to put on. This particular clerk saves the really nice-looking stamps for customers that are buying them for wedding invitations, so ask your postal people if they have nice-looking stamps for your invitations.  For example, the
post office currently has valentine-like stamps (like lace doilies) in 33 and 55 cent denominations.

     Invest in a good quality fountain pen, and as you use up all your old throwaway ballpoint and cartridges, don't get any more disposables! Avoid non-refillable fountain pen cartridges, also.  You can use fountain pens for your guest book, to address or write wedding invitations, to write haiku poems to give guests as wedding favors, and as gifts for attendants.  In a more gracious era, fountain pens were second only to the pocket watch as the preferred men's gift.  Artist and calligrapher Pier Gustafson collects and repairs fountain pens from the 1920s and 30s, when they were made to last.  Pens often had a lifetime guarantee before the days of planned obsolescence.  The green advantages to using a vintage pen are the good quality, and the fact that you are reusing an
item.  Prices begin at around $35; the median price for a modest pen is around $75.  To find out what he has in stock, phone Pier Gustafson at (617) 666-2975, or e-mail him at pengod@aol.com, tell him what you're looking for, and he can describe what he has that fits.  His web site,
http://members.aol.com/pengod/index.htm, has links to other pen sites, some of which sell fountain pens online for prices ranging from affordable to quite pricey.

     Check the most recent National Green Pages for recycled paper and non-wood fiber paper products.  Or you can visit them online at http://www.coopamerica.org/gp . Tree & Floral Beginnings has recycled paper invitations that look like
handmade paper, as well as printed packets of tree or flower seeds for wedding favors (we'll get rid of all those stale candied almonds someday!).  Check out their online site for the paper types, print fonts they use, bridesmaids' gifts, and other great stuff too numerous to mention here.  Tree & Floral Beginnings, 273 Route 34, Locke, NY 13092;
phone toll-free 1-888-315-7333; or (315) 497-1547 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F EST.    http://www.tfbeginnings.com . Green Field Paper Company makes stationary and note cards of tree-free fibers.  Check out their web site at http://www.greenfieldpaper.com/ . You can order a mail order catalog from there, or phone (619) 338-9432. When you look at invitations in catalogs at stationers' and printers', check for a section devoted to recycled paper.  Select invitations made
of real paper; avoid plasticized or overly shiny paper, as these will not recycle.
     If you're adventurous and creative you can make your own handmade recycled paper as an art form for wedding invitations, response cards, or even wedding favors with a hand printed haiku on each piece of paper. The smallest size of postcard or envelope the post office will take is 5" wide by 3 1/2" long. 
     For a small wedding, consider a handwritten personal note (written with a fountain pen, of course!) on beautiful recycled paper or tree-free paper stationary.  According to Emily Post, this is the most flattering sort of invitation to receive, and you'll probably get a better response rate.
     Many printers now use vegetable-based inks, which are more environmentally benign than convention printing inks. Ask around.
     Be creative with available recycled stationary resources.  For our invitations we chose blank cards with an illustration that looked like our outdoor wedding site (there were fewer recycled paper resources in those days).  For response cards, we found solid color pastel note cards and envelopes that matched tones in the invitation.  Maps to wedding and
reception sites were printed on recycled 8 1/2" x 11" paper and enclosed.  No one got lost, but the heavier invitation packet cost us extra in postage.
     An alterative to paper invitations is to telephone or e-mail guests. Warning:  when you need to know who is coming so that you can arrange enough food and seating, sometimes telephone or e-mail invitations aren't taken as seriously as printed ones.  So you could end up with a seating or food shortage, if folks show up at the last minute.  That said, if you want to put your long distance phoning dollars to work for
the environment, use a long distance service such as Earth Tones or Working Assets.  Earth Tones:  1-800-466-1550; Working Assets: 1-800-788-0898.  

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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