Over the years Indian weddings, has undergone a 360 degree shift from an auspicious traditional close family event to an ostentatious advertise of one’s purchasing power. What worries me more is the amount of carbon footprint that gets generated as a consequence of this pompous mayhem. Well, here I am making no attempt to condescend the idea of celebration but definitely the way it’s done. Today weddings have come down to become a financially exhausting, resource gulping and a garbage producing event. The current trend of exhibiting opulence raises are significant question, ‘Do we really need these big fat weddings?’ I am not an opponent of consumerism but a proponent of sustainable consumption pattern. I genuinely feel we need to cultivate a harmonious balance between human actions, optimum resource usage and minimum environmental impact.
Soumya Reddy’s wedding has set a classical example of a sustainable wedding. Being the daughter Karnataka’s transport minister Ramalinga Reddy she had all the excuse and resources to go for a grandiose nuptials. But the 32 year old US trained environmental engineer and activist chose a simple and eco-friendly path. The things that made her wedding reception outstanding were:
- One-page wedding invite made of recycled paper with ‘no gifts-no bouquets’ appeal.
- 5,000 potted plants, re-usable natural fabric, paper flowers used as decorations.
- Melamine plates and steel glasses used instead of plastic/ disposable dishes.
- Mango, neem and sandal saplings given as return gift, as a part of ‘tamboola’, a gift giving ritual.
- ‘Green brigade’ a Bangalore based recycling firm hired to wisely dispatch the waste.
Such weddings have a transforming potential and particularly this one was phenomenal as at the end of the day only two tons of wet waste got produced from a gathering of approximately 18,000 guests. (Saumya Reddy’s Wedding facts: courtesy Saritha Rai’s Article ‘How Green is My Wedding’.)
If it’s convincing enough and now you too are thinking of opting for a sustainable wedding, allow me to help you with some ideas.
- Guest List – Reduce the size of your guest list to family and close friends. Not only will you have a warm private gathering but it will help you in cutting down the carbon footprint.
- Invite – You can use the invites made out of recycled paper and can hire a local calligrapher to write them for you. It helps in two ways: one, it provides employment to an artist and second, it helps in saving the energy used in printing process. In case you are not won over by the idea of paper invite, then you can send e-invites to your loved ones over an email (accompanied by a video) or direct them to your customised wedding website, linking with an interactive map to locate the venue, local hotels, local site seeing spots and popular shopping destinations.
- Gifts – Either you can make ‘no gifts\ bouquets’ appeal to your guest or you can suggest them to make a donation (with the amount of gift) for any noble cause. The living example of this noble practice is a Canadian couple who cancelled their wedding to donate money to help Syrian refugees. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/canadian-couple-are-donating-their-wedding-funds-to-help-syrian-refugees-a6741646.html)
- Venue – Please don’t go for a place, which is situated on the outskirts of the city, rather go for a location which would be closer to most of your guests. You can also consider the option of an open area venue like botanical garden or farm house over fancy hotel or resort since, hotels tend use a lot of electricity and water. In case you are going for a small wedding then considering your own home as a venue wouldn’t be a bad idea.
- Clothes – There is a high possibility that you are going to wear your wedding dress only once, so why not rent it. If renting is not an option, then you can tie-up with an NGO who can make one for you from an eco-friendly fabric. Or probably you can get your mother’s wedding dress recycled and don with love and grace.
- Jewellery – There is no need to buy a new one, as you can either go for your mother’s jewellery or can get the old jewellery remodelled. You can also opt for eco-friendly jewellery, which is made of recycled gold and sustainable diamonds. It will save up a lot of your money.
- Decorations – Keep the decorations to minimal and use only fresh and locally produced flowers over artificial flowers. Probably you can opt for a well maintained garden for the venue, so that you don’t you can save up on decorations.
- Eco-procurement – Give preference to goods and services which are not only eco-friendly but also produced locally, as these would have less transportation cost, hence low carbon emission and high local economic development.
- Food – Go for organic food and healthy recipes. Prefer a low meat or completely vegetarian menu as non- vegetarian menu has a higher environmental cost. Don’t over cater. You also ask your caterer to refrigerate the leftover in a hygienic manner and donate the it to some NGO.
- Cutlery – Opt for washable dishes over the disposable ones.
- Energy supplies – Choose a day wedding, as will help in saving a lot of electricity. Or else you can go for solar lights, solar lamps or earthen lamps and lanterns. Earthen lamps will also add an aesthetic value to the ambience.
- Takeaway gifts – You can bid adieu to yours guest with some wonderful eco-friendly takeaways. You can contact certain local stores or NGOs who deal in handmade, environmental friendly products like ecotokri (https://ecotokri.com), Swechha Store (http://www.swechhastore.com/), Happy hands Foundation, Diya Foundation, etc. for same.
- Waste Management – For the proper disposal of waste you can have various bins labelled as dry waste, wet waste, only paper and only plastics. You can deploy a waste management company to segregate the waste and then dispatch it to nearest biogas processing unit.
If you run an event/wedding planning company or are planning to start one then you can go for a Green Wedding Planning course at ‘Wedding Planning Institute’ (http://www.weddingplanninginstitute.com/course-catalog/green-wedding-planning/). Your vision and creative strategy will help in reducing the size of landfills in the coming future.
Now is the time to take the required actions to make the wedding a culturally, financially and environmentally more meaningful occasion.
Have a gracious green wedding!