Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to Purchase Carbon Offsets for a Thoroughly Green Wedding

The ultimate green wedding would have a carbon footprint of zero. While that’s not really possible, it is possible, and pretty easy to purchase enough carbon offsets to equal whatever carbon footprint you create. If you think about it, almost everything we do daily generates a carbon footprint of some size, whether it’s driving a car, eating a hamburger sandwich made with a beef patty, even using a computer because of the carbon generated by the computer’s manufacturing process and because it uses electricity that is most likely generated in either an oil-burning or coal-burning power plant, although that is changing little by little. But you can celebrate your new union and your future by getting carbon offsets for every aspect of your wedding, including for your guests who have to travel from out of state or perhaps even from across the ocean from another country. Air travel is one of the biggest carbon generators there is in modern civilization, but you don’t have to settle for leaving a big carbon footprint for that travel if you negate its impact by buying carbon offsets. You can start the process by typing phrases like “zero carbon weddings” or “purchase carbon offsets” into your favorite web browser and then checking out the websites that come up in your results window.

Once you’re at the carbon offsets website of your choice, you can usually find a carbon footprint calculator of some kind with windows where you can input the total number of guests you’re expecting at your green wedding. Next, you can break down that total into the number of guests who are flying in and their average flight distances. There will also be a window where you can enter the number of guests who are driving in, and their average driving distances. You’ll also need to put in the number of hotel night stays and whether or not guests are staying in an upscale hotel. (Believe it or not, there is a big difference in the carbon footprint generated by guests who are staying in big, expensive hotels as opposed to those who are simply coming in and staying at a more modest motel like a Day’s Inn or something comparable.) You should also be able to input whether or not you’re having a rehearsal dinner, and the calculator will do the rest, coming up with a total for the number of pounds (in thousand pound increments) of CO2 that your guests’ wedding travel and hotel stays will generate. For example, if your green wedding is generating eight tons or less of CO2 then the carbon offsets will cost you a mere $80. So, keep this in mind when you’re planning your wedding. The more guests who attend and the further they travel, the bigger the carbon footprint they’ll create.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Great Green Gifts for Your Bridesmaids

For all you green-minded brides out there, I’ve got a few terrific ideas for green gifts for some of your nearest and dearest: your bridesmaids. After all, if you want to have a really green wedding, you need to make every aspect of your nuptials, from your travel to your rehearsal dinner to your bridesmaidsgifts as green as possible. You can start by not packaging your green gifts for your bridesmaids in something disposable like paper, unless it’s some kind of cool recycled paper or a fabric covering that can be reused for some other purpose, like a head scarf or a placemat. Probably the best kind of gift to give them is a green handbag made either from undyed organic fabric like hemp or cotton, or one fashioned from something like recycled plastic fibers or a repurposed bag that has been turned into a handbag. For instance, I recently saw some very cool, very trendy handbags made from Cambodian rice bags. After these brightly colored, attractively printed bags are emptied of their cargo of rice, they are cleaned and converted into handbags by Cambodian artisans who sew handles on them and turn them into cutting edge, ecologically correct handbags.

Frankly, I think an idea like this is simply too good just to give to the bridesmaids. If I were a bride, I’d score one for myself when I bought a batch for my bridesmaids. A large handbag made of tough recycled plastic is a great bag for taking on the honeymoon because it’s big enough to hold everything that you’d need on a long flight or train trip, including your water bottles, blankets, cosmetics, cell phone, books and magazines, and so on. Even if you don’t go for handbags made from recycled materials, it’s very chic these days to buy handbags made from organic materials. As a further nod to ecological correctness, you should stay away from anything made from leather. This will also please any of your bridesmaids who are Vegans or vegetarians. Leather is passé, and besides, science has shown over and over again that cows are major contributors to global warming because of the methane they emit when they pass gas, and thus, are bad for the environment. So my advice for you brides looking to give green handbags to your bridesmaids is this: stay away from leather or plastics made from petrochemicals, and do buy something manufactured using organically grown fabrics and recycled plastic materials. Doing this won’t solve the world’s environmental problems, but every little bit helps.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Now That You’ve Had Your Green Wedding, What Next?

Okay, so you’ve held your green wedding and you’ve tried to make it as ecologically correct as possible. Then once you’ve returned from your green honeymoon to which you traveled in your hybrid car or aboard eco-friendly trains, now what? What Next?

How can you as newlyweds make your life together a reflection of the green values that your nuptials embodied? Well, a good place to start is with your wedding presents. If you’ve been given small appliances, check the boxes or look them up online before you open them. If they’re not energy efficient, then you should exchange them for similar products that are more energy efficient. Or, if you can’t find anything similar that is more energy efficient, exchange them for something that is more earth-friendly, like a bamboo steamer or a low energy consuming slow cooker. Of course, one way to avoid getting wedding gifts that are inappropriate to your green lifestyle is to put up a wish list on the wedding website that you’re using to disseminate information about the upcoming wedding to all of your friends and family well before the actual event. If you’d rather get a solar oven than a toaster oven, then don’t be shy about telling people. It’s not crass to be specific about what you’d like. Of course, if you’re not that materialistic and don’t want more stuff from your friends and family, then it’s okay to say that too. Why not suggest to your friends and family that they make donations to funds that preserve wetlands or rainforests or your favorite endangered land animal or marine mammals? Getting wedding gifts like that is actually good for the environment and will certainly help to offset the carbon footprint you and your spouse create.

Once you’ve set up housekeeping together, it’s important to forge good habits early on. If you have a home with a yard, be sure you recycle everything you can. Plant a vegetable garden to grow some of your own food. It’s delicious and guarantees that you’ll have a constant supply of fresh herbs, vegetables, tomatoes or whatever is your pleasure. Having a vegetarian diet is green in more ways than one. Cutting down on the amount of beef you buy and consume is not only good for your health, it’s good for the planet too. And don’t forget to compost your organic waste. Certain plants just love coffee grounds, and they help to hold the moisture in around the roots. Be sure to check your home’s insulation and windows. Fix or replace leaky windows. Insulate your attic if you have one, and install solar tubes in your roof for nice, carbon-free lighting during daylight hours. And be sure to install a rain butt or two in the ground so you can harvest as much rainwater as possible. It’s not easy being green, but it certainly is satisfying.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sending Green Thank You Cards Is Only The Beginning for your Green Wedding

As long as you’re committed to having a green wedding, I think it only makes sense to carry that idea to its logical conclusion. How? Well, one way is by making every aspect of your wedding green, right down to the thank you cards you send out to express your gratitude for all of the lovely wedding gifts that they gave you for your wedding.

I think it’s a great idea to use recycled paper not just for your wedding thank you cards, but also for all of your stationary envelopes, notepads, printer paper, paper towels or any paper goods that you use in your home once you set up housekeeping. There’s almost no end to the ways you can add green to your married life. All it takes is a little research and imagination. Did you know that you can even get pens that are made from recycled plastic components with barrels that are manufactured from recycled materials such as paper, wood scraps, plastic, denim, and even bamboo? It’s true. I first encountered recycled pens like the ones I just described at a hotel I stayed at in Europe almost ten years ago. It’s a shame that it’s taken America this long to get on the eco-friendly bandwagon. On the other hand, it’s never too late to make up for lost time. Now that Americans are getting wise to the value of green living, it’ easier than ever to find green paper products like thank you notes made from recycled paper. Fortunately, the Internet allows you to do comparison shopping with firms all over the world to find the best bargains for the recycled paper products with which to stock your home.

So, after you’ve had your green wedding, followed by your green reception and a green honeymoon, you can settle in to enjoy your married life in your eco-friendly home filled with recycled products made from everything from paper, plastic, denim, wood, glass, steel, bamboo, and anything else that can be recycled.

If you watch any of the shows on the Green Planet cable TV network, you know that there’s almost no limit to what can be recycled these days, and is being made into countertops, furniture, rugs, curtains, windows, and paneling. That’s why I say that sending green thank you notes is only the beginning; that is if you’re really committed to a green lifestyle for the rest of your life.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Earth Friendly Books Make a Great Wedding Gift Idea

It can challenging to come up with appropriate gift ideas when you’re trying to think of just the perfect gift for your favorite “earth friendly” couple. Most people would probably get a young couple just starting out practical gifts like small kitchen appliances or crystal stemware or something similar. But let’s try thinking outside of the box here. Instead of a blender or wineglasses or something equally mundane and predictable, why not give the happy couple some Earth Day books? Now before you dismiss the idea out of hand as too boring, consider this: a nice sampling of Earth Day books can help an environmentally conscious couple better realize their dream of a greener lifestyle. A well-chosen set of Earth Day books can provide information on how to make anyone’s lifestyle greener in all areas from one’s diet to the wardrobe you wear to the furniture in your home.

Plus, books can give a young couple ideas for dozens of ideas for ways to construct a green home from the ground up, or to modify an existing home to increase its earth friendliness. I don’t know about you, but personally I think that knowledge is one of the most precious gifts anyone can give to another person.

Right now there is so much interest in going green that you can find Earth Day books on virtually any topic from raising your child in a green environment, to making the interior of your home greener, to making your business greener. For someone who’s genuinely interested in living a green lifestyle that usually goes hand-in-hand with wanting to preserve the world’s environment, even if it’s just planting one tree at a time. If your green-minded friends are politically active, you can even find books about how to organize in your city, state, or neighborhood. Really, at this point in time, there’s virtually no limit to the range of Earth Day books that are available both online and in the chain and independent bookstores that exist in the brick and mortar world. However, if you want to be sure that the books you give will be appropriate and will be properly appreciated by the happy couple, and then it’s up to you to do your research to ensure that what you’re giving them fits their needs and desires.

Giving Earth Day books is not something that I would recommend as a wedding gift to people who are only casual acquaintances, as they might not be appreciated as the wonderful, thoughtful gifts that they truly are.

Friday, December 12, 2008

When It Comes to Eco Friendly Wedding Presents, There Is a Whole Galaxy of Wedding Gifts to Give

So your best friend is getting married and you have to buy him or her a wedding gift. Because this couple is so special to you, you really want your gift to be special, too, but you don’t know exactly what to get them that will be special enough. Adding to your complications are the happy couple’s strong beliefs in going green in all areas of their lives. Obviously, just getting them a toaster oven isn’t going to cut it, unless it’s some kind of new, high-tech ultra-energy efficient appliance that will probably be hideously expensive because it’s a new product. Well, don’t panic. There really are a lot of eco friendly gifts that you can give that should make your friends happy and won’t cause your pocketbook to have a financial meltdown.

Now some of these wedding gifts aren’t really fancy and they aren’t sexy, but they are practical, very eco friendly gifts that any green minded young couple would probably be overjoyed to get. For instance, if they’re just setting up housekeeping and they want to make their new home as green as possible, why not give them a rain butt for collecting rainwater? This will help them save water, it’s energy efficient, and it could help them have a nice vegetable or flower garden in their backyard, which can either be beautiful or delicious depending upon what they grow. As I said, it’s not a terribly sexy wedding gift, but it’s one of those gifts that will keep on giving for years to come.

And if this green minded couple likes gardening, why not get them an organic gardening kit, including all the hand tools, gardening gloves, seeds and instructions they’ll need to grow their own organic vegetables? If they’re really trying to go green by growing their own food, and trying to eliminate more of their garbage that would normally go into the waste stream, then a composter is a great wedding gift that will do double duty. Not only will it take all of the organic waste out of their garbage, it will help recycle it to make compost that they can use to fertilize their own vegetables or ornamental plants. Again, this is not a very fancy or sexy wedding gift, but one that will surely be appreciated by the couple who receives it. Remember, when you’re buying eco friendly wedding gifts, you’re buying them to satisfy your friends’ needs and desires, not to buy something that makes you feel good.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some Easy Options for Staging the Ultimate Earth Friendly Wedding

If you’re thinking of staging an earth friendly wedding you’ve probably already figured out that you need to ban disposable products from your wedding plans, so that means no plastic silverware, cups, disposable napkins, etc. So where does that leave you if you still want to plan a beautiful, comfortable and elegant wedding. Well, for starters, you need to think about renting or borrowing whatever you need to stage your wedding. Employing reusable materials like metal silverware, ceramic plates, cloth napkins and tablecloths, folding banquet tables, metal or wood candelabras, glass vases for flowers and so on. Renting everything may not be the cheapest way to stage your earth friendly wedding and its accompanying reception, but it’s certainly one of the most intelligent ways to solve a variety of problems. Remember, rental companies are in the business of supplying plates, silverware, glasses, napkins and so for a variety of different types of events, so you should have no problem finding place settings, linens and everything else you need to fit the theme you’re establishing for your wedding, no matter how simple or elaborate you want it to be. Of course, for an earth friendly wedding I recommend simplicity in all things. Big, elaborate, ornate weddings are wasteful and selfish and need to be relegated to the past, just like leisure suits, disco music, and non-recyclable materials.

So, rent or borrow whatever you can. Employ reusable materials like metal silverware and crystal glasses that can be used for your wedding and then cleaned and reused again and again. Plan what you will do with any leftover food. I think it’s a great idea to have it packaged up and distributed to the homeless in your area, or send it to a food pantry or soup kitchen near where you live so it won’t have to travel very far.

Another aspect of your earth friendly wedding is to buy local. This is not only socially responsible it’s good for the economy in whatever area where you live. It’s also the most earth friendly way to get the food, flowers, wine, and other consumables you’ll need for your wedding. The farther anything has to travel by air, rail, truck or car, the larger its carbon footprint. And since the whole goal of staging an earth friendly wedding is to create as small a carbon footprint as possible, then it only makes sense to buy local produce, local flowers, and even locally-produced wedding candles. Getting your candles made by a vendor who’s local makes sense in other ways, too, since you’re more likely to get candles that are designed and manufactured to match a particular theme or color scheme that you’ve planned for your wedding.