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.