Earth Day – No sacrifice is too small!

As we celebrate Earth Day 2011, we are reminded via news and television that there is a lot that needs to be done to reduce our carbon footprint, and that every small step you take is a step in the right direction.

Change is hard. You are used to doing everything in a very specific manner and when you go about change, it is a struggle at first. Those darned compact fluorescent light bulbs were so expensive at first it was hard to justify buying them but, slowly the prices cam down as  the impact of each bulb was slowly steeped into our psyche. Why do they even sell regular light bulbs anymore?

Planning your wedding, preparing for the largest social event of your life , one that will change the way you think, sign your name, make the bed and just about ever other seemingly mundane task is the  perfect time to begin thinking about how your actions impact the planet.

Here are the 5 best things you can to do reduce, reuse or recycle on your wedding day:

1) Talk to your jeweler and insist on conflict-free diamonds. The Kimberly process was enacted to prevent the illegal trade of  “blood diamonds” whereby mine workers are tortured, mutilated or killed. That’s not even the worst part, the worst part is almost 100% of the money goes back to those who perpetrate this violence. Conflict free diamonds come with a certificate of authenticity and are readily available at retailers everywhere.  Insist on  them!
2) Digital Photography allows  you to be able to view all of the proofs and print only the ones you wish to keep. Before you say anything, remember that digital cameras (especially the ones used by professionals) will produce the same kind of image as standard 35mm photography. If your photographer uses both,ask if you can get digital proofs.  Avoid single -use cameras at all costs.

3) Limousines can reduce gas emissions greatly when you consider the alternative of 7 bridesmaids and 7 groomsmen driving individually to an event. Boom! You’ve just saved several gallons of gas! If you can find a limousine company that has alternative fuel vehicles or even hybrids, BONUS!

4) Buy locally grown food and flowers. It saves money, transportation and labor costs. You have reduced the handling time and you will have fresher, healthier, more desirable vegetation and probably save a few dollars in the process. It’s a win/win.

5) Consider giving your guests favors that will make a difference. Mini-trees, flower bulbs, plant able papers all can be wrapped in organic or biodegradable paper with raffia. It will be organic and visually appealing!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal expo Chicago

Green Weddings Part Two – Invitations

One thing is certain when you are planning your wedding; the invitation should give the guests all of the information they need to know about what kind of event it will be. Aside from the printed words describing the date, time and dress code, the  style of invitation and the actual paper itself are big clues as to what one can expect on your big day. You should choose your invitations accordingly and don’t forget to order the matching Thank You cards!

When you add the layer of eco-consciousness to your affair, it might seem that you will have fewer choices. In this case, it is the contrary. Make no mistake, though, when your guests get your invitation they will understand that you are making an effort to reduce waste . Take this into consideration: Half the trees felled in the US every year are used for paper, and an estimated 30-40 percent of our landfills are filled with paper waste. And in case you didn’t know, the manufacture of paper is a nasty, toxic process that leaves a trail of waste and destruction. WOW! …and YUK! 

Conscientious  retailers and clever manufacturers have finally realized these devastating facts and have started making and marketing paper products that are eco-friendly and attractive! Your guests will understand your commitment to the environment as well as to one another.

Recycled Paper is made from post-consumer waste. Specifically, old paper. Recycling paper saves tons (literally) of trees. Paper can be whole or part recycled and can also be mixed with other pulp products. One thing is for sure – when it is recycled, it is clearly marked. Look for the “Recycle” logo. It will look and feel just like any other paper.

Tree Free Paper is made of various fiber rich products like hemp, sugar cane, kenaf, bamboo or (ready?) elephant dung. Not one tree is used and all of these papers are made from the surplus of one product or from a highly sustainable resource. Hemp paper was used by Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Indpendence and also used to print the very first Gutenberg Bible… so it has been around for some time and lasts forever without yellowing. All of these papers look and feel organic, they have texture and a timeless, elegant beauty similar to parchment.

Plant-able Paper is  hugely popular!  Imagine after the wedding instead of throwing out the invitation, your invited guests can actually plant the invitation into the ground and flowers or herbs will grow. An amazing reminder of the day, this will be the most talked about invitation ever received.  The instructions are easy and are included with each invitation. A powerful message to remind other subliminally that love grows like a plant and it needs some nurturing along the way.  These papers have some depth due to the implantation of seeds, don’t let that discourage you, the papers are wonderful to hold in your hand, if only for a moment, before they go back to the earth. You’ll be tempted to save them – but don’t.

The only option for Greenies that I strongly disavow is the urge to go paperless. For Tupperware parties, children’s birthdays, and neighborhood pot lucks, e-invitations are fantastic. It saves time, money and trees. However, your wedding is such an important event in your life and of those who love you, to even entertain this idea for a wedding invitation is simply a big no-no. Times change and so someday this may become the norm. I’ll let you know when that happens.

If you are interested in eco-friendly options for your invitations or if the environment is your cause du jour, following three simple rules will allow a good night’s sleep and a clear conscience.

1) Talk to your stationer about eco-friendly options.

2) Make Sure the paper being used is 100% recycled waste.

3) Use a company that uses products made from sustainable, renewable  or plant-able products. By making this commitment to your partner and the earth together you can rest assured that your invitation will stand out as one that is unique and memorable. The earth will thank you.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago