Monday, March 8, 2010

Sustainable Weddings: An Approach

As I embark on this attempt to tackle descriptions of sustainable wedding planning, I want to start by making one thing clear: our weddings are necessarily a balancing act among our personal desires, our families' needs, our budgets, and our commitment to the concept of sustainability.  These are not easy things to balance, particularly when budget and personal resources are stretched thin.  That's why these posts are not meant to be prescriptive or guilt-inducing.

Instead, I want these posts to help you sort through your own sustainable choices.  Lists about green wedding choices, while helpful as a one-stop-reference and initial starting point, aren't as useful in helping us measure our means and options.  I find it more helpful to approach such things with questions and research, wanting to know the whys and wherefores underlying the list's prescriptions.  And so, I will trust my ever-so-intelligent readers to want the same. We want background.  We want the information with which to make our own informed decisions.  We want multiple options on how to achieve a greener wedding that work for our unique needs and situations. 

I wanted to start by defining what I mean by sustainability.  For me, sustainability is more than simply buying green products. It's taking a hard look at each aspect of our wedding and our lives and thinking through the three Rs of environmental action: reduce, reuse, recycle (with most of the emphasis on the first two). It's about asking whether we really need an item, whether we can find an eco-friendly option to meet that need, whether we can't and want it anyhow, or whether we say eff it and go without.  It's a lot more than buying a green product.  It's also more than simply focusing on environmental impacts - for us, we're also considering the impact of our choices on helping sustain our local community and as helping to nurture our new and intertwined family.  It's a broader, more expansive look at sustainability because what we're really aiming for is a sustainable life when assessing our physical and human resources. 

Environmental Topics
Each week, I plan to tackle one major environmental topic.  These topics will mirror the classes I teach at Sustainable Works, and will be broken into seven sections:
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Waste
  • Chemicals
  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Shopping

Posting Approach
  • I'll start the weekly post with a big picture overview about why the specific environmental topics matters and the major problems currently related to it. 
  • From there, I'll narrow the focus to the issue at hand: wedding planning.  I'll look at how typical wedding-related activities and items impact/are impacted by the week's topic.
  • Lastly, I'll offer some approaches and solutions you can use to mitigate or address the problems while planning your wedding.
Mixed in, I may add individual posts about green wedding issues that require their own separate topic.  We'll see.  Environmental issues are messy and aren't easily limited to one broad topic, so I'm not sure yet the best approach.  This is new for me too, and I'm willing to see where this posting direction takes me and which structure works best.  So let me know if you have feedback or specific questions you want covered, either in the comments or via email.


  1. Hurrah hurrah hurrah! I want our thingie to be more sustainable, so I will be reading. xo

  2. I'm excited to hear what you have to say in the coming posts. We are also trying to reduce and reuse what we can, not only for the wedding but in our day to day lives. But, like you said, there's a balancing act with family wants, your wants, tradition, your budget, time and, to be honest, your sanity. So far our score is 1 - 1. I bought a new wedding dress from a bridal store, but our venue will hold the ceremony, reception, dancing and has a hotel and camping sites - and it's within 15 miles from home for a significant number of guests. It will be interesting to see how many green L.A. wedding ideas we'll be able to pull off for our small Midwest town wedding.

  3. Interesting. I can't wait to see where you take this!

  4. Very much so looking forward to this!

  5. Awesome!

    I was certainly conscious of maybe not necessarily just being green, but being prudent and not honoring excess like some weddings do. We had a single page invitation and online RSVPs via Google docs, just seafood for cocktail hour (not 10 stations and passed apps), we didn't have floral or any centerpieces, and I bought my reception dress on eBay (will likely resell the ceremony dress). It actually was pretty easy and fun so looking forward to your thoughts.

  6. I love this! I've been taking sustainability classes in college and plan to point my career path in that direction. It's something I'm passionate about and yet there's so many people who still don't fully understand what it means. It's so much more than the trends. My professor works for the UN and has some really aggressive but brilliant ideas. The wedding industry definitely needs to be infiltrated!


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