Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It IS Easy Being Green!

Everyone remembers Kermit the Frog lamenting that "it's not easy being green!" These days, that couldn't be more wrong. It's so easy to be green. And it pays to be green too! Well, no one is actually going to pay you, but you'll definitely see more green in your wallet if you go green at your next event.

The biggest (and most expensive) event that most of us will ever host is our wedding (or our kid's wedding). With these easy and affordable tips on how to go green at your wedding, you can still make a big impact on your guests without impacting the environment!

1. Donate Your Leftovers: All caterers overestimate how much food you will need for your reception. It's a necessary evil. Instead of tossing the remaining food, arrange for your caterer to donate it to a local food bank or homeless shelter. Note: In some areas, the laws do not allow caterers to do this. You may need to find a friend or family member who can take the leftover food to the shelter themselves.

The Impact: No leftovers rotting in your fridge while you're in Hawaii, and dozens of needy people can have a delicious gourmet meal!

2. Skip the Favors: Where do most wedding favors end up? The landfill. No one really wants that little bottle of bubbles or a stale box of Jordan Almonds. While there are some cute favor ideas (lucky Bamboo, plantable seeds, home-made goodies), most require packaging or delivery that makes an big impact on the environment. So forgo actual favors for a more socially-conscious kind of favor. At my wedding, we chose three charities who were near and dear to our hearts. We made a cute bulletin board with information about the charities and why we chose them. And then we asked our guests to pin their name tags to the charity of their choice. After the honeymoon, we made a donation in our guests' names to the charity they chose.

The Impact: Guests feel good about helping out, there's no kitschy plastic favors being tossed in the trash bin the next morning, and the chosen charities get a boost!

3. Set up a Community Wedding Album: At my wedding alone, we had 20 disposable plastic cameras. How many good pictures did we get from them? About 4. Most were grainy, dark and blurry. And where are those cameras now? In the landfill. These days, most guests have their own digital cameras, so instead of providing a less-than-adequate substitute, set up an online wedding album for your guests to share the pictures they took with you and each other. With sites like Shutterfly, Picasa, and Flickr, it's easy to do and free! Just set up an account and let guests know about it with a quick line in the thank you cards or small cards at the place-settings.

The Impact: You'll get way more pictures than your photographer could ever capture, and there won't be dozens of plastic cameras clogging our landfills.

4. Shed Those Extra Envelopes: Traditional wedding invitations have more layers than an onion. But are they really necessary? Some people will say yes, but I say "no way!" Get rid of that outer envelope. And design postcards for your reply cards. This will help eliminate a 2nd enevelope too. And do you really need the enclosure cards? Instead, create a free wedding website with all that extra information, like menu choices, maps to the ceremony and receptions, contact information for local hotels, etc . . . .

The Impact: Less paper being wasted and a lot of money saved! All those pieces can really add up.

Have you gone green at your wedding or other event? What are your favorite "going green" tips? Leave us a comment!

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