Wednesday, April 21, 2010

40 Green Tips in Honor of Earth Day

On Thursday, we'll celebrate 40 years of Earth Day.  For us, here at WGIC, not much will be different. Every day is Earth Day for us, as we strive to be concious of our impact all the time.  Our country has been celebrating this special day for 40 years, and in the past decade it's even become trendy and cool to be green. But some people still aren't on board. Some people think it's expensive or time-consuming to be eco-friendly.  Others imagine eating wheat grass and using scratchy, beige, recycled paper products. We're here to tell you that being green has come a long way. 

In honor of Earth Day's 40th Anniversary, we present you with 40 fun, easy, and affordable ways to go green at your next event. We promise that if you do, you'll make a big impact on your guests, but not the environment!

1. Choose an earth-friendly paper company to create your invitations, save-the-dates, menus and more. Foosie Design is our favorite!

2. Use a wedding website to send guests information and to collect RSVPs.  This will cut back on the amount of paper needed for your invitations.

3. Wear a gently used wedding dress, or donate yours when you're done so someone else can benefit.

4. Have your bridesmaids select their own dresses in styles that suit them.  They will be able to wear them again for other functions, creating less waste.

5.  Have your event at a venue with lots of natural lighting to cut down on electricity use.

6. Host an outdoor party in a mild season.  Cool breezes and warm sunshine will keep your guests comfortable without using air conditioning or heat.

7. Use potted plants as centerpieces.  Cut flowers make a big impact on the Earth and are dying as soon as they are cut. Plants can last for years and make a wonderful thank you gift to those who help with clean-up!

8. Use second-hand items. Hosting an afternoon tea party? Head to your local thrift shop for cute mis-matched tea cups and saucers instead of buying new ones.  Supporting second-hand shops helps keep these items out of the landfills.

9. Always serve food and drinks in glassware and not disposable plastic or paper.

10.  Choose a venue that will accomodate your wedding ceremony and reception to cut back on unneccessary travel.

11. Opt for a caterer who uses local, organic foods.

12.  Request digital proofs from your photographer instead of printed ones. 

13. Find a caterer who donates leftovers, composts scraps, and recycles materials.

14. Collect tables, chairs and linens from friends and family. Mis-matched tables can create playful whimsy for a children's party or an outdoor barbeque.

15. Off-set the carbon footprint of your event with sites like

16. Print agendas, itineraries, maps and more on recycled paper.

17. If you're using flowers for decor, make sure you pick blooms that are locally grown and in season to cut down on the costs of transporting them.

18. Use paper or cloth flowers instead of real ones.  When you're done, give them to a friend or donate them to someone else to be used.

19. Choose a location that is convenient to the largest number of guests to cut down on the impact of travel.

20. Instead of placing disposable cameras on every table, ask guests to take pictures with their own digital cameras (who doesn't have one these days?) and then upload them on to a community website for everyone to share.

21. Use recycled wine bottles as vases and centerpieces, rather than buying or renting vases.  It's cheaper and keeps the bottles out of the landfills.

22. Use pieces from nature as decor. Leaves, branches, flowers, driftwood, seashells, grass, small trees, even tree stumps can make great decor.

23. Have your decor do double duty. Give potted plant centerpieces to guests as a thank you for helping with set-up or clean-up.  Or use beautifully packaged favors as decor along a table.

24. If you have to use disposable dinnerware, opt for a recycled brand or those made from a renewable resource like bamboo.

25. If most of your guests are from out of town, rent a bunch of bikes and keep them at the hotel for them to explore your city. 

26. Bring reusable containers to package leftover food for you and your guests.

27. Hire an acoustic band to entertain guests. Keep the venue and guest list small to create an intimate environment that won't require amps for the music. This will cut down on energy usage.

28. Give local, home-made favors that don't require shipping cross-country or poor manufacturing processes.

29. Use fruits and veggies in centerpieces. Although flowers can be composted too, foods can be donated to a local foodbank or taken home and used by the host, eliminating even more waste.

30. Place recycling and compost bins in an easily accessible area. Be sure to clearly label them with restrictions on what can be placed in the bins. 

31. Send plantable invitations that can be composted or turned into a beautiful growing reminder of your fete.

32. Use LED lights or soy wax candles to create artificial light, if needed.

33. Purchase favors and thank you gifts from Fair-Trade shops.

34. Instead of favors, make a donation to a local charity in your guests' names.

35. Always use vendors who have also have green values. 

36. Planning a bar at your event? Serve wine from a local vineyard or beer that is locally brewed to cut down on the impact of transportation.

37. If you're set on sending an actual invitation (as opposed to an e-vite), send a postcard to eliminate excess paper. Include a website for extra information that won't fit.

38. Use cloth linens, not paper.

39. Choose menu items that can be prepared on a gas grill, which emits less carbon than other methods.

40.  Spread the word.  Your guests will be a lot more on board with participating in your green event if they know about it in advance. So let them know on the invitations or website or in any contact you have with them prior to the occasion.

What about you? What's your favorite go-to tip for planning a green event? Leave a comment and let us know what's worked for you and what hasn't.

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