Why Weddings Pose a Green Problem...And How You Can Solve It

"An invitation to a wedding invokes more trouble than a summons to a police court" - in terms of the environment, that is. No matter how eco-friendly my friends and family's weddings, if I, as a wedding guest, do not take eco-and monetarily conscious steps when attending nuptials, my actions can add to the footprint of even the most eco-friendly planned wedding. How?


1. Wedding guests spend an average of $500 dollars to attend a wedding.

2. The average wedding emits 63 tons of CO2.[1] Who is the biggest contributor to that CO2 emission? Friends and family!

3. Using this calculator I calculated that the 2 weddings I am attending this year will generate 2,895 lbs of CO2 and cost me $1,000.

I do believe we can make our own green wedding attendance plans. Here is a breakdown of where I think I can do to save green and be an eco-friendly guest this wedding season:

  • Travel Green. As my colleague Karen said in this blog post, look at three different factors when making travel arrangements: how far you are going, what is your vehicle, and, how many people are traveling with you? "If your party has two people and you are traveling 1,000 miles then flying economy beats out driving - the flight creates 835 pounds of CO2 while driving would create 1,125 pounds of CO2." You might then also consider purchasing the appropriate quantity of carbon offsets ($17.85 will offset my 2,895 lbs of CO2).
  • Dress Green. Throw caution to the wind and dare to wear something from your current closet, even if other guests have previously seen it. A classic almost always works. (Not to mention the $200 savings you can pocket).
  • Stay Green. Share rooms, reduce electricity and air conditioning use, and request your towels to be washed every other day. You can save 1.3 gallons of water daily per room (and even more if you share!)[2]
  • Give Green. Make and give an eco-friendly gift. Not only will this reduce your financial and environmental expenditure, but giving an off-registry homemade gift can have greater positive meaning for the newlyweds. (Not crafty? Cash is also a perfectly acceptable green gift.)
  • Eat Green. Ask for the vegetarian or the fish option - even if you like meat. In my experience, the veggie option is often prepared individually and tastes better than its companion meat dish. Some research also implies that producing a calorie of meat protein means burning more than ten times as much fossil fuel, and spewing more than ten times as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide, as does a calorie of plant protein.[3]
  • Drink Green. Request locally produced beverages on draft, wherever possible. Not only do you minimize packaging and travel, but drinking locally can also provide you with a better cultural flavor of the wedding location.

I believe that everybody, not just the wedding planners, can do their part to generate a greener wedding. Here's to a happy (green) wedding season.








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