Posts Tagged ‘eco-friendly’

Green Wedding Favours

Wedding favours were a point of green decision making. M wasn’t sure we needed favours at all, but I liked the idea of people leaving with something that really reminded them who we are.

The challenge with most wedding favours is the waste involved. Anything food related will probably come wrapped in plastic, something I really wanted to avoid, and we didn’t want anything that would just get thrown away.

Green Favours

Inspired by Pinterest, our wedding favours were green – literally. What we thought would be most meaningful and representative of us would be to grow something that we could give to people to plant. It would be waste-free, and would produce food!

We planted a forest of herb seedlings in our dimly lit kitchen for this purpose. But a series of mishaps got in the way. First of all, only half of the seeds germinated. Then, suffering from poor light, many of the baby seedlings stretched out and produced weak stems, and many of them just weren’t growing very fast. Then, disaster, I tipped over the seedling container, massacring  over half of the seeds. It looked like herb seedlings weren’t in the cards!

Tomato seedling forest

Tomato seedling forest

By chance, I had over-planted tomato seeds for ourselves in a fit of optimism (what do you mean, 30 plants won’t fit on our shared rooftop balcony?), and they were coming up beautifully. We re-potted them in peat pots, that can be directly planted (no wasteful plastic pots), and these became our wedding favours.

Of course, plants woudn’t work for everyone. Some of our guests came in from out of town, and bringing a plant home isn’t really feasible. So, for those guests, we put together packets of home-mixed tea, using fair-trade organic red rooibos from Gathering Place, home-grown (by a colleague) mint leaves, and organic chocolate chips to create some tasty, caffeine-free mint-chocolate tea.

Reactions

People loved them! Lots of people said they were excited about the tomatoes, and everyone loved in general that we had made our own favours. Although the favours were a bit of a stress factor right up until the end – repotting tomatoes the day before my wedding wasn’t exactly my ideal plan – they totally came off well. A lot of it was thanks to the last-minute hard work by our houseguests, who turned the seedlings into beautiful gifts with kraft paper tags.

Tea & Tomatoes - DIY Favours

Tea & Tomatoes – DIY Favours

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Green Wedding Planning Details

Obviously, in the course of the last few weeks, writing about everything that is going on has fallen to the wayside. But I still want to document it all, if for no other reason than so I remember it all later! So here is a roundup of all of the details I haven’t written about so far. I have found much inspiration from the Offbeat Bride site, as well as collecting images on my Pinterest board.

Photography

Practice photo session, Shari Riley Photography

Practice photo session, Shari Riley Photography

Photography is a super important part of a wedding, and having been to a number of weddings where the photography has been either amazing and very well coordinated, or interruptive and distracting, I knew this was important. For M and I, as a lesbian couple and neither of us in love with having our pictures taken, we needed someone who would make us feel comfortable, while leaving us with great pictures at the end!

I was really pleased that a book club friend of mine, who photographed another friend’s wedding (while also being a bridesmaid!), agreed to be our photographer. Having someone we know makes us both feel more comfortable, and we love to give someone we know the business. Shari Riley Photography.

Officiant

Similar to the photographer, we would have really liked to have someone close to us be the officiant. It is such an intimate yet public thing, saying marriage vows in front of your family and friends. Unfortunately, unlike in much of the US, it is not legal in BC for a friend or family member to get ordained to perform a wedding. But as a second best option, the mother of one of my oldest friends is a judge, and she offered to perform our ceremony. So although it is not a close friend or family member, at least our officiant is a woman, and has at least known me for a long time. She also had some lovely selection of vows, which was perfect for us, who wanted something personalized but didn’t feel up to the task of writing our own.

ShoesKaruna Shoes

Here’s what I was looking for: eco-friendly, purple flats. My partner is 5 feet tall, to my 5’6″, so heels were out of the question. Purple is our signature colour – M is wearing a eggplant-purple shirt. And of course, eco-friendly, which generally meant I was looking for recycled or low-impact matarials, vegan, and locally made.

It turns out, this was a fairly tall order. I even just started looking for any old purple flats, and came up empty handed. The only eco-friendly shoe store in Vancouver is Nice Shoes, and they had nothing that came close. M did get her wedding shoes there, though.

With some trepidation, I turned to the internet. Luckily, I stumbled across the perfect shoes. Karuna Shoes, although not local, are vegan, eco-friendly, the soles are made of recycled tires, and are hand-screened. The small company is in Columbia, and they were very helpful through email, and the shoes arrived in great shape and in lots of time!

Collected accessories

Collected accessories

Accessories

This was my chance to be a little bit funky. First came the earrings, which M found at a fair trade store in Gibsons. Recycled wire bicycles will hang from my ears, matching a pin on her vest. My necklace was sourced at Make It! Vancouver, a local craft fair, and is made of wood by Mana Jewelry Designs. I also found some hair pins at Make It!, vintage style, by Flight  Path Designs. I may not be the most coordinated of brides, but I love it all!

Music

This is the piece I am perhaps most nervous about. To save some costs, and also because the venue doesn’t boast a giant dance floor, we decided to put together our own playlist for the wedding. We have tried to get the right mix of new and old, upbeat dance and slow music, with hits from the 80s and 90s that will hopefully appeal to our 30-something friends, classic oldies for the parents, aunts and uncles, and some recent pop for the clubbers and 20-somethings. Given the venue, still not sure if people will really dance, but hopefully with enough beer in them, it will happen!

Countdown

I am now only a few days away from the Big Day. Out of towners start arriving tomorrow. Although I feel confident that things are together, the part of me that hates event planning is still sweating the details. Mostly, I just want it all to be fun, for M, for me, and of course, for the 55 friends and family joining us this weekend. Bring on the party!

Location, Location, Location

The hinge in the wedding planning was where it was going to happen. Two main considerations for choosing our venue: environmental considerations, and simplicity. Luckily, the two go hand in hand. We also worked with a tight timeline, about 5 months in the planning process.

Eco-Friendly Considerations

We wanted to pick a local business, with a preference for a local brewery, since beer is going to be a main staple of our reception. We also wanted somewhere central, and close to a place we could host an outdoor ceremony, to reduce the driving that people will do to get there. Somewhere that will take care of all aspects – food, drinks, decoration, AV, etc – reduces the transportation costs of bringing those things in. And a place that looks nice in itself won’t require decorations and flowers, things that are produced just for one day, and then discarded. Also, somewhere with good vegetarian food options was key.

Simplicity

Neither my partner nor I are the type to go crazy for the trappings of weddings. Decorations? Nope. Seating chart? No thanks. Flowers? What for? All of those details just make planning the event work, instead of fun. So it was important to us to find somewhere that would take care of as much of the details as possible, without that becoming crazy expensive. Finding a place that just looks nice all on it’s own is key, and that provides as many of the details as possible, just reduces our stress about things we don’t care about. Although I may have loved having an outdoor wedding at a farm, in the end, having to deal with things like catering, chair/tent rentals, liquor licenses, transportation, and everything else just wouldn’t make it worth it.

Ceremony Reception Combo

Ceremony location

Ceremony location

We were keen to have our ceremony outdoors. Both M and I are outdoorsy types, and, at least to me, it just seems right to say our vows outside, in a park. But we didn’t want to have to deal with people driving to one location, then driving to another (bad carbon footprint!), or renting some kind of bus to move everyone along. The ideal was somewhere that had both a reception location and ceremony venue within walking distance. We also want to keep the ceremony short and simple, with guests standing and no walking-down-the-aisle.

Where We Landed

After some wandering, exploring, and a pub crawl in Gastown (I know, the hardships), we narrowed it down to two locations. Granville Island Brewery was a fantastic option, which would have been funky and allowed us to get all sustainable, veggie catering from Savoury City, but unfortunately, their liquor license currently restricts them to 6 such events per year. So we’ve ended up at Steamworks Brewery, on the edge of Gastown.

Keeping the Eco-Theme

Steamworks Harbour View Room

Steamworks Harbour View Room

Although Steamworks’ veggie menu was limited, the event manager worked with us to provide an all vegetarian menu, with a few vegan options, and is a local brewery. A 5 minute walk (through Waterfront station) will connect us to Crab Park at Portside, an oceanside park in the city with great views of the mountains and city, where we will have our ceremony.

In our invitation and follow up directions, we have encouraged our guests to take transit where possible. Although I have no idea how many of them will take me up on it (I take buses to other people’s weddings, but I may be in a minority), we made the venue accessible by being very central. Also, parking is expensive downtown Vancouver, so hopefully that discourages people! Most of our out of town guests are staying at a hotel across the street.

Although I do think that we could have found somewhere that fit our bill a little better, I think we’ve done a pretty good job in keeping with what is important to us. I will work on keeping waste low by hopefully limiting straw use!

Eco-Friendly Wedding Rings

I’d just like to start with this statement: Diamonds are not a girl’s best friend. I have many, probably pretty obvious, ethical issues with diamonds. There is, of course, the issue of conflict (“blood”) diamonds. But even conflict-free, supposedly eco-friendly Canadian mined diamonds have their issues, as does any mining activity, impacting greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, and habitat destruction.

But aside from that, I’m just not the type of person to have a rock on my finger that catches on clothes, scratches, and then of course I would probably lose, because that’s what happens to me.

Before even the hint of wedding planning, our rings were sourced. I was sitting on the bleachers at my end-of-season softball tournament, and I overheard a conversation behind me from one of the girls on another team, talking about her family business of wooden ring making, For the Love of Wood Rings. These beautiful, unique rings are made from sustainable materials, harvested from scrap bins and from trees on family property. They are made in North Vancouver, so we are able to support a local business and nullify long-distance transportation. Each type of wood represents different things, so we were able to select what was meaningful for us.

As one of the enduring, physical objects that will remain long after the wedding is over, we were so happy to find rings that matched our personalities and our ethics.

Rings

My Green Gay Wedding Part 2

Invitations

One of the things we’ve used to keep things simple is to keep the timeline between announcement and wedding short, about 5 months of planning. Which made eco-friendly invitations an easier sell.

I’ve heard all the arguments against e-invites. “Tacky.” So what? We’re not doing this for someone else’s satisfaction. “What about people who don’t use email?” Well, if those people exist, you can send that one person a card (or call them). But I personally don’t care about paper cards or invites, and had zero interest in paying a bunch of money for an inherently wasteful product. Spend it on food and drinks, that’s what will be remembered anyway!

Some advice about e-invites. Shop around to find a good option. We started with evite, which is great for party invites, but is just a bit too casual for this. We ended up using Pingg because it had nice options, and a good RSVP system. We also opted for the $10 upgrade to get rid of ads, because that is pretty tacky, and we’re not that cheap.

So far, haven’t had any complaints. At least not to my face.

Invitation Pingg cropped

My Green Gay Wedding Part 1

I’ve always loved weddings, I have to admit. Not all the trappings that go with it – the flowers, the decorations, dresses, bridal showers, maids of honour, etc – but just the simple fact of people coming together to celebrate the love two people have for each other.

But, like I said, I dislike most of the details that come along with it. As an environmentalist and a person generally abhorrent of waste, I don’t fully get the need to spend huge sums of money on one day, with all the accompanying garbage created. And, as a self-confessed introvert, I’ve never been super keen on that walking-down-the-aisle, centre-of-attention thing.

To top it off, my partner is a girl. So, to say that we fall into the non-traditional category would about sum it up.

So how do we plan our perfect wedding? Eco-friendly, as waste-free as possible, low cost, and true to our characters? There aren’t a lot of examples to follow out there (certainly not when I Google it, anyway), and we don’t have any friends or family that have blazed this trail before us. Although I hadn’t caught the bug, wedding planning finally introduced me to the fun of Pinterest, where I try to visualize what ours might look like.

The Dress

I almost hate to admit it, but I got excited about the idea of the dress. This was my opportunity to get exactly what I wanted – eco-friendly, locally designed and made, and not worry so much about the cost. I wasn’t looking for traditional, and yet for some reason, I wanted it to be sort of white.

I explored local designers, including great stuff from Nicole Bridger, and checked out some vintage stores. But in the end, I went with local eco-designer Pure Magnolia. It was a perfect match for me.

Dress, check.

Dotted-Mini-623x1024

Letting go of vanity

Every time I see a movie or read a book on environmentalism, I get convinced of one more thing I need to give up or stop doing. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been convinced to give up mascara, to buy sunscreen without parabens (amazingly difficult to find!), to buy only organic, non-GMO soy milk, and many other small changes.

A combination of the Clean Bin Project and David Suzuki Queen of Green’s Dirty Dozen convinced me to finally give up dyeing my hair a while ago. And I have to say, I miss it. I have always had a very blah kind of hair colour… light brown, very nondescript. Since I was 13 years old, I have had blond, black, blue, bleached, red, purple, and auburn hair, to name a few. I love how hair is an impermanent thing that’s easy to change, and colouring my hair often gave me a whole new look.

But I knew that it was bad. Even with no knowledge of how it was bad, how can letting all those chemicals go down the drain possibly be a good thing? I couldn’t, in good conscience, let these chemicals pollute our water any more just because I didn’t like my hair colour. So I gave it up. Now my hair is boring, and healthy.

But one of my favourite blogs, David Suzuki’s Queen of Green, posted this week on eco-friendly hair dye. As part of my Social Media Marketing course assignment, I dugg her article, because she always gives great, accessible tips that are relevant to a wide audience. Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green, is a wealth of information on Do It Yourself projects and lifestyle-greening tips.

For a lot of people, who care about the environment but aren’t as hyper-aware of their own footprint, the kind of accessibility that Lindsay provides is invaluable. There are many things that I have been surprised to discover, and for me, new information has a strong impact on my future behaviours. The Queen of Green blog provides easy information on everything from what can be recycled to how to care for Mason bees.

Navigating a more sustainable world can be pretty tricky, when the norm is the opposite of sustainability. It takes more awareness and a little more effort to seek out the most environmentally friendly options for toilet paper, window cleaner, deodorant, laundry. It’s more time consuming and arguably more expensive (although I guarantee I spend less on things than most people) to shop at the farmer’s market, buy organic, local foods, make pasta from scratch. But for me it’s totally worth it.

Hair dye was a tough thing for me to give up. But it’s only vanity. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll seek out the eco-friendly dyes. Maybe I should just make peace with my natural hair colour.

Most people have something important to them that’s caused them to give up something or other. For some, the passion is fair trade, fair wages. For others, cancer has hit close to home, and cutting out toxins is key.

Have you ever given up something that you loved, on principle?