Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, REJOICE!
10 Tips to Green Your Jewish WeddingBy Maria Bywater
You know the three-word mantra of the environmental movement: reduce, reuse, recycle. I’m adding a fourth word: REJOICE! Infuse your wedding with your personal values and deepen the joy. Our ten tips to green your Jewish wedding:
1. Aim to delight rather than impress.
Dampen the impulse to make your event special by having lots of stuff and indulging in grand gestures to impress your guests. Instead, focus on your guests’ comfort and enjoyment. In a era of over-the-top weddings, this approach will make your wedding one to remember.
Do you want a festive reception? Don’t worry about filling the room with flowers and decorations. Instead, the day before the wedding ask ten family members and friends to get the dancing started as soon as the music starts.
Skip the three-foot-tall pedestal flower centerpieces. Opt for fruit arrangements, using local producers if you can, and set out chocolates that your guests can enjoy sneaking.
2. Serve kosher organic foods produced through sustainable practices.
If you want to eat ethically and serve your guests ethically, you might think that a vegetarian menu is your only option. But there is a new option: kosher sustainable organic meat. Visit the KOL Foods website or call 888-366-3565.
3. Set up a wedding website to cut down on mailings.
Sites like eWedding.com and Wedding Channel.com make it easy to set up a beautiful, free personal wedding website. You can post the kind of information that you’d otherwise have to print and insert into all your mailed invitations, like hotel reservations and maps. These sites usually include free email accounts – use them to collect RSVPs, and you can skip the printed response cards and return envelopes.
4. Rent rather than buy or DIY.
Renting consumes fewer resources than buying or DIYing. And online vendors are making it easier to rent. Adorn.com, for example, rents diamond jewelry especially for weddings.
5. Choose wedding rings of recycled gold.
When gold is mined, the materials pulled out of the mine are often dumped nearby, damaging the local environment and destroying local animal populations. Instead of buying a ring of newly mined gold, buy a vintage ring, give new life to a family heirloom, or buy a ring made from recycled reclaimed gold. Two online sources are greenKarat and Brilliant Earth. If you’re in Chicago, make an appointment to visit Leber Jeweler.
6. Use seeded recycled paper for wedding invitations.
Eco-friendly and eco-fun: Invitations made from seeded recycled paper. After the wedding, plant them in the ground, and the seeds embedded in the paper grow into flowers. Companies like Custom Earth Promos use 100% recycled paper, soy-based and water-based inks, and organic pigments.
7. Search for local foods, flowers, wedding venues and vendors.
Prima Donna roses and White Dream tulips sound lovely, but if you have to ship them in from Amsterdam, the environmental cost isn’t so pretty. Ask your florist about flower options close to home. Tell your caterer that you’d like to take advantage of food harvested locally.
If you live in Washington, DC take a look at Green and Just Celebrations: A Purchasing Guide for Washington Jewish Families, published by Jews United for Justice. For couples near us in Maryland, see our list of Silver Spring, Maryland wedding resources.
8. Purchase carbon emission offsets to counter the environmental impact of wedding travel.
A wedding guest who makes a round trip flight between New York City and Washington, DC generates more than 400 lbs. of carbon emissions. This calculation comes from TerraPass, one of several organizations that will calculate the carbon emissions associated with wedding travel and the cost of offsetting the emissions. These organizations accept donations to offset the carbon emissions and use the money to help fund clean energy or sustainable development projects, like wind power.
Instead of giving party favors, purchase carbon emission offsets, and put cards on the reception tables telling guests about the projects being funded by the donation. For a list of reputable carbon offset organizations, visit Green America.
9. Skip the wedding party favors.
This is a simple way to reduce consumption. Your guests will enjoy your celebration just as well if they don’t have a trinket to take home. If you’ve had kippot (yarmulkes) or bentschers (booklets with blessings for the meal) made up, let guests take them home as reminders of your wedding day.
10. Save a blown light bulb to stomp on at the end of the wedding ceremony.
Chances are, sometime during your engagement period a light bulb will blow in your home. Don’t throw it out; not if it’s an old-fashioned incandescent bulb. First step: Replace the bulb with an energy-saving compact fluorescent bulb. Second step: Save the blown light bulb for the ceremonial glass-breaking stomp at the end of the wedding ceremony. The bonus: Smashing the bulb will give you a louder, more satisfying *POP* than a drinking glass will. Wrap the bulb well in a cloth napkin, and give it a good stomp. Mazel tov!
More Jewish wedding planning resources:
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