These days, I’m a wedding photographer and a painter.
A long time ago (in a galaxy far far away?) I was an environmental geochemist ***more on that in a footnote at the bottom. It wasn’t that long ago, actually.
Why do you care? What does this have to do with weddings, anyway?
Well…I used to be a geochemist…I’m now a photographer who is deeply committed to the environment.
Weddings are a one day event where a lot of stuff is specially made to use on that day…and then what?
So how can we make your wedding greener?
There are a few big picture things to think about. Where did the stuff come from? What is its purpose? Where will it go after you’re done with it?
Anything can be thought about just a little more to make it more environmentally friendly in some way. Making thoughtful choices in any of those big picture areas can help a lot. Here are some ideas:
Paper items? They can be made from recycled paper, or cotton paper, or hemp paper. There are soy-based and other environmentally friendly inks. Recycle the paper after. Compost it.
Flowers? You can … use a local company that uses a local flower grower. This helps the local economy but it also saves on carbon costs related to shipping/travel. There are also florists who forage and make arrangements based on season…so they might use more dried elements during winter. Give the flowers a second life of some kind after … Donate them. Compost them. Dry them and save them.
Clothing? You can … buy from environmentally conscious designers. Wear vintage. Buy used. Know where your dress was made. Keep or donate.
Decorations? You can … make them. Repurpose things and use them. Choose things made without plastic. Give them a second life. Buy them from someone who already used them. Donate them after. Join a wedding board and sell them. Use a planner who makes things…sometimes they keep them to use again or re-purpose.
Jewelry? Know where your jewelry comes from. What kind of stone are you buying? Use a local jeweler. Buy from a smaller scale artist. Wear vintage.
Photographer? Yep. Even my category. As an artist who values print, how do I maintain my commitment to the environment? I make sure the albums I make for people are of the highest quality and will last. Same for printing of photos. Everything is made to last. I choose companies for printing based on that quality and I make sure they have animal friendly options for covers, they use environmentally friendly packaging, they pack things efficiently, etc. In addition, instead of printing a huge amount of paper to be tossed, like postcards, flyers, magazine guides, welcome packets, business cards, etc…I do everything else digitally. The art is amazing and high quality. Everything else is digital.
Food? Choose local. Choose quality ingredients made by local farms. Choose things with less packaging or without plastic. If you’re having a less formal backyard wedding, use compostable or reusable plates/flatware. We went to Il Vicino the other night and they have paper straws! So cool. Use paper straws. Use no straws. Go for options other than plastic.
Ok. Let’s be real. Some of these options are definitely going to be more expensive. If budget isn’t a concern for you, then choosing environmentally friendly options across the board is easy. If you’re on a tight budget and you’re concerned about the environment, you can pick and choose. If the environment doesn’t matter to you at all, then I’m not sure why you’re still reading this. 😉
For me, I choose quality over quantity most of the time. In my business and in my personal life. I want something that will last and not be tossed out next week because it’s already breaking down. I don’t shop a lot, but when I do, I go to local as much as I can. When we dine out, we go to local places. I do shop at a chain for body products, but they use very little packaging and they do a lot of charity work around the world (Lush). We try to buy as little plastic as possible. We recycle and take bags to the store most times. haha Sometimes we forget. We’re human.
Even making one or two changes can go a long way to help.
If you’re really interested in this and you want to make your wedding more environmentally friendly, but you have no idea where to start … I’m happy to help if I can. Send me your questions and I will do my best to answer them or find you someone who can.
***The footnote from above 🙂
As an undergraduate student, I did a senior thesis about travel of acid mine drainage chemicals via river sediment. As a masters student I did a masters thesis about fast travel of uranium and strontium in the ground above the water table when when flushed with water (like during a large rain). As a PhD student (I passed my exams, completed my coursework, and left midway through a project that was too big for one person), my dissertation was about faster water flowpaths through channels of smaller and more even grain size in sediment. I taught lectures, I taught lab classes, I worked as a chemist at a national lab for several years, and then I worked as an environmental consultant doing environmental remediation.
I have so many friends who are scientists. We met in school and now they work all over the world. A lot of them study climate change.
We’re not going to have a climate change lesson in this post, though that will be coming in another series of blog posts. The way I see it, most of my scientist friends are on social media and they post a lot about climate change science…which is then read by other scientists in their circle. But are regular folks who aren’t scientists and don’t know what to think about climate change or don’t get science at all reading any of that stuff? Probably not. I’m really good at speaking to regular folks about science in a way that isn’t confusing to people who might not already be great at science. I think I have a duty to do that.
So stay tuned for a series of blog posts about climate science. For anyone who thinks “stay in your lane”… Welp. I’m a former scientist who has a reach to people outside the science community. I have knowledge to share and I’m able to answer questions about science in an approachable way. Nobody will ever be made to feel like an idiot asking me a question about science. I’m not too proud to say “I don’t know the answer to this” and find someone who does. And frankly, we’re in a place now, as humans, where this is our lane. All of us. Now is the time for concern.