This was asked by a reporter recently, and I thought I’d publish my full remarks…
We live in a time where people have a growing concern for our environment– loss of biodiversity, pollution, social injustices, and fossil fuel dependency. This concern has driven millions of people to choose a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. These consumers are known at the LOHAS (Lifestyle of the Healthy and Sustainable) market, and are about 50 million people in the US today. This market represents individuals who are willing to pay more to have an organic, healthy lifestyle that supports sustainable systems.
Vibrant Events was started because I feel that the wedding industry has missed the opportunity to support the sustainable economy. It sells over-consumption and unsustainable products, trying to get brides and grooms to buy more, more, more. Until just the last three years, it was extraordinarily difficult for couples to fully integrate their sustainable lifestyles into their wedding. It took 1) a lot of research and work to find the right products and services, and 2) it was hard to find sources that lived up to a certain refined style aesthetic people wanted for their wedding. But now with the onset of companies like Organic Bouquet, Brilliant Earth, and the HauteGreen movement happening in NYC, there are plenty of high quality, and high style sustainable alternatives to meet every couples needs.
Within the green wedding market there has been a wonderful trend in wedding gowns. The fashion industry has been slow to green itself, for a number of reasons, so I can’t be more happy to see today the amazing trend among gown designers to think eco-friendly. I’m certain this will continue and grow as more designers think outside of the box, and create stylish and sustainable alternatives for the green-minded bride!
But of course, my favorite trend within green weddings, is the ability for couples to offset the carbon emissions from the event through several organizations like CarbonFund.org. Though still controversial, I’m a big believer in using innovative solutions to combat the challenges we face environmentally and socially, and to me, carbon offsetting is a solution we can engage in now. I like that kind of immediate gratification, and I think most brides and grooms do too!
What is the most effective way to let event attendees know the special event is green?
Great question, and one of my current favorite’s to help clients produce! Recently I commented to Teresa’s blog post on a wedding invitation she recieved and her concern over the sustainability of the food on the menu she had to pick from– beef, fish or vegetatrian. Her post is a great example of a guest that have sustainable values, and wants to know you’ve considered the future of the planet in the poduction of your special event.
So, to get the conversation rolling that you are having a green special event start with the invitation– the first point of contact. Be sure to include that is is printed on recycled paper, or has plantable seeeds embedded. Guests will be looking for this information– I’m telling you!
Next, if you are serving an organic and seasonal feast, let them know — “We’re proud to serve you a variety of seasonal and local organic foods at our special event…”. And because fish populations are dying around the world do to over fishing, let your guests know you and your caterer are serving sustainably sourced seafood! It will give everyone some peace of mind when making their selections.
Next, post it on your web site. Be sure to include a section of your site that lists your commitments to greening your special event. Consider linking to local resources for more information or to nonprofit organizations that inspire you to care for the planet. It’s important to engage your guests in who you are and what you care about!
Next, include in your program some language that you have greened your event. I like to have a heading that says “Greening Graduation” — if it’s a graduation I’m producing. You should include any sustainable vendor names that you feel deserve recognition, and list all the ways you integrated organic, local, seasonal, and carbon offsets in to your event.
Next, if you are having a program of some sort, or at the wedding reception, consider making a public announcement — “To showcase our values for the future of the planet we’ve created an event that is zero waste, has a low carbon impact, and is water conscious….”. Encourage guests to do that same at their next event and through out their lives– this is where your thoughtful “green favor” will come in handy!
Finally, display a plaque at your buffet or at your check-in table. Show all your guests that this is something meaningful to you and important by displaying it in the open. It is amazing how many people read these plaques and have side conversations on how cool it is…I’ve seen it, many times!
Have fun sharing your values and commitments to a healthy and vibrant future we all desire! Let me know if you’ve done something you thought was unique others should try.
With summer upon us, I’m planning on hosting a lot of BBQ picnics. What suggestions do you have to make it a family and earth-friendly day?
BBQ picnics are a great way to gather friends and family for a great time, but many people are unaware of the environmental tolls these events have on our planet. The thousands of paper plates, plastic forks and vinyl table cloths that get trashed each year is a huge waste of resources and takes itâ€™s toll, unnecessarily, filling landfills. Here are some things to consider when planning your special event this summer:
- One of the most important things you can do is stay away from charcoal lighter fluid. It is full of volatile organic compounds (VOCâ€™s) that evaporate into the charcoal and help get it started. But then when you cook your food over it those toxins go into the food and then eventually into your body. This causes health problems, especially in children, but when the VOCâ€™s escape into the atmosphere they become one of the primary contributors to the creation of ozone, trapping heat in our atmosphere, aiding in global warming. Instead consider a charcoal chimney, which uses newspaper to heat your coals instead of lighter fluid. And of course propane BBQâ€™s are a better way to go as well.
- Eat organic, and when you canâ€™t, buy local! This reduces the amount of pollution causing pesticides and promotes healthy soils and agricultural practices, and reduces pollution caused by shipping your food from locations far from your home.
- Eliminate paper napkins, plastic garbage bags, cups and cutlery. Cloth tablecloths, silverware, and glasses always add a touch of class to your event, and can be taken home and washed â€“ always the more environmentally responsible choice. But if you must go with disposable, why not consider purchase biodegradable bags, plates, cups and cutlery made from cornstarch and can be composted after your picnic. These new eco-innovations can be purchased online at GreenHome.com and the price is coming down all the time!
- Keep the bugs away with non-toxic insect repellants this summer. Toxic repellants have endocrine disrupters and powerful chemicals which have long term effects in the human body. Choose new improved natural repellants that donâ€™t make you sick, or harm your body like Orange Guard, or
Whether you BBQ just over a holiday weekend or at anytime of the year, these tips are universal. And if you feel you just can’t get to all of this, just bringing an environmental awareness to your event by not over purchasing and keeping waste of resources to a minimum will contribute a lot. Just donâ€™t forget to enjoy your green event and your summer!
Iâ€™ve noticed a new trend in organic wines, but I donâ€™t know why they are better or where to get them. What do you suggest?
Most events arenâ€™t complete without wine, and today organic wines are ripe for the picking and easy to find. With grapes at the top of the list of most chemically â€œsprayedâ€ fruit (University of California reports over 2 million pounds of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and other chemicals used on
So what exactly makes wine organic? Basically the farmers that grow organic grapes today practice old fashioned principals for organic production; using materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems. Organic grapes are grown without artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemicals, encouraging the natural pest/predator balance, and according to the farmers, stimulates healthy plant growth and enhances the overall flavor and quality of the fruit.
Organic grape growing includes an approach developed in the 1920â€™s called biodynamic farming. This method encourages plant and animal diversity for the overall success of the product. Farms like Bonterra Vineyards in
The success over the last six years of industry leaders like Bonterra has paved the way for a crop of new organic options for the modern wine consumer. Unfortunately a lot of these wineries arenâ€™t promoting themselves as organic and biodynamic, mostly because of the hassle of becoming certified. Because the USDA does not allow the use of sulfides in a certified organic wine, some vintners are out of luck, but others like Coturri Winery who offer one of the purest organic wines on the market, donâ€™t want the USDA stamp â€œbecause they simply want to be known as a traditional fine wine.â€ (SF Gate, 2006)
So here is a short list to help you with your next party wine selection. For a more comprehensive list, go check out The Organic Wine List:
- Coturri Winery (
- Snoqualmie Vineyards, Naked line (
- Grgich Hills (
- Bonterra Vineyards (
- Frog’s Leap (
- Frey Vineyards (
- The Organic Wine Company – Key importer of Organic French Wines
- Organic Vintners – Importers of internationally produced Organic Wines
What gift registries do you recommend for helping charities?
Recently Iâ€™ve been looking into alternative gift registries and came across an organization and website called UniversalGiving. It is a social entrepreneurship non-profit whose mission is to make giving and volunteering a natural part of our everyday lives. Their web service connects donors and volunteers with worthwhile organizations all over the world working to protect the environment, children, animals, and much more.
If youâ€™re like me, you may have an aversion to giving over the internet because youâ€™re just not sure where that money is going. What I like about this service is their obvious transparency and wide variety of projects to pick from. Through UniversalGiving you can help reduce trash in Africa for $25, help send one million books to Sierra Leoneâ€™s children for $75, or contribute to the building of a rural school in India
As a green wedding consultant I help my clients look at alternative gift registries, which Iâ€™m happy to see UniversalGiving has! They offer gift registries and gift packages starting at $30, and the ability to send gift packages in someoneâ€™s name. You can adopt an orphaned chimpanzee in Cameroon, West Africa in the name of your best friend for just $15 a month. They would receive an 8×10 photograph of their chimpanzee, a full biography, periodic updates and a certificate of guardianship, and of course the satisfaction of making a real difference!
I think they do a really nice job making the cause projects transparent, easy to access, and the website simple to understand. It is tangible and realistic– making the whole giving experience feel great for you and your fiends. So when youâ€™re planning your next birthday party, wedding, bar mitzvah, or anniversary please consider making a difference by registering through UniversalGiving. Have your family and friends get involved in helping to make our planet a safer, cleaner, and more compassionate place for our future.