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!
Head’s up on this amazing workshop with the founders of Cafe Gratitude, in Los Angeles May 1st & 2nd. We’ll be participating in the March 20th, 21st workshop in San Francisco, and I’m so excited!
The foundation of being in relationship is explored with the guidance of Cafe Gratitude founders, Mathew and Terces Engelhart. Personally, I’ve declared themÂ models in relationship and marriage for myself, and I can’t wait to deepen my understanding of the love that they embody and radiate!
Check out all their powerful workshops through out the year. But if you are getting married this year, and live in LA, I say this one in particular is a must!
Not just a trend anymore, the recent Forbes.com article on green weddings proves eco-nuptuals are here to stay. And, it’s not just couples that are making the shift to green weddings, the article points to a change in the midset of caterers as well as the onset of the ever popular eco-bridal registry.
“[Another trend is]… caterers’ use of local produce and a decrease in portion sizes–both in response to seeing so much food waste.”
Congratulations to green wedding planner Sarah Shewey ,of Pink Cloud Evens in LA, for a great interview. Green weddings are not just about the wedding, and Shewey knows how great it feels when lifestyles are changed as well.
“There’s an education process that affects the bride’s lifestyle after the wedding, which we get really excited about,” she says. “The wedding is a small reflection and projection of what our lifestyle is going to be, so being able to incorporate things like fashion and makeup and hair, something all of us girls do every day, is cool.”
It’s amazing to think that green weddings can have, and do have, a lasting effect on couples. One couple interviewed said “Before this, we didn’t do anything…it didn’t even cross our mind.” Now they are more concious and aware of their daily impacts. What a great feeling!!
“Yay” for fabulous green wedding planners, couples, and all the eco-vendors that help make this life ritual/passage possible AND responsible! Thanks to all!!
I understand that corporate events are often challenging when it comes to “ooo’ing” and “ahhh’ing” the guests (partly because they are used to attending events), but when I read the recent online newsletter for Special Events Magazine, I couldn’t resist posting my response to showcase why green events matter.
The highlighted event, the BASF Pack.it meeting, featured a building that was literally wrapped entirly in plastic wrap! The idea was to use “packaging” as a theme and to artistically express that throughout the event because the client, BASF, produces plastic for packaging. It’s a fun idea to want to wrap a building in plastic for sure…they even went as far as wrapping the surrounding trees as well (symbolism anyone?)…but I can’t help ask isn’t it a bit of a waste? — did anyone think about the wasted resources (plastic is made from precious, non-renewable oil) and where it would all go after the event?
Not only did they wrap 13,000 square feet of the building and the trees to showcase the “power of packaging,” but they also served a 10-course meal in individual wrapped dishes with their own “distinctive packaging.” (A green event no no!) Impressive as it must have been to be surrounded in packaging, I can’t stop myself from having a reaction here. WOW! It seems like the underlying message was “produce lots of plastic packaging.” Is that really what consumers want?
Packaging is a major player in the dilemmaâ€™s we’re now facing in keeping a sustainable planet, one that works with nature, not against it. Think about itâ€¦how often are you confident that your plastic packaging is getting recycled, or how often do you even know what plastic packaging is recyclable? I know I’m confused a lot, and I live in Ecotopia (Northern California).
Wal-Mart is even behind an initiative to reduce packaing. They are forcing all their suppliers to follow a Packaging Scorecard so as to reduce the amount of weight in trucking and emissions in the air. In fact, in 1991 Germany instituted the Green Dot System, specifically targeting reducing packaging waste by making it all recyclableâ€”well designed packages got a green dot. (It’s funny then that this event took place in Ludwigshafen, Germany, where BASF is headquartered.)
Though the article didn’t say explicitly what happened to all this packaging after the event, I’m left concerned. Special events are meant to be impressive and inspiring, but without conscious thought to the end-of-life of a lot of the products used in producing large scale special events, they can be extremely wasteful. This is why Iâ€™m dedicated to inspiring a â€œsustainableâ€ transformation within this industry, and why I believe green events need to happen!
Happy love day everyone! It’s been awhile since I last posted…oops. But I have a good excuse…I’m writing a book! “The Sierra Club Guide to Green Weddings” will be out later this year, and full of great green tips, green wedding planning advice, and amazing expert help from so many of my friends in the emerging green event space.
I’ll be posting periodically parts of the book to share with you, and hope to see you out on the book tour as well, where you can see me and hopefully experience some of the vendors I rave about. More on all this soon!
In other great news we’ve had some wonderful green weddings and super fabulous green events happening here at Vibrant, and there has been tremendous movement in the green events industry (YAY!). I’ll be posting those photos and coverage of the latest and greatest at Vibrant Events soon as well.
Yesterday this great article was published in Weddings Houston (thank you to the best green PR guy around, Michael Straus) featuring Meghan Meyers from Portovert, Gerald Prolman from Organic Bouquet, and I. The reporter, Natasha Garber, did a great job weaving all our perspectives together into a pretty fabulous feature on Green Weddings. I love how she’s captured the essence of this movement in the first paragraph:
“Your wedding celebration is an occasion for elegance, opulence, even decadence. With all that beauty and bounty, itâ€™s also a potential opportunity for excessive energy consumption and wastefulness. But what if there were a few simple, sensible ways for you to keep your wedding clean and â€œgreenâ€ without sacrificing one ounce of style or sumptuousness? In fact, there are countless ways to reduce the environmental impact of your wedding, from floral to favors to footprintâ€”carbon footprint, that is.”
After writing a book for six months, I’ve come to admire greatly the craft of writing well!
For now, I hope you all are enjoying the bounty of love and beauty that surrounds you! Happy, happy love day!
Be back soon!
This month TIME Magazine features 51 Things We Can Do in response to global warming. Along with switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, turning fuel into food, and capturing CO2 with clean coal plant solutions, I was surprised to see that the greening of weddings made the list!
#28. Have a green wedding
By Catherine Sharick
I donâ€™t know if you saw what I did, but Valentineâ€™s week brought a slew of green wedding articles, tips, blogs and magazine coverage. Most notably was the NY Times report on â€œHow Green Was My Wedding?â€œ which seems to have stirred the pot, making the conversation of green weddings HOT, HOT, HOT!
Until recently the concept of green weddings has been covered by the organic and more sustainable media circles but has not been a conversation inside the bridal magazines and other mainstream media. Iâ€™ve been following this now for about six years and my favorite coverage until now was the Organic Style magazine March 2005 issue that covered Alicia Silverstoneâ€™s green wedding for its vegetarian menu, recycled wine barrel and bamboo bar, and the stunning location in
â€œSo why now, all of a sudden?â€ I keep asking myself. My assessment is that along with this new green wave hitting societyâ€“ie: the success of movies like An Inconvenient Truth, celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio bringing attention to going green, and even the Economist is reporting of The Greening of America etc.– society seems to be embracing environmentally and socially responsible activities everywhereâ€¦including now the most memorable event of our lifetimes, the wedding! There are the cynics out there that think greening an event like a wedding isnâ€™t going to do much for saving the planet, especially because weddings are often about grotesque abundance and carry that â€œmore is betterâ€ attitude. But I disagreeâ€¦obviously, being a green wedding planner myself, I would!
We may just think of a wedding event as something that happens quickly, and doesnâ€™t really add up to much, but it actually is much, much more than we realize. Weddings are a huge industry, generating $139 billon a year spent on rings, venues, engagement parties, the ceremony and reception, gowns, rentals, the honeymoon, etc. If we trace the lifecycle of the most popular products and services that go into an event of this magnitude, we will see some of the worst environmental degradation caused: the earth scares left from mining for the gold that goes into the wedding ring; the damage caused by over 200 pesticides and fungicides sprayed on the roses that go into the bouquets (which 40% of those are typically banned in the US); and the horrific social injustices experienced by diamond miners and flower growers in Africa and South America. This is why choosing recycled gold rings, local and organic flowers, and conflict-free diamonds is better for the planet and for future generations to come.
These are just a few of the products Iâ€™m using as an example of how deep you can take the greening of your event, it can of course go much farther. There are many shades of green and it is up to the couple to choose how deep they want to go– organic cake, organic, flowers, recycled rings, and much much more! I thought the NY Times article was a truly great overview of how couples are making choices that integrate their environmental and social values into this landmark event and doing it in simple, meaningful ways that donâ€™t break the budget. Examples included were of brides handcrafting ceramic gifts for guests, purchasing carbon offsets by donating to tree planting operations, and having their event at a local farm to support local, organic agriculture. These are wonderful, values driven gestures that all couples can integrate here and there into their event, bringing added value and spirit, and making it a memorable experience for all. I hope youâ€™ll help promote a pretty and purposeful wedding the next time you are involved in a wedding yourself!