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26
Sep
by Corina

In 2009 we partnered up with Bloomberg TV to produce a small segment on Green Weddings. It was a two day shoot around the SF Bay Area full of amazing green wedding vendors curated by me!

The story will feature the wedding of Vivek and Christine who were so wonderfully gracious to let the camera’s in on thier unique, organic and locally inspired green wedding. Their special day was filled will the couples passion for supporting organic and sustainable products and service. Unique table arrangements of fruit and vegetables were the centerpiece of this wedding. You’ll see designer and florist Desiree De Lara in action as she places these beauties on each table.

The second part of the shoot was a trip around San Francisco visiting some of my favorite vendors in the green-wedding space. Eco-bling was featured by Brilliant Earth (of course) in spectacular settings and loose diamonds co-founder Eric Grossberg was knowledgeable and forthcoming about the new and growing niche of conscious jewelry. You’ll learn a lot about what to look for when making this very important purchase!

I made sure we paid a visit to one of the most authentic and truly high-end sustainable caterers I know, LRE catering. Co-owner Kim Stevens shares with us that the companies sustainable choices are really “just part of their personal values” from the onset of business! LRE is committed to supporting local, organic,  agriculture and slow food, and does so in the most pleasing ways– through exquisite tasting and presented meals.

My dear friend Nicole Sillapere, founder of the famous Sillapere eco-event design firm in San Francisco, not only shares why she’s committed to going green in her business and the events she produces, but shows us some of her favorite eco-design tips! We called it her “Martha Moment” and she shines with helpful ways in reducing, reusing, and sourcing sustainable design for your wedding or special event.

And what’s a green wedding without carbon offsets? I took the Bloomberg team over to visit Jason Smith of LiveNeutral and ClimateCheck. Jason and I graduated from Presidio School of Management together and have had the pleasure of being able to continue to support each other through our mutal businesses. Jason rocked the interview, explaining carbon trading and offsets in the simplest and most meaningful way I’ve heard yet! You’ll begin to see why this simple step in greening your wedding is my #1 Green Wedding MUST!

Our last stop was a conversation with incredibly talented fashion designer Lily Achatz, who is starting a new line of eco-inspired wedding gowns in SF. Being sold at top eco-fashion store EcoCitizen, her green wedding gowns feature repurposed vintage dresses with additions of hemp silk and charmeuse. Lily was incredibly sweet to bring one of her newest gowns for the TV shoot, working around the clock to get it ready for us to see. Lily is a true artist, and you’ll be WOW’ed at the possibilities she brings to your green wedding gown choices!

It was an honor to be able to share these fabulous vendors with the Bloomberg viewing audience and to have them tell their unique and special stories as small green business owners. Talented, smart, and inspired, these friends of mine are the reason I love what I do. Together with the help of each green bride and groom interested in a green wedding that supports their values and beliefs; we are making a real difference and transforming this industry one (aisle) step at a time!

Thanks so much to Vivek and Christine, thier family and friends, Desiree, Eric, Kim, Nicole, Jason, Lily, Joslin of EcoCitizen, and mostly to the Bloomberg News producer Elizabeth Gould and her kick-butt crew who busted through six interview in one day. We’re so happy to be recognized for our work here in San Francisco and to inspire more Great Green Weddings around the country!

26
Aug
by Corina

You’ve done a great job including eco-friendly options into most all aspects of your wedding, from the location to the flowers, from the gown to the gift registry. But now you’re left wondering “How do I green my wedding cake?”

Never fear, many options abound for a sustainable, organic, locally sourced (and not to mention healthy) wedding cake. Seek out a baker in your area that is used to working with natural ingredients like unbleached flour and unrefined sugar. Also ask where they source their products from, as most European bakers import their materials from Europe adding to the carbon footprint of your wedding. Finally, be sure the chocolate and vanilla are not just added flavorings, but sourced naturally from Fair Trade organizations.

Choosing the right cake for your wedding can be a fun experience, so take your time, go to the cake tastings (YUM), and get to know your options so you can make the right choice that meets your style expectations as well as your personal values. Everyone has their own motivations as to why a processed, refined cake just doesn’t cut it for their green wedding!

10
Jun
by Corina

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.

10
Jun
by Corina

Are you shopping for that eco-fabulous gown you’ve always dreamed about? You’re not alone…and thankfully the designers are catching on! The ever-so-savvy eco-bride these days seeks a gown that’s truly a perfect fit — not only physically, but one that reflects her sense of style, and most importantly, her personal values. A bride’s gown makes the ultimate personal statement, and thanks to the incredible array of dress styles, fabrics, and creative resources available now, there’s no reason to sacrifice style for going green at your wedding.

So, what does your wedding gown choice (and any clothing choice, for that matter!) have to do with the planet? A lot. From the growing or making of the fiber, to the toxic chemicals used in bleaching and dying of the fabric, to the discarding of products after their useful life has ended, textiles leave a significant environmental footprint. For example, Environmental Health Perspectives claims that cotton accounts for a quarter of the pesticides used in the USA. According to MoreThanWaste.com, in 2006 the UK textile industry produced 2 million tons of waste, 3.1 million tons of CO2, and 70 million tons of waste water. We are all hopefully aware by now of sweat shop labor, which still poses an issue in our clothing choices. Read more about the environmental and social impacts of the garment industryon their site!

Thankfully, a range of new (and “old”) options offer you the chance to reduce the environmental and social impact of your wedding dress, through reuse, reconstruction, or new eco-effective designs.

For a new, yet perfectly eco-fabulous option, Natural Bridals offers stunning gowns made from hemp and silk. We love the Alyssa, a full Princess gown with beautiful layering to create a sexy, unique look. Designer Morgan Boszilkov is committed to offering designer label green gowns, while contributing 5% of her profits to organizations that support that environment.

If you’ve always dreamed of that Vera Wang gown for your wedding, don’t fret- you can still be an eco-savvy bride. Scope out Bellancora and PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com for “worn once” designer gowns at affordable prices. If you do decide to purchase a new gown, be sure to go socially responsible…try Bridal Garden, a not-for-profit bridal boutique who donates to the education of New York City children. Dresses are donated to them by top designers, stores, or individuals and prices are up to 75% off original retail. After you’ve enjoyed your gown, sell it again, and give your dress more chances to shine in its life cycle.

For an eco-couture approach, Annatarian works with brides to develop their custom dress, using vintage and organic fabrics to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art. With an obvious passion for the planet, designer Anna Mkhitarian utilizes “eco-effective” design, which is based on giving back to the environment, and creating no waste in the production. Check out more of her reconstructed bridal designs online.

If you need some assistance, Vibrant Events has customized green wedding packages you can choose from now. Contact us for a conversation about how we can help you create a celebration that truly reflects your values and your style!

18
Mar
by Corina

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 dilemma’s we’re now facing in keeping a sustainable planet, one that works with nature, not against it. Think about it…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 recyclable, 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 I’m dedicated to inspiring a sustainable transformation within this industry, and why I believe green events need to happen!

 

3
Jul
by Corina

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 it’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 (VOC’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 VOC’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 BBQ’s are a better way to go as well.

  • Eat organic, and when you can’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 – 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 don’t make you sick, or harm your body like Orange Guard, or Battle.


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 don’t forget to enjoy your green event and your summer!

22
Jun
by Corina

A recent post from the No Impact Man, Collin Beavan, on turning his lights out for the summer as part of his living experiment to lead a no impact life in NYC, got me thinking about candles. Collin and his family have sworn off practices that contribute to global warming, which for them means no electricity all summer. In its absence, the family is using candles…but not regular paraffin wax candles which are made from petroleum oil; the family is using beeswax candles to maintain their no impact footprint.

The candle has long been a symbol of peacefulness, intimacy, and relaxation, but most people aren’t aware of its origins or its toxic emissions while being burned. Paraffin is the final byproduct in the petroleum refining chain, and like most petroleum based products; paraffin candles are hazardous to our health when burned. One air quality researcher has associated soot from the candle as being the same as that given off by burning diesel fuel! Candle soot tested by the EPA found fumes to include toluene, benzene, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), and naphthalene–substances also in paint, lacquer and varnish removers and known carcinogens in humans. Not a pollution-free ambiance your creating when you also learn that the wicks may contain lead.

And what about those pretty aromatherapy candles? Ever wonder why the sides get so sooty after awhile? Well, most of the scents are derived from petroleum as well, causing the wax to soften and leading to even more nasty burning soot from the pretty candle.

I know it’s hard to do, but pass those cheap IKEA candles next time and walk right on by the aromatherapy jars at Bed Bath and Beyond. When it’s time to stock up on candles in your home choose a healthier option. Like Collin and his family, I buy beeswax candles for their beautiful natural smell, their ability to support local farmers, and their negative ions which help to clean dust and allergens from the air. Non-animal based options are soy candles, blends of soy and palm oil, and if you really need that scent try an essential-oil diffuser.

Remember petroleum is not a renewable resource, and in our efforts to have a sustainable future it’s important to look at all the products we purchase and the industries we support in doing so. These healthy and green products are cleaner burning, longer lasting than conventional paraffin candles, and support a renewable future. Give them a try!

26
Apr
by Corina

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

You won’t be able to stop global warming on your wedding day, but your choices can lessen the carbon footprint of your event. For example, if your guests are traveling long distances, offset the carbon emissions from their trips with a donation to renewable—energy projects. The sustainable wedding website Portovert.com, in partnership with NativeEnergy, a renewable energy company, offers a wedding carbon calculator where couples can enter the number of guests and approximate miles traveled, to calculate the carbon impact of their wedding—related travel.

Wherever you celebrate, you can reduce your CO2 impact and often save money by giving your wedding a local touch. Buy wine from a nearby vineyard or beer from a neighborhood brewery. Get your wedding cake from a local bakery, and use seasonal flowers, not imports. “Why eat food or drink wine or beer that has traveled thousands of miles when you can choose local options that are just as good?” says Meghan Meyers, CEO of portovert.com.

The wedding industry is a $139 billion a year in the US, spent on rings, venues, engagement parties, the ceremony and reception, gowns, rentals, the honeymoon, etc. These events, though seemingly short in time, are full of environmental impact. Using local and organic caterers, sourcing organic wine, and offsetting your carbon emissions from nonprofit organizations like DriveNeutral can make your event a responsible celebration which supports our environment for generations to come.

Consider going green your wedding gift to the planet!

29
Mar
by Corina

I’ve noticed a new trend in organic wines, but I don’t know why they are better or where to get them. What do you suggest?

Most events aren’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 sprayed fruit (University of California reports over 2 million pounds of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and other chemicals used on Napa County grapes) it’s a good idea to treat you and your guests to something healthier.

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 1920’s called biodynamic farming. This method encourages plant and animal diversity for the overall success of the product. Farms like Bonterra Vineyards in California take time to cultivate their animal diversity as much as the plants. They build birdhouses to attract diversity and to ward off harmful insects. They also leave native oak trees in place and plant cypress and helpful plants like lavender on the landscape. Organic farming embraces the natural checks and balances in nature that allows for full expression of the earth, giving rise to vines that truly thrive!

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 aren’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, don’t want the USDA stamp “because they simply want to be known as a traditional fine wine.(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:

 

27
Mar
by Corina

I don’t know if you saw what I did, but Valentine’s week brought a slew of green wedding articles, tips, blogs and magazine coverage. Most notably was the NY Times report on How Green Was My Wedding? 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. I’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 Silverstone’s green wedding for its vegetarian menu, recycled wine barrel and bamboo bar, and the stunning location in Lake Tahoe California.

So why now, all of a sudden? I keep asking myself. My assessment is that along with this new green wave hitting society 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 everywhere…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 isn’t going to do much for saving the planet, especially because weddings are often about grotesque abundance and carry that “more is better attitude. But I disagree obviously, being a green wedding planner myself, I would!

We may just think of a wedding event as something that happens quickly, and doesn’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 I’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 don’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 you’ll help promote a pretty and purposeful wedding the next time you are involved in a wedding yourself!

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