There are a few things you need to keep in mind, before you plan an eco-friendly wedding. No, it is not a mammoth task, just a list that has a start and an end. And when you finish, it leaves you with the satisfaction of saving the planet with that much waste.
Let’s go and visit our drawing board. Every wedding has
- The planning & inviting stage
- The on-ground activation stage
- The post-wedding goodbyes
Let’s delve deeper into these stages
- Planning & Inviting
Hurray! Marriage is such a big, and beautiful step that one takes with their special one. The planning and inviting stages are the toughest. One needs to rely on heavy duty planning experts, who can juggle multiple sub-events, and multitask like a boss. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind during the planning stage
- Venue: Where am I going to get married? Does the venue understand the meaning of an eco friendly wedding? Do they know what segregation of waste is? Do they allow outside catering?
- Invitation cards: You can design a beautiful e-card and distribute them with a personalised message via social-media, text, whatsapp or even email. If you think this is not enough, you can visit some esteemed guests with a sweet, or call them personally after you have sent them the e-vite. You can also include a small note of: no wrapped gifts and bouquets in the invite
- Catering: Be it outsourced or in-house, here are a few questions you must ask your caterer: Do they use steel/glass/banana plantain as cutlery? If no, are they open to accepting, cleaning and returning rented cutlery. There are several organisations that rent out cutlery. These organisations are usually non profit and charge nominal rates for their cutlery. Here are a few in Bangalore: https://bit.ly/2NnaQAv
- Cleaning crew: Cleaning crew must be trained to recognise wet v/s dry waste. The venue must provide at least 2 distinct bins to distinguish between the two.
- Decoration: This is probably the simplest and the most cost effective way you can organise an eco-friendly wedding. Leaf-art, seasonal & local flower, and cloth decor looks gorgeous without giving you the gaudy feeling of plastic shiny decor. Make sure your decorator is aware that they must not use: plastic, thermocol, paper in their decorations. Canopy can be bamboo+cloth with flowers twirled on the poles. Backdrop can be multi-coloured cloth pieces
- Giveaways: Although they vary from region to region, all giveaways in Indian weddings come with one thing common — A bag to put it all in. Make sure the bags are cloth bags (preferably made from used cloth rather than making fresh ones just for the wedding). If you have your grandmother’s old sarees — why not use those beautiful colours to make bags? Cloth bags are different from PP-Bags, which sometimes look the same. Here’s the distinction: https://bit.ly/2U0Zunf
- Misc: Some things that you can replace — Rented cloth napkins/napkins made from used cloth instead of tissues, steel tumblers and water stations at intervals instead of plastic bottles, steel/leaf straw or no straw instead of paper or plastic straw, several posters across the venue
2. On-ground activation
D-day has arrived. This is when all the planning comes to fruition. Appointing a couple of on ground volunteers will help smoothen the process. Best to keep volunteers at food and gifting stalls
- Catering: To avoid food waste altogether, you must train the caterer to get over their overwhelming urge to put heaps-full of food. Few checks for your volunteers — has the food been brought in steel vessels, are the ladles NOT covered with plastic, are all the cooking equipment, cups, spoons and bowls steel and not single use?
- Cleaning crew: The most crucial part of your eco-friendly wedding boils down to the cleaning crew. Your volunteers need to constantly make sure that all the food waste, plantain leaf goes to the wet waste category, all cloth napkins need to be in a separate bucket and all steel cutlery in another container. In the event that some guests have tissue papers or some disposables with them, a dry waste container should be kept, and labelled properly
- Giveaways: Make sure you have a small note inside your gifts-bags and that your volunteers at the gifting stall give the guests a trivia or two about the efforts put into organising the event. There are tonnes of eco friendly “gifts” you can give. Here are some ideas for simple gifts: https://bit.ly/30ivu8x
3. Post-wedding monitoring & goodbyes
Congratulate yourself and your team, it did not take much but weddings are a hectic affair! However, your entire effort to make your wedding sustainable might dissolve if you don’t see it through the end.
- Food Waste: Partnering with organisations that take and compost food-waste is always the best. You can also partner with agencies that donate left over food to the needy. Make it absolutely necessary that they arrive immediately after the event. Say, lunch gets over at 2:30, call them at 3! This is to avoid any mixing of food waste. Couple of things to keep in mind- How are these agencies going to take the food waste/leftover, what are they going to do with it, and who is going to take care of the logistics
- Food Leftovers: Food leftovers can be donated to people via several agencies that take good food and distribute it among the needy. Robinhood army is one such organisation, spread across 150 cities in India, they work towarding supplying surplus food from restaurants and the community to the less fortunate people.
- Decorations: Make sure the flowers and leaves are also sent along with the food for composting or can be sent to other industries like incense stick making, used for colouring etc.
- Cutlery & Cloth: Make sure all the cloth napkins and cutlery are washed, counted and kept aside. This need not happen immediately but best to be done immediately after lunch so that stock can be kept in check. Make sure you have a before and after count of the reusables. Also decide on when, how and who is going to return the cutlery back.
Goodbyes are tough. Especially people bidding you goodbye after your BIG day can get overwhelming. But goodbyes are also effective and they last longer. Make sure you spread the word as you bid everyone goodbye. Because what is the point of meticulously adhering to the rules of sustainability without spreading it far and wide?