This week’s blog is written by Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator for Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.
On January 3, 2015 I married the man of my dreams! When planning for the wedding we had two goals: saving money and saving water. Much to my delight, those goals work hand in hand. Here are 12 of the things we did to save money and water on our special day.
1) We had our wedding and reception at the same venue. We chose the New Earth Music Hall which is also Certified Blue. By using just one venue we saved money on site fees and on transportation from one location to the other. Saving gas saves water so eliminating that extra travel saved water too.
2) We used one of Athens’ Certified Blue Restaurants for catering. Certified Blue restaurants and bars use less water by fixing leaks and using WaterSense labeled fixtures, and they promote efficient water use in Athens. There are about 25 restaurants to choose from ranging from pricey gourmet to inexpensive fast food. We chose Barberitos, a less expensive option and the guests loved it.
3) We served a vegetarian meal. It takes a lot of water to grow the grain to feed the animal that ultimately ends up on your guests’ plate. If you have 100 guests at your wedding and serve a vegetarian meal instead of a 4 oz steak per person you can save about 40,000 gallons of water. Barberitos’ tofu is fantastic and I am not sure the guests even noticed they were eating vegetarian.
4) We chose a water-efficient hotel. We stayed in a hotel that won the Leadership in Water Conservation Award presented by the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office and recommended the hotel to our guests. If you are planning a wedding out of town, stay at a hotel that has taken the WaterSense H2Otel Challenge. These hotels have gone above and beyond the norm to save water.
5) I wore a vintage gown.
The textile industry is the third largest consumer of water in the world – behind the paper and oil industries. Finding a nice vintage gown at a thrift or consignment store can go a long way to having a water-saving wedding. Obviously this saves a lot of money too.
6) We shamelessly borrowed as much as we could from friends and family. Everything has a water footprint from its manufacturing to its shipping. When you reuse items you are saving water, money, and other resources. We got very lucky in this regard. My friend’s daughter was married in December and she was gracious enough to lend me bows, centerpieces, and other lovely items that we used to decorate the New Earth. (Thank you Christy!)
7) We minimized the use of cut flowers. Flowers are very expensive and they require a lot of water, fertilizer, pesticides, and oil for transportation. If you really want flowers at your wedding use seasonal, local, and organic flowers and grasses in your arrangements. You can also do what we did and choose one focal point for the flowers. I held a beautiful bouquet put together by a local florist with flowers she had on hand.
8) We used recycled paper products. Paper products made from 100 percent recycled paper require much less water in their manufacturing than do those made from virgin paper. Buying or renting linen napkins is expensive and they must be washed. If you think your guests will think it is tacky to use paper products, put up a little sign explaining why you chose them. Be proud to conserve, reduce, and reuse!
9) We didn’t send paper invitations. A lot of paper is used in wedding planning: paper is used for save-the-dates, invitations, RSVP cards, seating programs, menu cards, seating cards, thank you cards, and more. Traditional paper-making is a water and energy-intensive process that uses harsh chemicals and produces a lot of waste. We saved money and water by using Evite. It worked for us, but may not work for everyone. I imagine most couples can find a middle ground that best suits their style and their guests’ needs.
10) We went digital with the photography. Digital photography offered a paperless and chemical-free way to capture our wedding. Also, getting a DVD of all the photos saves a lot of money because we can can print them ourselves.
11) We did not give our guests wedding favors. Favors for guests can cost hundreds of dollars and wedding favors are usually small trinkets that end up in the trash. If it ends up in the trash, it wastes money and all the resources that went into it.
12) Tell people about it! “Whatever you do to make your wedding environmentally responsible, make sure you tell people about it! Screening An Inconvenient Truth during the ceremony is probably over the top, but you can still take advantage of having your friends and family gathered in one place to do a little friendly education. Tell them about yourselves and about what is important to you. If you can create a wonderful, magical celebration that treads a little lighter on the planet, then people will remember it. Too many folks still believe environmentalism is all doom and gloom–this is the perfect opportunity to prove them wrong!” (I couldn’t say it better so I excerpted from a great article on how to have a green wedding.)