A truly green matrimony could be achieved by simply eliminating, but where’s the fun in that? Incorporated seamlessly into any wedding theme, sustainability is not only a trendy concept but a necessary one. According to Green Bride Guide, each of the 2.5 million U.S. weddings that take place annually produces, on average, 500 pounds of waste and 62 tons of carbon dioxide, all while supporting a billion-dollar industry. It is time to get our priorities straight—and look beyond the big day to the big picture. Ditch single-use and single-serve; there are plenty simple, cost-effective, earth-friendly choices you can make without sacrificing style or sentiment.
While an exotic destination wedding holds obvious appeal, investing in your community by staying local and employing area artisans for goods and services triggers a ripple effect while also retaining the city’s one-of-a-kind character and reducing environmental impact.
For Betsy Pandora, who was married in November 2014, looking local for an urban-rustic wedding was a no-brainer. As the executive director of the Short North Alliance, an organization that works to cultivate an easily accessible, culturally rich arts community in Columbus, Pandora had the answer to almost every wedding inquiry right under her nose.
“We take our values very seriously,” explains Pandora, citing as inspiration her and husband Ryan Pilewski’s occupations (he works for Franklin Soil and Water Conservation). “We wanted to work with vendors that felt very personal and would support the community.”
The 16 city blocks of the Short North Arts District allowed such variety that Pandora was able to source 90 percent of her wedding—from the wood invitations made by Synergy Media to the reception held at the historic Garden Theater—from within the neighborhood.
As for catering, Pandora choose Freedom a la Cart, a Columbus-based business working to empower survivors of human trafficking by providing dignified work, safety and support through developmental services. The program’s inclusive, community-based treatment assists women every step of the way; after rescue and rehabilitation, economic self-sufficiency is the goal. Beyond the philanthropic business strategy, Freedom a la Cart’s kitchen prepares what they have dubbed “cause cuisine,” plating up creative hors d’oeuvres like roasted beet, pistachio and goat cheese crostinis and fried corn fritters topped with crème fraiche, all made with local ingredients. It’s lighter fare that is anything but a “compassion buy.”
Couples concerned with the environmental impact of their big day have options for reducing waste without encroaching on the special-occasion vibe. Setting recycling bins alongside trash cans at the cocktail hour or dinner is an easy way to combat waste. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates Americans generate more than 250 million tons of waste each year and, while much of this can and is recycled or composted, waste still poses environmental problems. Items we use for mere moments—disposable grocery bags, single-use straws, product packaging—last for thousands of years.
Serving kegs of local brews instead of bottles or cans of beer that have traveled hundreds of miles eliminates waste, stimulates the local economy and shows that sophisticated palates can still party. Columbus’ Wolf’s Ridge Brewing sells their craft brews—like the hoppy, fruity, Howling Moon Imperial IPA or the “all-day drinker” Gold Standard Munich Helles Lager—kegged for this exact reason. Seventh Son Brewing Company also offers retail kegs of their staples like Stone Fort Oat Brown Ale, Humulus Nimbus Super Pale Ale and American Strong Ale, as well as the occasional seasonal brew in two sizes.
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