Sound practices such as “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” are difficult to put into action at the weddings, since they are often considered as highly consumptive events. Faced with a big question “How to make my own wedding eco-friendly”, Anusha and I were willing to take the extra mile in reducing the negative foot-prints of a big fat Indian wedding on Mother Earth.
Our Choice of Spend
I am from Chennai, while my girl Anusha is from Bangalore. Our families have selected the temple-town Srirangam in Tamil Nadu to host the marriage and start on an auspicious note. Only the close circle of family and friends were invited to keep the events simple and yet profound. The reason behind the simplicity is that we wished to donate a substantial amount towards the Go-Shala at Mantralaya in Andhra Pradesh. This Go-shala named “Kamadhenu Goshala” is a sanctuary for old, sick, abandoned and stray cows and its progeny, of which about 20% only are milkable.
The Selection of Venue
The venues for Marriage and Reception have been carefully chosen by us to ensure that a larger cause is being served by renting the space.
The venue for the Marriage was Sri Raghavendra Sabha Mandira in Srirangam. All the revenues generated from renting this marriage hall goes towards the Mutt’s charitable trust. There is a bigger purpose achieved and a larger cause served through the charity.
Likewise, the venue for Reception in Chennai was Hotel Annalakshmi that directs its revenues towards sustenance of artistic and charitable activities of the “Temple of Fine Arts”.
Several million trees are toppled each year to make paper products. Now, we tried our hands on multiple mediums of sending invitations that can save the trees. The most common and quickest being the digital invitations over Whatsapp. Our e-invite message also carried a call to save our planet by saying no to one-time use plastics, go paperless and grow more trees. This was well appreciated by the tech-savy group of recipients.
To make things more interesting, the invite text was printed on handkerchiefs with temporary ink that will disappear in a couple of washes. These handkerchiefs served as personal invitations and they were handed over to many guests. This brought in the concept of re-usability for the given invitation as supposed to temporary a paper invite. Finally, a few invites were printed on paper to send via courier.
The Reception Decor
Eco-friendly weddings cannot be complete without the touch of greenery in their decor. We discussed our ideas with Ms. Veena from Spaceterior (in Chennai) to design an apt ambience for the event. At the Reception, a photo booth was beautifully setup that had a display of several indoor air purifier plants. The names and details of those plants were mentioned alongside in order to create general awareness about their benefits. Most guests took photos and made a note of these plants to adopt them for their homes.
With a philosophy to hurt none, the guests were served with pure Vegetarian food that is easy to digest and yummy for the tummy. We ensured that the left-overs at the wedding & reception were distributed to the poor people in the neighborhood. Food abuse is among the most common act against mother nature. We had pasted posters at the marriage dining halls explaining the lifecycle of rice. The serving staff at the Reception in Hotel Annalakshmi ensured there is minimal wastage by active recommendations. This has indeed created a sense of responsibility to not waste the food in their plates.
Like in any large gathering, mineral water was served in 500ml disposable plastic bottles at the Reception. Better waste management and disposal mechanisms are the need of the hour. The first step is setting up bins and clearly labeling them for waste segregation. We had worked out a solution to collect all the plastic bottles and send them to the plastic re-cycling plant.
As all the guests are travelling to the marriage venue (Srirangam) from their respective cities, they may not be able to pack a pot of soil for home. So, we considered biodegradable seed balls that are very apt as return gifts for this rainy season. The guests were only requested to carefully place these seed balls along the roadside and be the cause for a likely tree to grow soon. This seed balls left the guests with contentment and deep satisfaction.
The reception was held in Chennai from where I hail from. So, we arranged for indoor air-purifier plants to be given as gifts for all the guests who attended the event. These plants are approved by NASA as they have the ability to cleanse the air and act as anti-pollutants. These plants can reduce volatile organic compounds such as benzene, toulene and xylene. They also reduce airborne microbes and increase humidity.
Finally, we had also requested our guests to avoid giving them any gifts at the events. Instead, the guests were encouraged to make donations to their favorite non-profit organizations that do good for human life on earth.