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Something borrowed, something green

Weddings can literally cost the earth as well as your pocket. Tamanna Kalhar advises on saying ‘I do’ with ethically sound conviction

July 1, 2006
6 min read

Feelgood gift list

If you have been living with your partner before marriage, chances are a new toaster won’t float your love boat. To ease their gult at the altar couples are increasingly rejecting the materialistic ‘me, me, me’ concept of a traditional gift list and opting for charity lists instead.

Wedding List

Giving operates a scheme so couples can use their wedding day to give money to non-profit organisations and charities. War on Want offers alternative gifts to help some of the poorest people on earth. You can buy something from as little as £5 for a bag of potato seeds for a displaced family in Colombia or £75 for one week’s planning workshop for impoverished South African women farmers. More fulfilling than a toaster, at any rate.

  • www.weddinglistgiving.com
  • www.waronwant.org
  • www.goodgifts.org
  • www.olivecoop.com

    ‘With this conflict-free ring, I thee wed’

    A diamond is forever … forever fuelling conflict in parts of Africa. In Angola and Sierra Leone, ‘blood diamonds’ fund rebel groups to arm militias that kill, rape and mutilate thousands of people. Purchasing a conflict-free diamond guarantees a stone that has not funded war or been mined using child labour.

    Shockingly, very few high street jewellers can offer such a guarantee. The Diamond Jeweller is one of the few shops that does.

    Gold and diamond mining also damages the land and endangers ecosystems, so go online for recycled and fair trade trinkets. GreenKarat offers jewellery made from recycled precious metals. Alternatively, browse for unique, vintage rings in antique stores.

  • www.thediamondjeweller.co.uk
  • www.greenkarat.com
  • www.onesky.ca/diamonds/

    Sow the seeds of love

    A popular trend for wedding favours involves wildflower and tree seed kits. Tree2mydoor offer a free consultation service for eco-friendly favour ideas. They also supply real flower-petal confetti to cut down the amount of waste paper. Biodegradable confetti is also readily available in shops.

    You can create your own wedding invitations from recycled paper. Or go online and send out e–invites instead. A creative alternative to place cards is pebbles or even leaves.

    Pot plants can make a more interesting centrepiece than cut flowers. Or consider dried or silk flowers, which can look as good as the real thing and won’t wilt! If you must have flowers, locally produced and seasonal fair trade ones are a greener option as many cheap non-fair trade flowers are imported from aboard. If you’re having an evening reception, dine by candlelight to save on electricity.

  • www.tree2mydoor.com
  • www.markingoccasions.co.uk

    Conscious catering

    To reduce waste and food miles, use local, seasonal and organic produce for the wedding banquet. Food can carve a huge chunk out of the wedding budget, so it’s definitely worth asking a friend or relative to make the wedding cake. Failing that ask your local baker and request organic ingredients.

    The Natural Store offers a bespoke 100 per cent organic chocolate wedding cake, as well as a complete range of ethical wedding services.

    Give your guests edible favours like herbal sachets or chocolate: alotofchocolate.co.uk has a large selection of luxury organic, fair trade and vegan chocolate.

    Fair trade and organic beverages are now widely available. Order organic booze and soft drinks from Vintage Roots or Vinceremos.

  • www.thenaturalstore.co.uk
  • www.alotofchocolate.co.uk
  • www.vintageroots.co.uk
  • www.vinceremos.co.uk

    The dress

    Glide down the aisle in a wedding dress made from natural, eco-friendly fibres such as organic cotton, fair trade silk or hemp. Vintage attire is another fashionable option, some designers are creating dresses from recycled fabrics, including vintage silk.

    Check out retro boutiques, or maybe you can wear your mother’s wedding dress? Hunt down once-worn outfits on places like Ebay and specialist second hand dress sites. If you do buy a new dress, sell it on so that it can be worn again. Another option is to hire – ideal for bride, groom, page boy and usher outfits. Beyond Skin has a classic collection of shoes produced in a manner that is non-exploitative to animals, humans and, wherever possible, the environment.

  • www.enamore.co.uk
  • www.houseofcouture.co.uk
  • www.thedressmarket.net
  • www.beyondskin.co.uk

    Getting there the eco-friendly way

    A horse and carriage is a grand alternative to a gas guzzling stretch limo. Find a venue close to home to cut down on transport and encourage guests to share car journeys, or provide a coach service. You can even include public transport details in your invites, to encourage guests to consider leaving the car at home – and enjoy an extra tipple.

    Spreading the joy on honeymoon

    Explore romantic destinations close to home, including the UK. Seek out online travel agents such as responsibletravel.com, who provide authentic holidays that also benefit the environment and local people. Tourism Concern offers ethical and fairly traded tourism.

    Or consider a working honeymoon and contribute to an environmental project, or an overseas charity. The core of Explore’s new ‘interact tours’ incorporate an extended stay with a community, where you live, work and share with the local people.

  • www.responsibletravel.com
  • www.tourismconcern.org.uk
  • www.explore.co.uk
  • Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
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