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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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
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Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
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Beware the automated landlord
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Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
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Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
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West Papua’s silent genocide
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Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
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Imagining a future free of oppression
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Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
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A musical fightback against school arts cuts
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Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
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Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
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