Would you do anything for your grandchildren, and do you care about the world they will inherit?
Protect the planet which will provide your grandchildren with a long and healthy life.
Make your vote count.
If you live in a democratic country with open elections, the way you vote could determine the planet your grandchildren inherit.
If you are offered a genuine choice between candidates, vote according to which candidate will protect the planet. Many conservative parties claim they are better at managing the economy, but supporting old industries such as fossil fuels is bad economic policy. Renewable energy is the future, and countries which fail to embrace this will be left behind financially.
Remember, your grandchildren cannot vote until they are at least 18, so you are making a decision about the future of the planet on their behalf.
Where is your super?
Superannuation funds are all the same aren’t they? Not quite. Some funds invest in the fossil fuel industry, others don’t. More and more superannuation providers are divesting from fossil fuels and from other unsustainable business, and are offering what is known commonly as ‘ethical super’.
Do some research and find out if your current super fund invests in environmentally destructive businesses. If it does, find another super fund which does not. Destructive businesses cannot operate without financial support from companies such as super funds.
What about my savings?
You worked hard to earn and save your money, and it should work for you in retirement. Ethical super funds offer strong returns, which is why many people are switching.
Speaking of energy, what powers your home; solar, fossil fuels?
Could you install solar panels? Yes, they’re expensive, but they save money in the long run and they are a much cleaner form of energy. With efficient battery storage, they also work when the sun doesn’t shine. Even if you can’t install solar panels where you live, you can normally choose greener options through your energy provider.
What about water tanks?
If you have space in the garden, install a water tank to catch rain water for use in the garden and inside the house.
Grow your own food.
The water from the water tank can nourish your plants, and reduce your water bill.
Grow a few tomatoes and herbs, or create a large organic garden with enough fruit and vegetables for an entire meal. It’s fresh, it’s healthy and it’s free.
Locally grown food also protects the planet and the health of your grandchildren. It protects the soil and the entire ecosystem which is used to grow food. If the environment is damaged, growing food becomes more difficult. As a consequence, basic food stuffs will become more expensive.
How much do you want your grandkids to pay for food in the future?
A cup of tea, toast and the morning paper. An age-old tradition, and one that’s easier to enjoy in retirement. The media you consume, including newspaper, radio, television and internet content, determines the way you think about the world.
Most tabloid and conservative newspapers report negatively on environmental issues, and many blatantly deny climate change because this bias appeals to their audience.
If you live in countries such as Australia, The UK and The USA, it’s hard to avoid NewsCorp media, owned by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch has been described as a cancer on democracy due to the content of his media networks, which run blatant propaganda.
Do you let Rupert Murdoch tell you what to think?
Incidentally, most tabloid newspapers are written at a literacy level of a 9th-grade student. It’s a long time since you were in the 9th grade. Furthermore, a study by the The University of London’s Institute of Education found that people who read tabloid newspapers have smaller vocabularies than people who do not read newspapers
I want your presence, not your presents.
It’s a great Dad joke, but it’s also a worthy sentiment. Spending time with your grandkids is better than any random toy, and there are other ways to spoil the little ones in a sustainable way.
Consider buying ethical gifts for the next special celebration. Give the children an endangered animal to adopt through a wildlife organisation. Give them a tree or plant for the garden which grows as they grow. Make something for the kids, or even make it with them, instead of buying a random gift from a shop.
Spend money on experiences for your grandchildren. Pay for a healthy, fun holiday activity which gets the kids outdoors and active. The more time they spend in nature, the more likely they are to protect it.
How long before this gift ends up in landfill?
If you buy your children a plastic toy based on the latest fad, you can be sure that toy will be discarded as soon as the next fad arrives.
Kids have too much these days.
Very true. So don’t add to this clutter by buying disposable presents. Instead, choose a more sustainable gift.
Travel is one of the great advantages of retirement. Even if you’re still working, it’s a great way to get away from work and enjoy life. If you fly, offset your flight when you buy the ticket. Most airlines offer carbon offsets. Think also about the method of transport you use to reach your holiday destination, and find ways to make all of your holidays more environmentally sustainable.
A healthy, clean planet, with fresh air and clean water, with lush forests and abundant wildlife is better for your health as well. The longer you stay healthy, the longer you can enjoy quality time with your grandkids.
I DO love you, I DO care about you, and I DO care about the planet. For that reason, I want my wedding to be as environmentally sustainable as possible.
Why should I make my special day as sustainable as possible?
It’s all about sharing the love. Embrace the love for your partner and those around you, and share that love with the planet. Plus, your marriage will likely create a family, and it is vital to leave a healthy, liveable planet for your children.
How do I make my wedding as sustainable as possible?
The materials which comprise a wedding or engagement ring include precious metals, gemstone and diamonds which are often mined destructively and on such a large scale that it inspired the movie Blood Diamond with Leonardo DiCaprio – and his failed attempt at a South African accent.
Thankfully, ethical wedding jewellers can be found online. They source recycled or conflict-free diamonds and materials, or even lab grown diamonds. Lab grown diamonds are increasing in popularity as they are equal to mined diamonds and have a much smaller environmental and social impact, as well as being less expensive. You’re not only saving the planet, you’re also saving the world from another Hollywood actor butchering a ‘foreign’ accent.
Indoor or outdoor
To narrow down the choice of venue, decide whether you and your better half want to wed indoors or outdoors.
Outdoor venues tend to be more sustainable as they require less lighting and air conditioning. Locations such as vineyards, botanical gardens, lakes, refurbished farm properties and eco-lodges are beautiful locations with stunning backdrops. In the right season, they can be simply blissful. Modern outdoor venues also provide modern conveniences, so you can celebrate in comfort.
What about a barefoot wedding on the beach?
Indoor venues can also be green. Choose a venue which catches natural light, and book the right venue in the right season. Search for reception venues which recycle and use energy efficient appliances, solar and biodegradable products.
Hold the ceremony and the reception at the same place, or next door. If you plan to marry in a religious ceremony, host the reception nearby, and if you plan to exchange vows in a civil ceremony, organise both events at the same place.
Transport and Accommodation
Holding the reception and ceremony at the same place can reduce emissions. You could also arrange accommodation at the same place. Destinations such as vineyards are not only spectacular places to tie the knot, but often provide a location for the ceremony plus the reception and accommodation, all at the one site.
Of course, vineyards are expensive and while you may be prepared to bear the cost, some of your guests may not. How about DIY? Host the celebration in a more humble location and do the decoration yourself. Don’t underestimate the power of your imagination and ingenuity.
Ask your guests to car pool. This not only saves on emissions, but allows friends, workmates, relatives and former classmates to mingle on the way to the reception, so that by the time they arrive, everyone is ready to party.
You can also recommend accommodation providers near the venue which have proven environmental credentials.
Many families and guests fly to weddings, and air travel is the most environmentally destructive form of transport. If you must fly, encourage your guests to offset their carbon emissions. For a few extra dollars, the airline will contribute to a project which benefits the planet, such as tree planting, and neutralise the emissions of the flight.
Eating local reduces the carbon footprint of a meal. Look for caterers who source their food from local suppliers. Also ask caterers whether the food waste will be composted after the wedding. You can also plan a menu which uses ingredients that are in season. What’s more, the Farm-to-Table movement has made fresh, locally-sourced ingredients more commonplace, and many of them are organic, which is even more sustainable.
What about the cake?
It is a centrepiece of the reception. How was it made? Can you find a cake made with locally-sourced eggs and diary products?
Why not replace conventional table décor with herb plants in terra cotta pots? Guests can then add basil or cilantro straight to their meals.
Avoid plastic plates and utensils
Disposable plastic plates and utensils are easy, especially if you’re planning a casual, low-budget DIY wedding. They are harmful though. Plastic cutlery and dishes end up in landfill. Instead, use compostable or reusable dishware. Try to avoid plastic straws, as the next time you see them could be in the belly of a turtle.
If you’re hiring a catering company, ask if they can avoid using plastic, disposable items. You could go even further by giving each guest their own glass or cup for the reception, which cuts down on washing and the use of water and detergent. You could also customise the receptacle and they can take it home with them.
Put on a keg
Skip the individual cans and bottles at the bar and serve drinks in a keg, and favour bottles of wine over cute rose cans. This will help to reduce packaging and waste.
Traditional Bridal registries were created for a certain time. A time when newlyweds would move into the marital home and thus required new household items. These days, many couples are already living together and have accumulated homewares. This means you can be more creative with your registry.
Request non-tangible gifts.
Register for items such as gift cards or vouchers for experiences, or ask your guests to contribute to the cost of the honeymoon flights, transport, accommodation or restaurants, as these require less harmful packaging.
Fortunately, almost every item you might like to list on your register has an eco-friendly alternative. Search for the origin and materials of the items, and consider alternatives such as organic bedding, cloth shopping bags, reusable bamboo plates and natural kitchen and bath products.
Do away with tradition, and encourage guests to donate to a charity as their gift to you, and send this money to an environmental organisation.
Flowers are synonymous with weddings, but what happens to them after they’ve decorated the venue?
Various online organisations arrange for flowers to be donated to places such as health care facilities. Encourage guests to take flowers home if possible, or arrange for the flowers to be composted. Plants can be more easily composted if they are sustainably sourced in the first place, so do some research before ordering the flowers.
For decorative flowers which do not end up in landfill, also consider potted plants and succulents. Plants in pots can serve as favours as well as décor. These types of plants will last longer and can provide a reminder of the special day for years to come.
When considering invitations, you have a number of choices:
– Eco-conscious stationery
Many brands are now producing beautiful paper products with minimal impact on the environment.
– Plantable paper
This is paper made without harm to trees. It is made with post-consumer materials, and it is embedded with seeds. When planted, the paper composts and the seeds grow.
– Electronic invitations
Embrace the electronic age and send out digital invitations which require no paper. Let’s face it, most guests will text you their confirmation and will use their GPS to find the venue anyway, so go paperless.
It’s all about the dress, and why not. It’s your day, and you want to shine. So how do you protect the planet while choosing your wedding dress?
Research sustainable wedding attire designers (for the bride and the groom – or both brides and grooms). Maybe ask your maid of honour or groomsman to help do some of the leg work in finding an outfit sourced and created ethically. Many eco-friendly options exist, using materials such as organic cotton, silk, hemp or even pineapple leaves.
Secondhand or pre-loved dresses are more sustainable. Secondhand conjures up images of poor-quality items sold at charity stores, but this is not the case with wedding dresses. Remember, a wedding dress has only been worn once (hopefully) and most are kept in great condition. Online stores and organisations sell pre-loved dresses, often much cheaper than a new dress, and some donate part of the profits to charities. A friend claims she filled half her wardrobe with clothes from charity stores in wealthy suburbs – it’s amazing what rich people throw away.
Vintage dresses can also be found online, so you can celebrate with a unique look.
Of course, you could always wear your mum’s dress, and this is a popular tradition. Get out the bobby pins and the sewing machine if you have to, and watch your mum beam with immense pride as you walk down the aisle.
Also be sure to check vintage clothing shops and consignment boutiques. Try renting the gown, or fit out the entire wedding party in their own clothes. With a bit of planning (over a glass of wine) you can all put together a great ensemble for the day.
Don’t forget to encourage the groom to get on board with an eco-friendly outfit as well.
Some more handy hints
Reuse décor elements throughout the day, as this will save the planet and save money. For example, a ceremony backdrop can become a photo booth backdrop and bouquets can become décor for food stations, the bar or the cake table. The décor can also come home with you. Place locally-grown flowers in glass bottles and use them to decorate your home.
Get rid of balloons, floating lanterns and sparklers. They look pretty, but balloons are very harmful for the land as they are not biodegradable, and they can be consumed by animals.
Sparklers end up in landfill, and while floating lanterns look beautiful, they can be a fire hazard at the wedding itself and as they float away, they could spark a bush fire.
A grand exit.
How will you leave the ceremony? In style of course.
Remember that sparklers, glow sticks and confetti are harmful to the environment, so consider biodegradable confetti or an alternative element for your grand departure.
You’d love to thank all of your friends and relatives who made your day special. Do so without the footprint. Offer favours such as small plants or seed packets, which can start a small garden. Give them consumable favours, such as coffee beans, chocolate, jams or preserves in reusable jars, or send the guests home with some of the flowers from the wedding day.
Bride or groom?
Are you the bride or the groom? How many people who read this article will be men? In heterosexual relationships, it is a long-standing tradition that women take on more of the planning of a wedding. It is important to involve the groom in creating a sustainable wedding because he makes up one half of the equation, and because his friends and family also need to enter into the spirit of the wedding to make sure it is a special day for both of you.
You know that relative you don’t like? The one you’re obliged to invite because they’re a blood relative. You could prevent them from coming. A cheeky friend of mine hosted an outdoor and largely sustainable wedding but cheekily exaggerated some of the eco-friendly elements of the wedding weekend on the invite, hoping that it would deter certain people from attending. It worked. The unpleasant relative was invited so awkward family conflict was averted, and the ‘conservative’ relative declined the invitation.
It’s a lot of work…
Planning an environmentally sustainable wedding may seem like a lot of work – but planning any wedding is a major undertaking. Do your planning and preparation well in advance, involve your bridal party and groomsmen in the organisation of the wedding, then enjoy a wonderful day devoted to a celebration of love.
“Ben,” began a benevolent voice from a man whose genteel reflection Ben could make out in his impossibly shiny shoes.
But Ben could not bear to look up.
He breathed again, failing to calm his nerves. His mind flashed back to a nature documentary about the annual migration of the monarch butterflies to Mexico, which Ben was certain had just begun in his stomach.
He fixed his gaze upon his shoes, satisfied with the military-grade sheen he had affected after the third spit polish.
Still the voice beckoned, and would soon demand an answer. It was this demand for an answer which had set off the migration.
“What do I say?” he anguished.
The research had been done. The data collected and collated. Responses analysed – all useless. Nerves, panic, sweat, pure human fear now engulfed him. The research had failed to yield any actionable data. Requests for advice from friends, relatives, colleagues, psychologists…Google – ineffectual.
“Marriage,” professed his single Uncle, a part-time Satirist and famous eccentric,
“It’s a wonderful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with immense caution.”
A friend had offered more sensible advice.
“If you truly love her, you have to act on that.”
So, Ben acted. He proposed, surprisingly. She accepted, unsurprisingly, and, suddenly, wedding invitations arrived in mail boxes.
“He’s never done anything quite like this before,” responded the guests, accustomed to the notoriously reserved, calculated mind of the Risk Analyst and Airforce reservist, whose best man had loaded his speech with anecdotes of uncanny meticulousness and aversion to risk, and the amazing contrast to his spontaneous and effervescent fiancée, with big brown eyes, flowing dark hair and a well-publicised fear of flying.
Daniella brings him to life…he had written.
“Maybe she’s pregnant,” pondered wistfully the wedding guests who loved a good scandal. They spent the service squinting at Daniella’s dress for signs of a bump, or a cover up. Daniella had certainly been left with little time to diet for the big day.
“Yes, yes I love her,” Ben muttered internally, steeling himself for what he had to do. Yes, he loved spending time with her, loved her dimple, her deep blue eyes, her quiet intelligence and soft demeanour. He admired her flying record at the academy, something he hoped to emulate one day.
“It is love!”
The affirmation drew his gaze from his shoes and, with another deep breath, he met the eyes of the priest.
“Ben, do you take Daniella to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
Ben met her gaze, and surrendered into the deep blue eyes of the bridesmaid, the wisp of blonde hair framing her delicate cheekbones. He was transfixed, and before he could avert his gaze, Daniella saw the unbridled longing in his eyes.