Friday, February 18, 2011

Is it possible to be Green without going broke?

When I printed my last CD, I spent over $3000 to have 2000 copies manufactured on 100% recycled (the tray case was made out of old plastic bottles) paper and plastic. It cost almost twice as much as jewel boxes would have, and that was without even having an insert page. It was a dumb business move, but I just really couldn't bear to put any more nasty plastic jewel cases into the world. In the past few years -- yes, it's been almost three years since my last record, ouch! -- the recycled packaging has gone down in price, but it's still more expensive. This angers me much.

I promise not to blog about the wedding too much over here (FWT and I both are doing that at LouisvilleKY.com), but I'm having similar anguish over trying to host a Green event. I posted this on the wedding site yesterday, but I think people are shy to comment and I'd like to start a conversation on this.

One big piece of advice we’ve gotten from friends and magazines like, is that we need to make a list of our priorities. Other than being surrounded by family and friends and having a live band (duh), a major factor for us is being as Green as possible. Sure, we could just buy carbon offsets, but it’s important to us that we not be wasteful, either in food supply or oil miles.

Some things are less expensive when made more Green – buying a used wedding gown, for example, rather than spending cash on an imported dress that’ll only ever be worn once, or growing your own flowers. Sadly, we’ve found that the majority of things are much more costly. Printing invitations and programs on seed paper is expensive, and even buying vintage postcards to use as Save-the-Dates (reuse!) is proving more pricey than just ordering something brand new from a printer. (I’m holding out hope that a nice vintage lot of old Kentucky postcards will appear on eBay soon.)

Still other Green options aren’t even easy to find. The one caterer we’ve met with so far seemed confused when I asked about serving locally grown food or non-processed goodness. Our wedding is in July, so it didn’t seem out of the question for me to ask about locally-grown tomatoes (it’ll be the height of tomato season, after all, and who wants a caprese salad with cardboard tomatoes?), but the caterer said all she could do was “ask.” Surely we aren’t the only bride and groom to have ever inquired about using local produce, so why is it so hard to make that happen at a reasonable price? And when asked if we could get a discount on a menu if we chose not to serve the meat that was included in the price, again, “Probably not, but I guess I could ask.”

I’m learning that in order to have the wedding we want to have, we are going to have to make a lot of difficult choices. I’m not just talking about slashing the invite list in half (a whole other blog, ugh), but about when to splurge and when to save. It’s funny, but when you start talking about saving time, I couldn’t care less. Tying ribbons around programs for hours or whittling my own centerpieces doesn’t phase me. But when it comes to saving dollars and cents, I’m much more stingy. I’d rather save money than time, I suppose.

Maybe I should just start planning my vegetable garden better and just grow all of our wedding food in my front yard.

Suggestions on how to have a Green wedding or vendors that understand what we're talking about … I’d love to talk to some caterers who care about oil miles and health.

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