Wednesday, June 30, 2010
On a "Green" Wedding
For some reason, our wedding has been labeled 'green' by everyone. Everyone, that is, except us. We aren't trying to be 'green' or 'sustainable' or have an 'eco-friendly' anything. We are trying to apply our normal morals to our wedding, though, and that does include being environmentally conscious.
Plus, I have some serious issues with the words "green" or anything that's called "eco-this" or that is billed as sustainable. I could write frickin novel on my issues with these words and what they have come to mean. First, its super trendy and cool to be green. But a lot of times that doesn't mean actually trying to be environmentally conscious. A lot of times it means buying into new things. Ex: Nalgenes and Sigg water bottles are green in the sense that you don't use water bottles. But how many have you bought, lost, ruined by leaving tea in them over the weekend and not being able to get the nastastic smell out or tried to test the myth that nalgenes are indestructible and had to get a new one? In other words, if you buy enough reusable bottles the 'green' value of them is eventually lost.
Second, a lot of things labeled as green, or eco or sustainable are not. Its just another selling point with too little regulation on who can use those words and how they can be used.* And often too little thought into what sustainability means. Fun story: A boycott was created to boycott any and all products coming from the rainforest. The group was trying to save the rainforest. But by removing the opportunity for people to have income from the rainforest, their alternative was the slash/burn and then farm the land. Not thought through very well.
Third, we need a new way of thinking about the 'environment' and our relationship to it. We are part of the environment. We are not some evil force that needs to be separated and removed from the environment to save it. These key words all link to a separation of humans from the environment - which is false. Being 'eco-friendly' is being 'human-friendly'. The lesson of this is that us changing the environment does not have to mean bad things. The current model of environmentalism is all about reducing our impact. In this model, the goal is zero impact. But that is not going to happen. We have always changed and will always change the environment because we exist. and thats ok. We just have to change it in a different direction.**
That's my rant on environmentalism.***
As far as weddings and specifically our wedding being labeled green, I try to avoid it as much as possible. We are doing what we can and what we have thought of to be conscious of our decisions and their environmental impact. Have we succeeded? I don't know. We could definitely have done more. Actually, not having a wedding at all is way more sustainable than having a wedding. But thats not realistic and I DO NOT think being sustainable has to mean giving up everything.
Sustainability is hard. Its not cheap. And can take a lot of effort and thought. But that is because right now, the current unsustainable system is backed by heavy federal dollars, lots of lobbying, and lots of crazy American culture. Our personal choices make a difference, but large scale change needs to occur for us to truly change the direction that we are going.
In the meantime, we are each finding where our line is. What effort, what cost are we willing or able to give to be a better citizen of the environment? How much change are we willing or able go through to change the way we interact with the environment? Because we don't know where the line between sustainable and unsustainable is. We are all feeling it out our own lines on our own terms.
*Side rant: why should the responsible parties be forced to add the adjective. I think those causing the problems should be given the burden of adjectives. So then you'd see labels such as "Industrial Beef!" "Pure toxic cleaner!" and the 'organic' options can just become the norm. No adjective needed.
**Want an awesome, perspective changing read? Check out this book.
***Who was an Environment and Natural Resource major? Me!
Image via mclcbooks and since this is a wedding blog I put a green flower that we will have at our wedding on my post about being green. so clever...