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From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 23, Dated 11 June 2011
CULTURE & SOCIETY  
COVER STORY

Make love, not carbon

With a bit of forethought, the big, fat Indian wedding can be replaced by a greener cousin, says Sahithya Jagannathan

love

DIY kit for a green wedding

Invites
Recycled paper and dried leaves for an exotic invite, or take the tech route and make your wedding a Facebook event and invite your guests online.

Decor
An open venue minimises decoration. Use organically grown flowers, leaves and earthen material to jazz it up. Make sure to recycle after the wedding.

Lighting
Use solar lamps or diyas to light up the venue to save on energy bills and add a magical touch. Bio-diesel generators can be used as well.

Food
Serve organic food on banana leaves or plates made of betel nut leaves. These can be composted after use.

Gifts
What better way to contribute to the environment than asking your guests to donate to conservationist organisations as a gift!

Wedding Photography
Get a digital album. You can send across free copies to all your relatives. Share your pictures online.

IN ADDITION to the millions of exasperating details we were subjected to when Kate Middleton and Prince William tied the knot, a relevant and mildly shocking bit of news floated into our orbits. The total projected carbon emission at the wedding was expected to be 6,765 tonnes — 12 times the amount emitted by the Buckingham Palace in a whole year. This, in spite of Prince Charles’ insistence that the guests plant trees and donate to Earthwatch (a charity that protects the environment). Even the documents for the wedding were printed only on recycled paper. For additional perspective, according to a carbon footprint calculator, an Indian upper-class wedding with 500 guests, 50 one-way flights and 25 cars over five days would emit up to 27 tonnes of CO2 — nearly as much as an average Australian’s carbon footprint in one entire year.

In the past few years, Indians have been considering giving up over-the-top nuptials for greener options. But despite the love for all things ecofriendly, the Indian wedding industry is still booming, at nearly Rs 2.25 lakh crore per annum.

Rosemary Ratnam, a Bengaluru-based wedding planner, admits that she has only planned one green wedding in a decade. “Green weddings are environment-friendly and cost-effective. Even before inflation, it cost us Rs 2 lakh- Rs 3 lakh to organise. But sadly they are not in demand.”

Last year, a couple in Bundelkhand had a wedding that would put most urban green weddings to shame. They wore organic cotton, used solar lamps instead of gaudy chandeliers and the bride gave tulsi saplings as dowry. Through the ceremony, women sang songs on environment. Once the pledge was taken, the guests presented plants to one another.

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This year, a wedding organised by environment activist Subhas Datta for his son promises to break new ground. From invitations made of hand-painted recycled paper to specially-designed solar hurricane lamps, he’s pulled out all the stops. “The energy consumption has reduced by 80 percent. A lot of thought has gone into every detail to make it green,” he says. Datta has used terracotta and leaf fronds to decorate the venue. The wedding banquet will consist of organic vegetables and fruits, washed with potassium permanganate to remove any traces of pesticides. The food will be served using terracotta cutlery and betel leaf plates. Think it couldn’t get any greener? A special meal made with lesser spices will ensure that street dogs don’t fall sick.

However, unlike Ratnam, Datta estimates that his eco-friendly indulgence will cost him Rs 8 lakh, about Rs 1.5 lakh more than what he would have spent had he gone for a regular wedding. He attributes this to the higher costs of recycled paper, solar lamps and organic food in the country. In spite of this, Datta declares that he will gladly hand over Rs 5,000 to the mayor of Kolkata for recycling any additional waste that cannot be disposed of from his son’s wedding. One hopes that like Datta and his family, more Indians will realise that weddings are really greener on the ecological side.

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The Big Green Rupee. Making it. Spending it
making
Green Business
The Carbon Bazaar
Green Energy
Green Fashion
Solar Energy
Lost in transmission
spending
Green Housing
Green Holidays
Green Weddings
Green Cars
Green Phones
Green Plan B
debating
The Economist: Pavan Sukhdev
The Minister: Jairam Ramesh
The Voter: Green Politics
The Activist: Ritwick Dutta

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From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 23, Dated 11 June 2011
 

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