Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The award of the century

My last journalism class was held today at the Auld Dubliner where my awesome professor bought us all beer and "the design team" gave everyone made-up awards. Well, I got an awesome award which I would like to share with all:

God bless the University of Arizona journalism department.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Save a little paper: use the internet

My time at the University of Arizona is almost over: just eight more days of classes, a few term papers and two very threatening exams still loom.

But as of today, my assignment to blog about green weddings is over. That doesn’t mean I’m through writing though!

With a bit of sadness, I’ve chosen not to pursue a career in the field journalism so after May 7, when classes end, there will be a significant and noticeable lack of journalistic practices in my life. Married to Green will be a great way to keep me writing, although you can definitely expect shorter entries!

Plus, it looks like there are a few people, including my boyfriend’s mom, who have been reading this blog for fun and might want me to keep writing. I was really excited to see that random people were reading my blog and commenting. Of course, the two random commenters were plugging services, but that’s ok: they both have created great Web sites that help wedding-planning couples save paper and so they both contribute to the green wedding theme.

So, let me share with you a few ways you can cut out a little paper and money from the invitation process.

My Invitation Link is a site (described as “completely green” by random commenter no. 1) that designs totally personal invitations that can be accessed online by your guests. Now there’s no excuse for ignoring my wedding Web site and blog ideas because this is a very easy way of inviting your guests sans paper. All you do is pick a provided template, upload pictures and add text and music and voila: the site creates a personalized slideshow that tells the love story of you and your fiancĂ©. The templates are really cute and elegant and the site is always adding new ones.

You might not have liked the idea of having your own wedding Web site or blog, but My Invitation Link provides something that’s almost better and more telling than an invitation. You can have the invitation online for up to a year, with prices ranging from $39 for three months to $75.

There is one problem though: it’s most likely that our grandmas know absolutely nothing about the internet. Inevitably, there will be at least one invited guest who doesn’t use the internet. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the online invitation idea. You can always send out a few paper invitations but use the online service to invited most of your guests. Or, just use a system like My Invitation Link to announce the wedding in the place of sending out a save-the-date card, then you can call the few guests who don’t use the internet.

Also, I don’t think you can have inserts in the invitation, like a map for your guests. That’s where random commenter no. 2’s product comes in. Wedding Mapper helps create an interactive Google map of your wedding venue, church, nearby hotels… whatever you want your guests to know about the area. You can add photos, comments and descriptions to any of the locations. Once you’re done, share the map with all of your guests for them to print out and use. Simple, fun, non-wasteful and free!

Thank you commenters for sharing your paper-saving ways!

I could even imagine using Wedding Mapper as an invitation. My boyfriend and I have tons of memories around Tucson: what about telling our “love story” using an interactive map with pictures and stories about where we fell in love?

I’m learning more and more that a green wedding is about using your creativity to find fun ways around using tons of resources.

I'll see you soon!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Could you give up presents?

If you and your eco-aware significant other are a young couple just starting out in the world, you both are probably extremely excited about the day of opening your wedding presents. You’ll finally have one set of dishes and not 42 mismatched plates found at yard sales that sort of look the same. But if you’re both a little older with some money and clout (and your dishes already match) think about whether you really need all those presents you’re registering for. If you decide you can forego the gifts, just know that there’s a slew of charities out there that your wedding can help generate money for.

Having your guests get you gifts ups the eco footprint of your wedding and adds carbon and waste to the Earth. They’ll usually have to drive out of the way to purchase the gift, so there will be more carbon emissions. The gift will most likely be wrapped and you’ll end up throwing that away. Plus, there will be extra paper, cardboard, Styrofoam and plastic used in the packaging of the gift. Wedding gifts can end up generating a lot of waste. So, if you don’t really need a product, consider this alternative: ask your guests to make donations to an ecological charity in lieu of gifts.

Some charities have made this a very easy gift to give. The World Wildlife Fund has its own weddng Web site to help guests make contributions in your name.

You can also register with JustGive so that your guests can just log into the site, click on a link to donate to your chosen charity (pick an ecological one if you’re green wedding status needs a boost) and then leave you a message including how much they donated. JustGive also lets guests give to any of the 850,000 charities in your name, not just the ones you’ve chosen.

Here’s another idea to cut out gifts: Instead of giving out wedding favors, you can make a small donation in the name of each guest. The Knot reports that lots of couples have been trading little bags of chocolate labeled with their names and wedding dates for tiny pieces of paper reporting a charitable donation. Your wedding is a great excuse to give back to charitable organizations, and giving back is a perfect gift for you Earth-loving couples.

Greenpeace and the National Arbor Day Foundation are two other green charities that could use your wedding’s help to raise money. It’s easy for guests to donate to both charities in your name online. The National Arbor Day Foundation, which replants trees in national forests, also offers a way to swap regular wedding favors for brand new trees in your guests’ names. Each dollar plants one tree, so this can be an eco-friendly and wallet-friendly favor idea.

Planting trees instead of giving favors is a great way to cut down on consumption and waste, plus, it helps offset your carbon emissions. Figure out your wedding’s carbon footprint at’s wedding calculator and find out how many new trees would be needed to neutralize these carbon emissions. Planting trees, instead of buying carbon offsets, is probably a more Earth-friendly way to offset carbon footprints.

Other charitable agencies with not-so-green ideas are also cashing in on the wedding gift trend. I’ll only include this one because it’s important to me and my dad, a 3-time cancer survivor: You can help fund world-class cancer research by having your guests give to UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Presents are a fun part of the wedding experience, but if you don’t really need them, and you want to save some carbon emissions and waste, opt for donations instead.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Go get a gocco

Don't underestimate the gocco. I know it looks like a child's toy (one that's ready to break any second) but it’s actually a sophisticated printing device that brides-to-be are swooning over. In fact, the topic of gocco-ing your invitations, etc., has been tearing up the forums at The Wedding Bee for over a year now.

One look at these forums proves the gocco's abilities (just check out the picture of a gocco-created invite to the left): with a little creativity and know-how, you can create a professional, artistic and totally individual wedding invitation, perfect for your style, theme and personality.

And, here’s the best (green) part: you make your own design and you print it with more eco-friendly ink on more eco-friendly paper.

Having a gocco gives you the freedom to use eco-friendly alternatives in your invitations, envelopes, placecards, save-the-date cards, menus and programs. I have scoured the market for recycled paper invitations and I am sad to say that they just aren’t as visually appealing as regular non-green invites. That’s just due to the smaller size of the market. And using cotton paper is more expensive, especially if you’re not willing to really shop around. Plus, one of my fellow CatScan-ers recently pointed out that cotton is a dirty industry because of it's polluting farming practices and unfair labor and trade policies. So, a green bride has to find organic and sustainably made cotton for her invites. And that's hard.

But, organic cotton paper is out there. And so is recycled paper. All you'll need is a gocco to print your perfect design.

My wedding-planning friend Laura Dean, who's dreaming about buying her own gocco, is excited about showing off her and her fiance's originality. Plus, the little device will save these youngsters some much-needed money. The gocco is sold by Paper Source for $148. A set of print screens cost about $16 (you need one print screen for each different set of images) and tubes of ink cost $4. Laura said the gocco would save her about $1,500 on her paper goods but she estimates the average savings would probably be about $1,000.

Remember also that wedding invitations contribute to pollution through their use of slightly toxic ink. Making invitations with the gocco uses a very small amount of ink and creates a very small amount of waste, as well.

I’m going to let explain the gocco details:

“In the 1970s Noboru Hayama, a printer and the Japanese inventor of the ‘print gocco’ system, wished to develop a quick and easy household color printing system. Cleverly combining the basic principles of screen-printing and rubber-stamping, ‘print gocco’ is a clean, easy, and fully self-contained compact system that exposes and prints all in one unit. Using flash bulbs similar to those found in old cameras, an original image is thermally imprinted on a master screen. Next, colorful prints are made by pressing the ink-applied master screen against a sheet of paper placed on a sponge pad.”

There are tons of tutorial videos on YouTube that will help you use your eco-friendly craft skills and create gocco-ed invites.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Be a do-it-yourself-er

Do-it-yourself avor ideas from Green Elegance Weddings

Green weddings are becoming synonymous with low consumption and low waste. One great way to cut down on both is to do some of the things for your wedding by yourself. My advice this week is to do it yourself!

Brides on a budget have taken this advice to heart for years. But it's a green practice, too: doing it yourself is a way to skip throwing away packaging, save receipts and eliminate the carbon emissions from driving all over town to pick something up or have it delivered to you. Plus, DIYs are wonderful ways to get your family and friends involved in your wedding. Here are several practices you can do all by yourself to help save money and resources.

First, going with a seasonal theme is one great tip from DIY Bride. Sticking to a seasonal theme will help you find local vendors more easily and reduce the carbon emissions from trucking or flying supplies in. For instance, you can buy in-season flowers from your local florist and support your town's economy instead of buying daisies in the winter from a grower in the opposite hemisphere.

Confetti is a main staple at many celebratory events like weddings. But paper confetti makes a huge mess (especially if you live in a rainy locale) and uses up paper and trees. Confetti Direct, based in England, sells dried flower petals that make great confetti because they're all-natural and biodegradable. But do you really need dried flowers all the way from England? Why not just pluck a good bit of wildflowers and dry them yourself? This could even be made into a fun event with friends and family. Or consider planting flowers in your own garden specifically for this purpose.

If you really have a green thumb, and you live in an appropriate climate, you could grow all of the flowers for your wedding. Green brides do this all the time. You would need to start way in advance, of course, but this practice could eliminate a substantial amount of waste and cost. It's a local and healthier technique for the environment because there are less pesticides and chemicals being used. Plus it could cost a lot less money.

Take your blossoming ideas a step further to the realm of wedding favors. I've told you about having a “green favor” and offering your guests potted plants that they could take home and enjoy for months and years to come. You can make those yourself by buying inexpensive pots and soil in-bulk and planting seeds in advance. Get creative and paint your names and wedding date on the pots. This would work best for a smaller wedding, but there are self-watering planters (which you can even make yourself) out there that could save the twice-per-week waterings you'll have to keep up on. I somehow managed to let my self-watered rose plant die, so clearly this would not be a practice I would take part in. But, if you have some gardening experience, or the will to learn, you could definitely grow your own favors.

If your gardening gloves are too dusty for my above suggestions (I don't even have gardening gloves...) Green Elegance Weddings has a whole bunch of DIY favor ideas which mostly involve putting a store-bought chocolate or cookie into original packaging you create. Remember that you or your family members can always make the cookies or chocolates yourself, as well. Store-bought or shipped items will come with packaging, which you'll end up just tearing off and throwing away.

Everyone with a computer can stick to this next DIY tip: e-vite your guests. I know a bit of HTML and am smart on the Internet, but that doesn't mean I can make a Web site. If you can, that's great: go for it! An easier, user-friendly way is just to start a blog through Blogger or WordPress. Also, The Knot hooks their wedding-planning members up to Google Page Creator. You can do this on your own by just signing into with an e-mail address and password-- you don't even have to have a Google account.

Jessika Higganbotham's invitation Web site. Made with Google Page Creator.

These main tips will make it easy for you to think of even more DIY ideas: stick to a seasonal theme to facilitate easy access to local resources, think about cutting down on waste when you're buying, and look for the most natural ingredients and resources you can find.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A green car to match your green wedding

Transportation to and from your wedding is a large part of the event’s carbon footprint. Guests are driving or flying into town, driving from their hotels or homes to the ceremony, and sometimes even driving from the ceremony to the reception if the two events are being held at different venues.

For a wedding of 100 people, where about 35 guests are flying in and about 65 are driving, estimates that about 40,000 lbs of CO2 would be emitted by transportation means.

What if you could cut that in half? Using biodiesel, an alternative fuel source made from vegetable oil, is one way to help reduce CO2 emissions.

The good news is that there are lots of car services that offer eco-friendly alternatives to gas guzzling limos or rental cars. Carolina Biodiesel and Clean Air Limo are two examples of this service. EcoLimo has services all over California. Bio-Beetle rents affordable and eco-friendly Volkswagen Beetles which are powered by 100 percent biodiesel fuel in Maui. Choose a green alternative, like a biodiesel car, over a 10-miles-to-the-gallon limo for your eco-friendly wedding.

Megan Hartman, the owner of Fourth Dimension Fuels, brings biodiesel to areas north of Tucson. She explained that biodiesel is thinner than regular gasoline and combusts more fully in diesel engines. This causes there to be less “junk” emitted, as more of the fuel is used as energy.
According to Hartman and, there are tons of benefits to using biodiesel.

Running 100 percent biodiesel eliminates:
48 percent of carbon monoxide emissions
47 percent of other particulate matter
67 percent of unburned hydrocarbons emissions

There are other benefits too.
Less emissions causes less of an effect on the ozone layer and better air quality
It takes less energy to produce and refine biodiesel
The fuel can be locally grown

Biodiesel is only available for diesel engines but there are other eco-friendly choices for transportation to and from your wedding. Encourage your guests to carpool to your wedding and rent hybrid or alternative fuel cars while they’re in town. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car all have an optional carbon offset program that helps fund offset projects that remove CO2 from the environment.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Your wedding has big feet

-Set up invitation Web site? check.
-Limit the number of guests flying or driving into town? check.
-Make sure your wedding favors weren’t made with child slavery? check.
-Truck in special organic champagne? Let’s think about that one.

Even though organic champagne and sparkling wine is made without synthetic fungicides, herbicides or fertilizers, locally purchasing the bubbly stuff might actually be better for the environment. That’s because buying locally means you’re not trucking or flying in a product from who-knows-where. One of your main goals in planning a green wedding should be to keep the event's carbon footprint low, and reducing the number of miles travelled is a great way to do so.

But, if you’re near a good organic vineyard, you should definitely serve organic wine and/or sparkling wine at your reception. Diamond Organics is located in Moss Landing, Calif., about 100 miles south of San Francisco, so if you’re nearby, you could consider purchasing from them. My research has revealed that these organic items aren’t actually much more expensive than non-organic. road-tested several different champagnes and sparkling wines.

The same deal goes for food. Many cities have wide selections of organic foods and you can just ask your caterer to use organic products or use an organic caterer. But, if you live in a small city, don’t truck in organic food just because it’s organic without comparing the environmental impacts of miles travelled vs. using inorganic food.

Wedding planner Candace Flores pointed out to me that having a green wedding is about trade-offs. You can spend less on organic food (and use regular inorganic products) if it means you’ll be able to rent out a venue that recycles. Think about the amount of cardboard, aluminum and glass that your wedding will produce and if it’s a lot, choose the recycling venue. But, if you’re doing a lot to minimize waste and having a smaller event, go with the organic food.

Of course, there are other ways to minimize your wedding’s carbon footprint besides serving organic food and recycling, like having a smaller wedding or using recycled paper. Some brides are buying carbon offsets from sites like and Atmosfair to have a big wedding but still contribute to the environment. Before buying these offsets, which work by helping stop companies from polluting, check out this article by the New York Times about what you should know before buying.