Having been born in the 1970's and growing up in the 1980's, I often feel that I have witnessed, in my life, two different worlds. One was a world unaware or uninformed about the fragility of our environment and the other is hypersensitive to it and in a mode of action and passion to preserve our world.
Perhaps it is because I now have a child and I wonder what the world will be like when she's my age, but I often think about the world in which I grew up. The world before "environmentalism" was a household word. When we put the garbage out on the sidewalk, it was only one can (unless you had a lot of trash!), and it was any old can at that! I remember going to McDonald's and receiving my hamburger in a styrofoam clamshell. I left the water on while I brushed my teeth, and, let the shower run until it got hot enough to warm not only me, but the floor of the tub before jumping in! Lightbulbs were all incandescent. At the gas station, you had to tell the clerk if you wanted "regular" or "unleaded". Yes, there was LEADED gasoline for purchase!
These days, we are assigned cans for our trash, recycling, and composting, and sorting has become second nature, even if we still get confused sometimes. Styrofoam clamshells are long gone, and leaving the water running is a SIN. And, when you are running out to the store to buy your COMPACT FLORESCENT lightbulbs, you stop at the gas station to purchase unleaded gas only, or maybe you don't even need gas because you just unplugged your car from its electrical outlet in the garage!
The point of all this is habits. We used to do things a certain way, and now, to save the environment, we need to do things differently. All aspects of life are affected, including weddings. Where we once would use lavish amounts of disposable resources, we are now re-thinking throwing a large event with a little more consideration for the environment.
Wedding welcome gifts are no exception. Instead of being wasteful and giving your guests paper bags, plastic water bottles, and disposable tissues, here are five ideas to be more conservative:
1. THE CONTAINER
There are so many beautiful ways to present a thank you to your guests without worrying about it winding up in a landfill. Break away from the paper bags and boxes that will just get tossed away.
We LOVE these fabric giftwrapping bags from www.livingethos.com. Living Ethos has a wide variety of fabric patterns and bag sizes to fit your welcome gift's needs! How adorable would it be to choose a fabric to match your wedding theme, toss some goodies inside, attach a note and leave for your guests to find upon their arrival? The best part? They are fabric and can easily be folded up in a suitcase to take home and reuse! Prices start at $28.00 for a set of 4 bags in various sizes, but contact them to discuss your needs!
You can even do your guest favors in their mini bags!
|photo: Love Bottle|
Water bottles have long been a staple of the Welcome Gift. And why shouldn't they? Traveling can have a dehydrating effect, and dancing 'till dawn with the bride and groom can leave you THIRSTY! However, plastic water bottles are as wasteful as they are convenient. Which is to say, they are VERY wasteful. So, let's start to think of better ways to wet your guest's whistles.
These days there are many refillable bottles out there, but we came across these bottles from LOVE BOTTLE and we were smitten. Love Bottles are "reusable glass water bottles made partially from recycled glass. They have a ceramic swing top that creates a water-tight seal"
Love Bottles come in two sizes, 500mL and 1000mL, and you can choose between standard designs or custom designs. Quantity discounts are available, so create a unique design for your event and give as favors too!
For more information, check out their website! www.lovebottle.net
3. DRYING THOSE TEARS
Weddings can make even the most manly of manly men shed a few tears! So, tissues have become a very convenient addition to welcome gifts. However, when you think about it, disposable tissues aren't the most eco-friendly way to keep your guest's eyes dry. Consider instead including a fabric handkerchief in your welcome gifts. Choose a color or pattern that fits the theme of your event. You can either have them made, like these pictured (click here to see these hankies from the Etsy shop FabricCreationsFran) or, if you are crafty, buy some cotton fabric you love, cut into 12"x12" squares, and use a simple stitch to hem the edges. Easy peasy! Your guests now have a pretty hanky to dab their eyes!
4. PAPERS, PLEASE!
|photo: Paper Source|
Like everything in our "paperless world" Welcome Gifts often include at least a little bit of paper in the form of a note or tags on the goodies, or labels, etc. This is another area where you can "green" your gifts. Many paper manufacturers now offer papers with some degree of recycled content. Check out your local vendors or even get creative and reuse items you already have!
One vendor I use frequently is Paper Source, who offers certain papers with recycled content and is moving forward with a campaign to provide the consumer with more and more eco-friendly offerings. See their Eco-Story here.
5. GIVE YOUR GUESTS AN ALTERNATIVE!
Why not welcome your guests in another way? Take the money you WOULD have spent on making the Welcome Gifts, and use it another way. Talk to your hotel about providing some light refreshment in each guest room upon arrival. Perhaps you can arrange to have the hotel provide a bottle of sparkling water, some glasses and a sweet treat, presented with a note from you (on eco-friendly paper, of course!) in their room. Or, leave a note in each guest's room inviting them to the bar for a complementary glass of wine once they have settled in. There are many ways to get creative and warmly welcome your guests!
While sometimes I long for the simpler, less "connected" times of my youth, I am certainly glad to live in a world now that is fighting to keep our environment clean. These are just a few of the ideas that I have come up with to help keep wedding Welcome Gifts environmentally friendly. I hope you employ some of these ideas and please, feel free share your own tips with me!