Sudarshana and Veena are two NIFT - Chennai graduates, best friends and sustainability enthusiasts. While being semi-lazy and happy-go-lucky millennials, they also developed a strong sense of frustration towards our current lifestyle, compassion towards the environment and empathy towards people. They began a journey to find relatable, accessible and affordable sustainable way of living and document the same on their blog 'Two's Company'. Veena got married on the 10th of June 2018, and she decided to make her big day extra special, by planning a zero-waste wedding! We asked the duo to share their tips and below is the guest blog they wrote for us. :)
In a single day, a wedding produces more emissions than 4 - 5 people would in an entire year! The trash left behind at every wedding is the ugly side of a beautiful day that we often turn a blind eye to.
So when Veena decided to get married, the first thing we thought to ourselves is - we want to change how weddings work in India, without actually changing what makes a wedding work in India. We asked ourselves - ‘A big fat Indian wedding or a big-hearted Indian wedding?’ It was clear, we wanted to create a zone filled with love, happiness and celebration along with empathy and mindfulness about conscious living.
Therefore, we put together a ZERO-WASTE WEDDING (As crazy as it might seem for an Indian Wedding :P) and documented the same with the help of our like-minded friend, Yash Suda.
STEP 1: Make the experience interactive!
We started out by creating and circulating a fun and interactive survey to the guests. The process helped them know in advance the idea, what to expect and how to collaborate to make their experience better while being conscious.
The Link to the survey - https://goo.gl/forms/JCZ04t36Mf4Z4gcx2
STEP 2: Be Green, Leave it on the Screen!
Wedding invitations are always single-use disposables. Creating an E-Invite also enables you to add how many ever pages you want at no/minimal cost.
STEP 3: Borrow! (It's second-best on the Buyerarchy of Needs)
Wedding attires and jewellery are almost never worn more than once due to its extravagant and flamboyant nature while also splurging to acquire them in the first place. We used Veena's grandmother’s saree and existing family jewellery and for Vignesh, a shirt and dhoti that always existed in his wardrobe. After all, it is proven that people who invest in experiences over products tend to be happier.
STEP 4: No Plastic is Fantastic!
Although plastic chairs are reusable, we wanted to discourage overall plastic usage. We thus tried experimenting with alternate types of furniture like floor bedding. Other options include wooden and steel furniture.
STEP 5: Minimal and Smart Decor!
The wedding consisted of just a single four hour event for which we first picked out a venue which was beautiful and green thus adding a natural sense of decor by itself after which we ensured to use simple, minimal and 100% plastic free decor at the wedding while also making sure to only use seasonal flowers directly from the farmers market. All the flowers were held together with strings made from plant parts itself. We also tried to incorporate other ideas of decor like lights, blackboards, paintings and fabrics.
STEP 6: God is in the details!
While you make sure trash is eliminated from all the big processes, never miss out on the small ones. Here are some of the details we worked on:
No plastic bottles were given out at the wedding. Both, during the main ceremony where there were water counters and during breakfast/lunch, steel glasses and jugs were used, washed and re-used! This itself eliminates 80% of the plastic generated. No other form of plastic cutlery/plates etc were used. Food was served in a banana leaf and desert in an areca bowl. No plastic lining was used along with the rolling paper for the tables.
Since boxed gifts were not encouraged, there was a well-wishing counter where people could write a small note for the wedding couple. Additionally, we plan on planting a tree for every person who took the time out to write a sweet wish!
STEP 7: Un-trash your Trash!
Even with all the precautionary steps taken, trash will be generated at any event because of all the processes and people involved. Don’t be disheartened, Zero-Waste only means you take care of this trash and ensure it doesn’t end up in landfills if it can be put to use.
Although we ordered food to exactly match the required quantity to eliminate food waste, we can’t ever anticipate the turn out at an event. We tied up with Robin Hood Army to collect excess food post the wedding which was then distributed to nearby workers, kids and a child welfare centre. Kindness is truly contagious!
All the used Banana leaves/ Areca/ Rolling Paper was set up at a compost pit to make manure at Restore - A wonderful composting group from Chennai. All the flowers were from the decoration were collected and given to a colony in Thiruvanmiyur to be used as garden fertilizer. All the vegetable waste from the kitchen was made into pulp to be used as a garden tonic by Restore.
STEP 8: Beyond the wedding!
We used an easy biodegradable brown paper with a toothpick to hold the Thank You card! The card itself was made of SEED PAPER which everyone could now use to plant their own tree. The return gift consisted of a few eatables and sustainable products including the re-purposed coffee scrub.
By adopting simple mindful choices, we created a day that would be remembered for being compassionate and empathetic towards the earth and our society. They say perfection does not exist, but with everybody’s love, support and understanding, we could truly make the day perfect.
“It is good to be blessed, It is better to be a blessing”
For more tips and tricks of zero waste living follow 'Two's Company' on Instagram