Gorgeous and Green Events is a certified green business!It took a few months, well quite a few, mostly because I've been so busy. But we're certified. I hope to get the seal up on the blog and website soon. For information about Bay Area Green Certification go here: http://www.greenbiz.ca.gov/ Gorgeous and Green was already fulfilling most of the requirements and usually going beyond them, but there were still some things I worked on. One thing I do now is keep a tally of waste. I think it's really key to see how much waste, even biodegradable or recyclable materials, we are responsible for on a daily basis. Overall, I think it was a good step in the process of being green. I plan to continue to find new ways to act as a sustainable business and offer sustainable product. I've been sick this week, so I apologize for the short blog. In Green and Health, G&G
Sustainable or Not: IKEA (the big blue box)Now, I love the idea of affordable household goods, tools, dishware, furniture and plants all in one big store. I especially like to hear when big stores are selling items that are made from sustainable resources. But, you have to dig a little deeper than the tags on that couch to find out if it's really a sustainable purchase. Or maybe not, as in the case of the IKEA item of the month below. First off, if you've already got a couch, cups, plates, rugs, sheets, frames, etc. in your home, you probably don't need to go to Ikea. That is the first step is acting sustainably when it comes to shopping. Second, if you do need something, you probably don't need to buy the plastic candle holders and the cute scented candles that smell like fake gardenias. This step requires the most strict determination to avoid putting unnecessary items into your cart. This is probably the wisest of steps. Third, if you just want to see what Ikea has, because you're thinking of putting bamboo floors in your house, due to the fact that your current floors have either 1: completely disappeared beneath your feet, 2: have a complete termite infestation, or 3: the carpet has completely gone bald and you are mad that you still call it a shag rug from when it was first put in, in 1969. Then, don't bring your wallet. See above. The problem with IKEA, is that they sell a lot of items you would need when first starting up your home collection. Necessary and well priced stuff, that can be sustainable (see glass food containers and low-wattage lamps). But it also has a ton of stuff you don't need. Let's face it. You don't need a large stuffed snake made of plastic or a paper box to hide your overgrowth of office junk. Just recycle it already. Want to see some specific examples of what you don't need? Take the following items for example:
These, are plants. Plastic plants. Sure, they don't need water, but they are also made entirely of petroleum and probably led to chemical pollution where they were made, where they will hang for a few years and where they will be thrown away. Pretty much defeats the purpose. It's almost like the ironic opposite of an oxygen producing and air purifying, real live plant.
And get this:Buy their plastic plants, and everything else you didn't need, and you can make up for part of the pollution by donating money to plant a tree. More irony please? Ikea, I love your low watt bulbs and your glass jars, but I can't forgive your plastic plants and other plastic crappola. Avoiding unnecessary plastic stuff, G&G
Tasha's DesignsI've slowly been coming across more green and sustainable invitation options out there in the sustainable event and wedding world. I am always impressed by small business owners who were startups turned artists, or vice versa. Maybe they were always an artist, but something in their life changed or they changed their own life's course and let their creative imagination and sustainable thinking run a business. It reminds me of my own story just a little. Here's a great small business doing sustainable designed invitations: Tasha Rae Designs. I asked the owner, Tasha Fontanes, to answer some of my green and catchy questions about her business and her life. Check out some of her designs, her cool story and how she works green into her business:
I like the play on the tree carving a couple might do, signifying the lasting commitment of a relationship etched into a old tree. Very Romantic.
this one's my favorite, mostly because of the large colorful flowers, kind of like in a kaleidoscope
1. Why did you start your invitation/stationary business and why did you decide to offer sustainable/eco-friendly designs?I started designing invitations as a hobby after I had printed my own wedding invitations. About a year into it, fate stepped in when I got laid off from my full-time job just a week before I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. So I decided to dive in head first and start my own business. I added earth-friendly invitations about 5 years ago when people were becoming more aware of the fact that we need to clean up our planet. The demand for earth-friendly invites has grown tremendously over the last 5 years and now I would say about 85% of my customers request recycled papers (and I try to talk the other 15% into using them as well!)
2. In what ways is your business sustainable?I offer a wide variety of recycled and earth-friendly papers, I reuse the packaging that my paper comes in to package my final products and I recycle ink cartridges through a program that sends money or school supplies to my daughter’s school. I also plant a tree at the end of each month through www.americanforests.org for each earth-friendly order. Another thing that is important in my sustainable business deals with the customers themselves. Instead of charging my customers for samples, I ask them to make a small donation to the charity of their choice. Amazing things can happen when you ‘pay it forward’. My business has thrived based on this idea so I am proof that it really works!
3. How would you define sustainable living?I think an important part of sustainable living revolves around the way you treat the people around you as well as the world around you. I am a firm believer in 'what goes around, comes around' and I try to apply it to all parts of my life. Whether it’s by recycling or just doing something nice for someone, so they in turn pass it on. If we all take care of each other and the earth, we will live happier and healthier lives.
4. What do you think is the biggest barrier in getting people to choose green wedding options including invites?I think sometimes people get stuck in old traditions or etiquette and have a hard time breaking out of the mold. Invitations do not have to be engraved to be elegant. Reply postcards are OK and cut down on paper waste. I tell people that recycled papers may vary a little and have some inconsistencies but this is what make them unique and beautiful.
5. What is the most un-green or unsustainable event or wedding practice that you can think of or have seen in your experience?Well – I think people are getting smarter about this now, but I would say a lot of people still waste a lot on useless wedding ‘favors’. I LOVE the new ‘greener’ trends... making a donation to a charity in lieu of favors, giving guests seed packets to plant or writing a personal note to each guest (on recycled paper of course!).
6. Let's pretenf for a moment that you could create one green/eco-friendly invention in your life (that worked, no matter how unbelievable) what would it be?I think since I am a work at home mom (my daughter is long out of diapers, but thinking back in time...) it would have to be a diaper that just disappears into thin air...you don’t have to throw it away or wash it. Just take it off the baby and poof it’s gone!
Since we've already received an invention for a sustainable diaper (which isn't surprising, since 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the US, resulting in a possible 3.4 million tons of used diapers adding to landfills each year, a fact shared in a recent Time Magazine article in 2008) She emailed me an additional highly needed green invention:how about a solar powered robot that cleans the house! :)
In green, clean houses, and health,
Growing Flowers for Sustainable Weddings
part deuxSo, I love gardening. So much so, I've been gardening both at my house and at my good friend's house in Richmond, because she has a big backyard. I mentioned in an earlier post that I would be planting at her house after we cleared her wilderness of a backyard. So far, I've only gotten to the clearing stage, but in the meantime, I've planted a little more at my own house.
On one side of the house, I cleared some space for some ferns and larger leaf plants. Mostly because it's a moist area and doesn't get as much sun as other parts of our lot.
Here are some of what I planted:
And this little guy, I didn't plant, but is a byproduct of our bird feeder. More sunflower seeds to come for the neighborhood birds.
I also planted a few other plants elsewhere in my garden, with the specific idea of using their leaves and flowers for green and sustainable flower design:
A gardenia plant
A small lemon tree
When we moved in to our house, it happened to come with 6 green hydrangea plants. They are so great for floral decor and I just love their light green/chartreuse color. They are just starting to come back this spring/summer, and are looking great so far. Last year we had a little bug issue, maybe some caterpillars eating the leaves, I'm hoping they'll satiate their bellies with just the low leaves, and leave the flowers and top leaves alone. Otherwise, I'll be looking into some pesticide-free methods of dealing with them. I'll let you know how that goes.
I'm excited to watch all these plants grow over the next year, and of course to start using their beautiful leaves and flowers for floral designs. I have to say, it's been so great having fresh flowers to cut and display in my own house. It adds so much joy and seems too easy. I definitely suggest growing your own plants and flowers, (pesticide free of course) not just for the benefit of the planet and the health of our atmosphere, but also for your emotional health.
In Green and Health,
Review of the site: www.greenyour.comI'm always on the lookout for helpful eco-conscious sites that have good and easily accessible information about weddings and wedding planning. Well, I happened upon www.greenyour.com and was excited. First of all, being in green business, it's hard to find people or places that offer up good and deliberately hearty information such as this. Looking under what they had to say about greening your wedding flowers, the facts were strong and depressing, and highly motivating. I was really impressed that they talked about the flower industry so clearly and without remorse. 70% of all cut flowers in the US are from Latin America, where we have no control over how much pesticide they use on those flowers. Then they are shipped to us and we put them in our hair and on our dining tables. What do you think happens to all those chemicals, at some counts more than 120 that are used on flowers and greens in out of country flower production? Not only are they poisoning both adult and children who work as flower farm workers in Latin American countries (and probably Thailand, China and wherever else flowers are being grown these days), but you guessed it, it's all ending up right in our homes, in our lives, in our water and in our dirt. So much for beauty. Now, being a florist, I knew this, and I know most people out there buying flowers don't. I know some of us do know this and choose to look the other way. But when facts are flown in your face, so clearly and without apology as on this website, you almost have to pay attention. One downfall to the site, is the lack of pizazz. Now, I know knowledge and truth go far and empowering people to make a difference shouldn't require marketing and flourishing design elements, but for many people on the web, pizazz makes people stop to watch. Overall, the site is clean. A nice medley of green and white with symbols everywhere so you know where to go. It's easy and simple. The also have a whole section under lifestyle on events, from birthdays to weddings. Fantastic. But still, a little plain for being so fantastic. So my only comment would be, to add some design elements, especially if you're talking about weddings and events and such. Not too much, just a nice flower pic here or cute dress there. I smell a letter to the editor. This site also included information about other wedding decisions in their 15 ways to green your wedding, from finding a green event or buying a vintage dress to carbon offsets for your event and travel. I would definitely suggest this site to anyone looking to know why these decisions are important ones and a few steps in how to actually make those decisions happen. Thanks greenyour.com! Now, if I could only get you to list more local resources in the Bay Area, I would be a happy camper. Many engaged couples don't have a ton of time, so sometimes the best thing to do is list where to go. But then again, I guess that's why I'm in business, to make it easier for those of you interested in planning and/or decorating a green event or wedding. So look me up (firstname.lastname@example.org) , and definitely check out www.greenyour.com In Green and Health, G&G
The Breathtaking Wedding in BajaI was a generally conscious person, aware of the benefits of organic produce, recycling and carpooling. I even favor vintage designs, art and clothes and had become accustomed to recycling and selling my clothes for needed cash or shopping sprees (thanks Berkeley). But my when I became engaged to a vegan who had studied sustainable development, the eco-consciousness raising was significant. After we became engaged, we set forth to plan the most sustainable event we could. And when we picked our venue, we decided on a quaint place in Mexico. Generally, it's more sustainable to stick closer to home. The less you and your guests travel, the less gas and jet fuel is burned. But we chose Mexico for a few different reasons. One: we had free lodging and transportation available to us there since my parents and their neighbors offered their lodging and vehicles for our use. Two: we both resided in the Bay Area, but a good amount of our family and friends lived in San Diego and LA, and the location of our event was only about an hour or so below the San Diego/Mexico border. Three: it was a little easier on our pocket book. With the money we saved on location, we could spend on getting organic and local flowers and other items that would have been more expensive in the US. We also chose to offset the costs of our jet travel. For more information about traveling carbon neutral or even carbon offsetting gift certificates check out:
www.carbonfund.org[caption id="attachment_105" align="aligncenter" width="130" caption="carbon fund carbon offsets"][/caption]
www.terrapass.com[caption id="attachment_106" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Terrapass gift certificate"][/caption] After we booked the location, the next item was the dress. My dress. Partly because as a bride-to-be there is a lot of pressure out there from magazines and commercials to pick the perfect dress, and partly because I myself was fascinated with the process of finding one. I chose to search far and wide (mostly on the internet) for a used or recycled dress to my liking. But this was no easy task in 2007. There were but a couple of websites, and the pickings were dismally slim. Since then, new sites have popped up and the pickings are vast. Here are a few of the websites I ventured to and many new sites now selling used and recycled dresses: I myself found an older pronovias dress on ebay, for darn cheap. Now, it wasn't totally what I imagined, there was a lot of lace involved that didn't suit my taste, but the price was right and the fit and style was exactly what I wanted. I also know how to sew, so for a few weeks before the wedding I managed to take most of the lace off and recreate the top in a way I preferred.
Wedding photography by Erin Beach at www.erinbeach.comIf you are interested in doing the same and you don't sew, find a local seamstress/tailor and have them make the alterations. Not only can you get the perfect fit for your shape, you'll also be paying the worker fair wages and supporting a local business! After the dress, we did some event and dinner planning. We wanted to go vegan, but realizing that many people eat meat, we felt it was important to offer a few options. So, we offered plenty of vegan sides like beans and rice, fresh grilled vegetables and potatoes, organic spring salad, tortillas, guacamole and salsa. For the main dishes we offered locally caught fish and mango chicken. We also had an appetizer buffet of freshly made tacos of either fish or beans during cocktail hour. Those fish tacos were a huge hit and a Baja delicacy. Local food was definitely getting the spotlight, so tasty and fresh! I asked some friends to make some natural aguas frescas for guests who didn't want soda or wine. My mother contributed a few cases of great Mexican wine and sparking wine from a local Baja vineyard, Santo Tomas.
Find info here about Santo Tomas:We decided to go with a vegan and organic cake from a local bakery in San Diego: Stephanie's Bakery in Ocean Beach. What a remarkable flavor explosion! We chose three different cakes, mostly because we couldn't make up our minds. My favorite was the chocolate with chocolate and more chocolate. Can you tell I like chocolate? Along with the dress, food, cake and location, there were many other details that needed planning and greening. Please tune in next blog for more!