Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I now pronounce you...Eco-friendly!

Long time no blog post! My apologies to you all for my absence these last few months. I assure you that it wasn't out of pure laziness, rather it was out of being overworked by my education. Now that the semester is over and I ended it with a 4.0 semester GPA, I am back to blogging!

In other news, my fiancée and I have been engaged for about a year now and we've been really honing in on the wedding plans lately. Since ecology is important to both of us, we have been coming up with environmentally friendly alternatives to some of the more traditional wedding practices. Almost everything can be bought from organic and fair trade vendors, but knowing how to go about the details is a little tougher. Here are two of our more unusual eco-friendly wedding ideas for those of you out there who are also in the same love-boat.

The rings!

Arguably the most important icon of weddings across multiple cultures since ancient times, the ring has been on the receiving end of much criticism lately in regards to conflict diamonds, or diamonds sold to fund wars responsible for the deaths of nearly four million people. For this reason, the Kimberley Process (KP) was born which is an international government regulation to ensure that diamonds are mined and traded conflict-free. Jewelers and jewelry companies now often advertise the fact that their diamonds are conflict-free and provide credentials to their customers.

A miner in Sierra Leone holding a diamond. Photo by Yannis Kontos.  Published by the New York Times, 2006.

But for those of you who still have concerns over the integrity of diamonds, you would be happy to know that diamonds weren't always the "go to" stone for marriage. In fact, diamond wedding rings were only worn traditionally in specific cultures and often came with other gemstones and styling requirements. It wasn't until the launch of the 1947 De Beers "A Diamond is Forever" campaign in which diamonds were regarded as the gem of choice because of its properties of strength and stability not found in any other stone (a rating of 10 on the Mohs Scale). Popular alternatives to diamonds include sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and cubic zirconia, however any stone with a rating of 8 or higher on the Mohs Scale is of a desired strength for wedding rings.

If you're considering a Kimberley-certified diamond or alternative gemstone, you may also be interested in buying recycled rings or having your old unwanted jewelry made into your wedding rings by a jewelry designer. Recycled jewelry is often less expensive and since it's not generally done by large jewelry corporations, it tends to add a personal touch to it. The process involves removing any stones or beads from old jewelry, melting down the precious metals, and reforging them into a wedding band. If you have them made, you and your fiancée get to decide on the design and materials with the assistance of a jeweler while also having the comfort in knowing where all the materials came from.

This modern wedding ring from Erin Jane Designs is made from 14 kt recycled gold and a white sapphire.

So whether you have your heart set on diamonds or you're getting a feel for alternative stones, there are many ways to go about the rings without feeling guilty on your wedding day!

Register with Kindness

You may be thinking to yourself, "Gift registry? That's random!" But really, there are ways to be eco-friendly when it comes to gift registry as well. One way would be have a registry somewhere that is environmentally conscious and fair trade--that's obvious. But we're going about our registry a little differently:

8"plushy from the World Wildlife Fund.
In lieu of gifts, my fiancée and I are asking our guests to adopt an endangered species through the World Wildlife Fund. As an example, when you adopt a polar bear for $50 you'll receive a polar bear plushy and other goodies while helping a critically endangered species. Then during the reception, guests could bring their plushies and take pictures together with them. This would capture the fond memory of loved ones having shared in the conservation of endangered animals. I personally would rather have that than a blender.

Yeah, it's kinda cute...but not as cute as polar bears.

If you're considering going this route but aren't really interested in the World Wildlife Fund, there's always other organizations or fund raisers you can support. Whatever is important to you and your family is what really makes this idea special. Perhaps you have a loved one who suffers from an illness and you would like people to donate to its cause. Or maybe you're involved in your local church and would prefer donations to benefit your creed. Whatever your cause, you would be sharing something that is important to you and your fiancée with the rest of your family. (And if you still really want a new blender, you can always have an alternative registry--I promise I wont tell anyone.)

When it comes to your wedding, it's important that it represents the values of you and your fiancée. If being environmentally friendly is important to you both, there's an endless amount of things you can do for your wedding to support those values. What are some of your wedding plans?

There's at least 52 other ways you can be more eco friendly in your every day life. You can also learn the history of electric vehicles, and maybe make the switch yourself!