As a country known for its elaborate festivities and celebrations, India’s obsession with big, fat, and extravagant weddings does not come as a surprise. The Bollywood union of Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor has flooded social media platforms and will continue to be romanticized until the next big thing. With wedding planners and consultancy firms that take into their own hand several tasks – like booking venues, hotels, decor and furniture, hiring professionals like DJs, photographers and videographers, caterers, florists, make-up and hair stylists, etc – many have had their fairytale fantasies precisely come to life on their big day.
However, underneath the laughter and tears of a wedding scene, the enormity of these celebrations comes at a massive cost. An average Desi wedding produces about 300 kilograms of plastic waste and 200 kilograms of food waste. As the renowned comic Rohan Chakravarty puts it in his comic strip, instead of a bride and a groom, we could indeed imagine two huge landfills tying the knot.
It is estimated that more than 10 million weddings happen in India every year, each occurring over a stretch of three to five days. With the industry growing annually at a startling rate of 30%, we humans are not prepared to deal with the tricky issue of waste disposal. The biggest concern with the wastes generated at weddings is that they are in the form of “Mixed garbage.” The term Mixed garbage is used to refer to the inseparable clump of garbage that includes cutlery, paper, foil, and wet food waste all mixed together, which makes reusing and recycling an impossible task.
The large quantities of waste generated also leave a massive carbon footprint on the earth. One wedding might seem too small to drive a significant change in our environment, but the cumulative effect of all the weddings that occur over a year added together substantially accelerates global warming and climate change.
Having said that, today’s eco-conscious millennials are emerging as a new ray of hope for the environment. With greater awareness of the role of humans in climate decline, many millennials are opting for a minimalist wedding which proves to go easy on their wallets as well. A young couple, Dadawala and Aravind, took an oath to make their marriage waste-free and green. They were able to divert over 900 kilograms of waste from landfills due to their efforts and directed 710 kilograms of wet waste for bio-methanation at Carbon Masters India Pvt Ltd. It only takes a little extra effort to pull off a green wedding.
The first step in arranging a wedding is the distribution of invitations. Instead of printing out a multi-page invitation, you could opt for a minimal one-page invite. An even better option is creating an e-invite. You could splash around with a variety of colors, explore a range of designs and animations and make it personal. More couples today are leaning towards intimate weddings, inviting only close relatives and friends. You could likewise limit the count of your guests, and conduct a virtual live stream of the event to the remaining guests. This will ultimately reduce the wastage that your ceremony is going to leave behind.
Instead of booking a grand hotel as your venue, try picking an open space like a beach, lawn, garden, or farm that will help you cut down on electricity by providing natural lighting and breeze. For decorating your venue, use locally sourced flowers instead of plastic or paper decorations. By choosing a location that already presents you with an aesthetic setting, like a garden or lawn, you can again avoid spending on decoration. Abandon plastic chairs and instead rent wooden chairs or floor cushions that can be reused later.
Hire a catering company that serves dishes made of locally sourced ingredients. It is also best to use stainless steel cutlery and biodegradable banana leaves instead of plastic spoons and plates. Reports claim that about 40% of the food prepared for weddings gets dumped. Therefore, make sure you tie up with an NGO to distribute the leftover food to the needy. Feeding India, Robin Hood Army, and No Food Waste are some non-profit organizations that operate in India. Pack off your vegetable and floral wastes to a compost pit.
Flaunting our wealth with our clothing and accessories is the Indian convention. We buy one set of clothing and jewelry exclusively for each ceremony of the wedding. But if you’re hoping to make yours a green wedding, it is best to reuse or upcycle your ancestors’ sarees and jewelry instead of the go-to Kanjipuram silk or Sabyasachi. Select organic and cruelty-free makeup products like Ruby organics, Biotique, Lotus Herbals, etc.
Gifts are a big deal at Indian weddings. But oftentimes, you find gifts that you received collecting dust in your attic as they are of very less use to you. To avoid the wastage of such gifts, you could create a ‘gift registry’ for your marriage where you list out the presents you would like to receive from your guests. Your guests will now have an idea of what specifically you’re looking for. As a return gift, you could offer saplings that your relatives and friends can cherish for years. Eatable wrapped in seed paper is another delectable option. When planted into the soil and water, seed paper germinates and sprouts seedlings. You could further ask your guests to donate to environmental conservation programs and organizations instead of buying a gift.
By systematically arranging and regulating a green wedding, not only are you being an eco-conscious couple, you’re also seeding awareness in a gathering of 100-400 guests. By allowing people to witness that it just takes a little effort to pull off a zero-waste wedding, you’re also helping clear their misconceptions about how tedious a green wedding could be. You could additionally engage your guests by organizing a plantation activity, seed ball-making activity, or an impromptu street play to keep your audience entertained.
- Make your wedding a low waste affair – Times of India
- 7 perfect ideas to celebrate your perfect zero-waste wedding – thebetterindia.com
- 17 Green Wedding Ideas for an Eco-Friendly Celebration – brides.com
- The wedding industrial complex – theweek.com