Nothing like a Big Fat Indian Wedding- it’s a spectacle, a ceremony that flaunts the social and financial status of the parties getting into a matrimonial alliance. Even the middle class and not-so-affluent families spend as much as a quarter of their net worth on weddings. While the Indian wedding industry has spawned an ecosystem of event managers, caterers, photographers, decorators and many others around it, it is also true that it has become an epitome of colossal wastage. Be it for socio-cultural reasons or otherwise, families are oblivious to food, floral and other forms of wastage that happens during weddings.
As a tribute to the recently celebrated (22nd April) Earth Day and as a food for thought for couples betrothed to be married soon, here are some ideas on how your wedding can have positive impact on the Earth.
Doing away with the rice grains and flower petals
It is a common practice in Indian weddings to use colored rice grains and flower petals while blessing the couple. Each guest is offered approximately 5 gms of rice grains. So, in a medium scale wedding with a guest size of upto 400, that adds up to 2 kilos of rice. This is enough to feed a family of 3 for at least a week! Request the guests to clap their hands in celebration instead.
Using paper against plastic
Plastic is rampantly used for packing gifts, and in food plates and glasses. Tie up with an NGO, for the gift bags of size, strength and specifications of your choice. It is significantly cheaper, reduces carbon footprint, drives impact in the form of livelihood for the poor and the NGO also gets to promote itself thus attracting more donors. Plastic cups are norm since they are easy to discard. You could replace them with paper cups. You could also choose plates and bowls made out of dried banana leaves so as to aid organic composting after use.
Cutting down on floral wastage
Several fresh and sweet smelling flowers are used to make the wedding garland only to be thrown out quickly. Why not use a thinner, single row garland instead? Same applies to the bouquets that are received as gifts. You could request guests to refrain from gifting bouquets.
Avoiding food wastage
Food is perhaps the biggest area of wastage in Indian weddings. Quick back of the envelope calculations based on a survey by University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, shows that on an average 11 kilos of food is wasted in each wedding. Every year, as many as 10 million weddings take place all over India. This adds up to 1.1 Lakh Tons of food wasted in a year. This is sinful in a country where 194 Million people go hungry. What can you do? Well, insist on a food caterer who has a food waste management system or has tie-ups with NGOs that distribute wasted but edible food to the needy. If your preferred caterer doesn’t have such an arrangement, you could yourself reach out to such NGOs.
Employ servers to serve food on-demand as against a free-for-all buffet. You could employ deaf/ dumb people here, giving them livelihood too!
Replacing incandescent lights with LED
Incandescent lights suck in huge volumes of electricity and emit a lot of heat. LED lights on the other hand are 80-90% more energy efficient. You could do away with the traditional yellow light bulbs and replace them with LED lamps in the lighting and décor, to reduce heat emission and save on your bills.
These suggestions for a Eco-friendly wedding may seem radical to some while it may seem necessary to some others. We need to change our unwavering submission to certain cultural practices & rituals and question whether our happiness is a grief for the world around us. Did you plan a green wedding too? We would love to hear your ideas!
All photos courtesy Rohan Potdar