Eco-friendly wedding invitations

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Trimming down your guest list can be a huge challenge. Once it’s done, straight away another appears: how do you find an ethical way of sending out your invitations?  Don’t stress just yet – we’ve got some great ideas.

But first, let’s walk you through the environmental issues that come to mind when we talk about wedding invitations—that is, deforestation.

Deforestation

Do you know that every minute, we lose forests the size of 20 football fields; and every year, forested areas half the size of England disappear? At the rate we’re going, the world’s rain forests could be gone a hundred years from now.

While paper production is not the primary culprit of deforestation, it remains one of the major contributors. To make just one ton of paper, 10 to 17 trees are felled. In 2005, world paper consumption was at 366 million tonnes. That means around 27 million trees were cut in that year alone for paper.

Based on the average worldwide annual paper consumption of 48kg per person, in 20 years, each one of us would be responsible for the loss of around 14 trees, as well aseverything that lives in and on those trees. That’s almost one tree per year! And if you belong to an industrialized country, your average paper consumption in a year is actually a whopping 12-14 times greater than those living in non-industrialized countries.

Water usage

But we and the paper industry are not only guilty of deforestation, because the paper manufacturing business is also the largest industrial user of water per pound of finished product. While this water does return to the Earth, the problem is the toxic organochlorine by-products it comes with, which pollute water sources, our food, and our bodies.

 

The solutions

If all that sounds grim, don’t despair! There are fantastic eco-friendly initiatives and technologies that help lessen the impact of paper production not only on our forests but air, waters, and people as well.

  • Recycled paper.
    According to a study by Australian Science, one tonne of recycled paper saves 13-24 trees, 31,780 liters of water, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4 cubic metres of landfill, and 27 kilograms of air pollutants.
  • Tree-free papers.
    These are papers sourced from materials other than trees, such as banana, bamboo, denim, stone, beer, and—you won’t believe this—kangaroo and elk poop.
  • Seed paper.
    These are recycled paper with seeds embedded on them, which grows flowers, vegetables, and herbs.
  • Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) and Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) bleaching methods.
    These two are the more environment-friendly options than the conventional toxic chlorine bleaching technique.
  • Soy-based and/or vegetable inks.
    Aside from being healthy for the environment, they are also good for the printing staff who would otherwise be exposed to harmful chemicals when using traditional mineral-oil based inks. The old inks pollute the air and water by releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when drying the paper and during the cleaning of the plates.

While your wedding invitations will not require a ton of paper, we all know how fast the little things add up. So here are some of the ways you can go green with your invitations and few of the many companies out there that provide eco-friendly alternatives.


Recycled & tree-free paper invitations

Use vendors that craft tree-free or recycled paper invitations and that use green printing methods. If you have a lot of things on your plate, it might be a good idea to entrust the eco-friendly wedding invitations to shops that specialize in them. This way you are also sending your support to them and encouraging other companies to follow suit.

There’s The Windmill Paper Boutique, for example, that offers designer and bespoke recycled wedding invitations on cotton and bamboo papers printed with vegetable inks. Smock is also a competitive choice. They do not only perform green-printing on locally-sourced organic bamboo paper, but also use wind energy to run their operations and manage their trash responsibly through reusing and recycling. Then there’s UK Fair-Trade company Vinati’s Paper that uses handmade paper and silk-screen printing techniques.

You can also ask seed paper suppliers to do your wedding invitations on recycled paper. The plants that grow from the paper are a great way to remember by your special day. If people choose to throw them away, no worries for they’re completely biodegradable. Sow n Sow, Bloomin, and Wildflower Favors are some of the names in this niche.

You may also opt to work with green printing companies that use soy-based or vegetable inks such as QLD Trade Print and Print Together (Australia), PFL (US), and Ashley House Printing Company (UK). They have their in-house graphic designers to help you with the design. They also provide you an option to print them on recycled paper.

 

DIY invitations / green printing.

Whether you think this is something you can do on your own, something that will save you money, or something that someone you know would like to help you out with, the green DIY route might be for you. Basically, all you need are eco-friendly paper, art materials, and an eye for aesthetics. Try to find a local shop like Australia-based company Earth Greetings for your card and envelope needs. (By the way, they have stockists in the US, New Zealand, Germany, and Hong Kong. Their website is also a great resource on the paper manufacturing and printing industries and their environmental impact.)

And of course, there’s Etsy that’s home to artists and crafters all over the world. They offer beautiful and affordable digital wedding templates and bespoke creations, which you can print on your own or with a green printing company.

Simplify your invitations

Some wedding invitations have three envelopes (the outer, inner, and self-addressed envelopes), reception and response cards, and printed maps and information on accommodations aside from the main invite itself. Paring down your wedding invitation inclusions or printing on both sides will save paper and mailing cost based on weight. And when save-the-dates are unnecessary, you may skip them altogether.

Choose local artists

The fight for the environment protection doesn’t have to be the death of the arts. You can look for calligraphers near your area to do your wedding invitations. Going for local talents would help in decreasing the immense carbon footprint that fuel emissions from deliveries leave.

Consider how it is if you have all your wedding needs brought in to you from various parts of the world—even the wedding invitations! What more if everyone thinks it posh to have a wedding dress from France, flowers from the Netherlands, wedding invitations from Australia, and seafood sourced from the depths of the Pacific Ocean just for one event!

Online wedding invitations

Go paperless! Depending on your culture or your boldness to defy traditions, it might be a good idea to go digital.  Affordable, environment-friendly, and efficient are just some of its advantages.

First option is to have your personalized wedding website. Just go to sites such as RSVPify, The Knot, Paperless Wedding, and Green Envelope. After some decision-making on the design and encoding of guests’ email addresses, your wedding invitations will be in their merry way to friends’ and families’ inboxes in no time. And with a few clicks, you can see who’ll make it to your Big Day, who won’t, and who needs some prodding.

Compared to the physical wedding invitations that will cost you between $381-$441, this can cost you anywhere from nothing to $373, depending on the number of guests or the features you’ll use. Plus, they take care of a lot of other things for you, such as communication for car pooling and gathering of menu preferences.

But if you really want to send out physical invitations, you can just put in your wedding invitations the personal URL these websites will have provided you with. Then, guests can just RSVP on the website and not have to send snail mails.

Facebook private event for wedding invitations

A second way to go paperless is by sending digital wedding invitations through private messages on Facebook or by creating a private event in the same platform to serve as RSVP tracking. All you need is a digital copy of the invitation, the information card, and editable RSVP card.

While online wedding invitations may not sit well with some people, consider this though as an opportunity to raise awareness on environmental issues. Then you would have achieved the first step of setting the tone for the kind of celebration you want. Think kindly though of guests unfamiliar with the digital world. So maybe you can make an exception or provide assistance for guests who need help in this department. After all, whether in digital or physical format, the essence of sending the invitations is for everyone in the guest list to partake in the celebration.

After deciding on the best green wedding invitation route to take, consider as well eco-friendly ways to do the wedding programs, menus, place cards, and gift wraps. After the celebration, most of them will just end up in the trash bin anyways. The trees to make the paper may have been felled already, but we can still make each fallen tree count.

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