Carbon Footprint Calculators for Weddings
Weddings hog resources–they are resource hogs. There are flowers, and attire, and favors, and food, and entertainment, and hair and make up, and accessories, and accoutrements, and photography, and cake, and travel, and guest accommodations… According Patti Lew of SF Green Weddings Examiner, a single wedding can make a bigger environmental impact in one day than the couple typically does in an entire year. We are talking 63 tons of CO2 here. The average American couple produces around 48 tons of CO2 each year–not a small number, mind you.
Certainly favors and programs that are discarded, decorations and flowers that get tossed, and the wasted food and cake all make an impact, But travel and accommodations leave the biggest carbon footprint.
You can certainly green up your favors, decorations, and food (and I encourage you to do so) but at the end of the day, air travel, car travel to and from the ceremony and reception sites, and the energy expended for hotel accommodations that create the biggest carbon footprint.
Limiting your guest list is the best way to reduce your impact, but you can also participate in offset programs to mitigate your wedding's environmental impact Non-profit organizations such as Terra Pass and Carbon Fund offer carbon footprint calculators and carbon offset donations.
Of note: the Carbon Fund has teamed up with the Wedding Wire to offer a carbon calculator app for wedsites. Calculate your carbon footprint, then donate (or have your guests donate) money to offset your impact. The best part: your green priorities are front and center on your wedsite.
The way a carbon offset works is 1) you calculate your wedding's carbon footprint based on travel and hotel accommodations 2) you make a donation based on your carbon footprint. Easy! For example, Bright Planet (which estimates a foot print based on wedding size) estimates your "medium-sized wedding of 175 guests will produce 63 tons of CO2 emissions. The carbon offset donation is $882.
You pay the money. The donation goes to support green energy and other eco-friendly initiatives. And you can feel a bit better knowing that the impact you make is somewhat offset by your monetary contributions. Consider making a carbon offset donation in your guests' honor in lieu of favors.
I believe the greenest wedding is a small, local one, using recycled and reusable goods, eating foods within your foodshed, and limiting shipping and travel. I firmly believe that buying ones way out of high environmental impact is not a perfect solution. However, with that said, I think carbon offset initiatives are a welcome addition to the wedding industry.
One last site of interest is Source Map. If you feel like getting into the nitty gritty of the carbon footprint of your food, or that vintage dress you scored on , or that Etsy cake topper, you can create a travel map or a traceability map that calculated the carbon footprint based on shipping, and assembly location. You can also enter a UPC code for store bought goods. The Lyons-Oneil Wedding is an example of the carbon footprint of a number of food items fro the area.