A Green(ish) Destination Wedding in Costa Rica

Posted on March 28, 2010. Filed under: carbon footprint, living green, waste reduction | Tags: , , , , |

My husband and I just returned from our destination¬† wedding in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. It was incredible and a forever memorable trip. Because we wanted to keep it affordable and started planning only about 3 months ahead of time we didn’t have a ton of options. Luckily we narrowed down our location to Costa Rica and fairly quickly found a resort that would work.

Here is what I did to be as green as possible within our short time frame and budget:

1) Paperless Post invites. Paperless Post lets you select and customize stationary and envelopes that you send via email. There is a small cost for the “stamps” but the cost is minimal compared to the cost of customizing, printing, and mailing paper invitations. And there is no waste!

2) Beef-free Buffet.¬† We selected a resort that, while it didn’t have an eco-friendly rating despite the booming eco-tourism of Costa Rica (those we found that were eco-rated cost much more than our budget could afford and were all-inclusive, which wasn’t what we were going for). We were able to get a buffet menu and negotiated only to offer the amount of food per person rather than the minimum of 40 people (we only had 30). We also selected a menu of chicken and fish so we didn’t have the added carbon footprint of beef.

3) Local flowers. Our table decorations were very minimal and designed of only local tropical flowers, as were the flowers that decorated our cake.

4) Paper free. Despite having a reception in the garden right next to the beach, all of our serving ware was reusable with real plates, glasses, napkins and silver ware provided by the resort. We also went without programs. Some people may like the keepsakes, but we provided a very memorable experience for our guests without producing any additional waste, much of which would have likely blown into the ocean.

5) Walkable location. None of our guests needed a car. They were able to take shuttles from the Liberia Airport to the resort and Tamarindo and walk around town or take group shuttles to nearby activities.

6) BYO-Water Bottle. People may think this is just one more thing to remember on a trip, but on recent plane travel I have been bringing my own reusable water bottle. I keep it empty through security so it is not confiscated, and then on the plane have them fill it up with water so that I don’t waste a plastic cup and ensure I get more H20 to keep hydrated.

We had a perfect wedding, with the ocean in the background, all for under $4000 ($3000 more for total travel, hotel, meals, and transportation to and from airport, so about $7000 all said and done). A few green practices and some thrifty planning helped us have a wedding that had minimal environmental impact (airplane travel was the biggest impact for which we purchased carbon offsets for our travel) all for an incredibly affordable price by U.S. standards (I recently read that the average U.S. weddings costs $25,000 and D.C. – where we live – averages $45,000).

Adopting a few eco-practices can help you be green and save green, while still having a wedding celebration that is every bit as memorable for you and your guests as one that costs thousands more.

be well. live green.

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Show Some Love to the Planet

Posted on February 14, 2010. Filed under: carbon footprint, green business, green home, green purchasing, living green, waste reduction | Tags: , , , , , , , |

It’s Valentine’s Day. If you are embracing a loving spirit today and sending some love to those important people in your life, why not throw Mother Earth into that mix. I have to admit that after more than a week of battling record snowfall in Washington D.C. I’m not loving Mama Earth so much and may have even muttered a “so much for global warming” under my breathe after the 20th time of shoveling my way out of my house – BUT – a day of sunshine and glistening snow had me feeling a little less bitter, and reflecting more about weather, climate change, and our environmental responsibilities regardless of how hot or cold it is on any given day or week.

A Sunday opinion article in today’s Washington Post, “Global Warming’s Snowball Fight,” shed some light on the climate change challenge and raised some questions about whether the recent weather patterns have officially shoved climate change legislation to the backburner. A few comments I’d like to share from the article:

  • Christine Todd Whitman, who since leaving the EPA is President of the Whitman Strategy Group: “Calling what is happening simply “global warming” is misleading. There will be many changes along the way, including colder temperatures. (…) Let’s not forget that 10 of the past 11 years were the warmest on record.”
  • David G. Hawkins, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate change programs: “Just as a group of cancer-free, cigarette-smoking 75 year-olds does not disprove that smoking causes cancer, a handful of snowstorms does not counter massive evidence that we are changing the Earth’s climate.”
  • Ed Rogers, White House staffer to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; chairman of the BGR group: “There is global climate science and then there is the Global Warming Movement. (…) The movement was already dead in Congress in 2010, but Snowmageddon buried it. At least for a while, the left will have to think up a new way to dictate a lifestyle for the rest of us. Maybe now the science can continue without the clumsy overreaching of the movement’s priestly class.”

Quite different perspectives from different sides of the aisle. And this debate will likely continue for as long as I am still alive. In another article in the Washington Post today, writer Bill McKibben shed some interesting light on the cold weather effect of global warming: “…Rising temperature is only one effect of climate change. Probably more crucially, warmer air holds more water vapor than cold air does. The increased evaporation from land and sea leads to more drought but also to more precipitation, since what goes up eventually comes down. (…) global warming has added 4% more moisture to the atmosphere since 1970 [which] means the number of ‘extreme events’ such as downpours and floods has grown steadily.”

While we continue to examine the scientific evidence of climate change, shuffle legislation from the House to Senate and back to the review files, hold meetings in Copenhagen or other cities around the globe, why not take a few simple actions in the meantime. It may not prevent another historic snowfall in Washington DC this winter, but certainly won’t hurt any of us to show a little love to the planet!

A few ideas to live greener, showing some love to Mother Earth and your Valentine(s):

  • Reuse: Get creative with things collecting dust in your junk drawer. Courtesy of treehugger.com, design your own necklace out of old keys.
  • Be an Eco-traveler: Check out these sites for ways to support businesses making a commitment to green while you enjoy a little R&R.
  • Recreate: Got roses from your sweetheart? Turn them into a natural skin enhancer.
  • Improvise: Skip the restaurant. Hit the farmer’s market. Have nice candlelit dinner at home, probably saving money and CO2 emissions.

None of these green actions are destined to have a significant impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases, but every little step helps. Less waste, less travel, supporting a green supply chain – all these efforts add up. So don’t be afraid to show some love to your planet by saying and doing more with less. Your loved ones might also appreciate your thought and creativity!

be well. live green.

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