Breaking with Tradition

There were over 150 000 weddings in Canada last year. That’s everything from sneaking off to city hall to breaking the bank on an all-out traditional bash.

Think about the last traditional wedding you’ve been to. Beautiful flowers for the wedding party, on the tables, on the pews. Toast after toast to the happy couple. So much food you couldn’t possibly finish it.

Those flowers were most likely grown with pesticides and possibly shipped overseas. It was easier to get 150 plastic wine glasses than 150 glass wine glasses.  In the rush to clean up and get home at the end of the night the catering staff skipped sorting out the compostables and all that left over food went with the trash (with the plastic glasses that could have been recycled).

Well, tradition is lovely but you can’t cling to something out of nostalgia when it’s just all-round not good for us or the planet. As an educated, environmentally/socially conscious group of brides-to-be and grooms-to-be we have to do what we know we should but cringe at the thought of: break with tradition.

You might want to start by mentally preparing yourself to deal with the expression on your grandmothers face when she gets her email invitation. I think invitations are an area that can easily be upgraded to planet-friendly, but it possibility one of the hardest. Invitations are the first thing guests experience about a wedding. They set the tone, arriving in a colour that matches the flowers and bridesmaids’ dresses. They’re pretty, customized and give all the info your guests need.

But they use resources. Lots of paper. The invitation. The envelope. The response card. Are all your guests going to recycle it? Lots of postage. Trucks driving the letter to your guests. Trucks driving the response cards back to you.

You can still get all the pretty, all the customization, and all the info to your guests without the tree chopping and exhaust billowing. Email! Websites like Cocodot let you have what looks exactly like your traditional invitation without all the guilt. Beautiful, customized invitations, along with all sorts of other handy features, such as links to registries, wedding websites and guest tracking. When I first saw this website my first thought was “people won’t like getting an email invitation”. But this is the bride and groom’s wedding, not the guests’, and why would they set aside their values for their wedding? If anything this is a chance to embrace your values.

(As an added bonus, it will also most likely cost you less)

150 000 weddings in Canada a year. You could save a lot trees.

***Author’s Note*** I got engaged! In case you couldn’t tell. Don’t worry though, all my posts won’t be about weddings from now on. I’ll try to bring up topics that are applicable to other situations. You can use email invitations for any event; anniversary, birthday, just because. And I’ll still cover some non-wedding issues. Like the BP oil gush being plugged (for now).

This week’s Green Product!

There’s a stew of claims about the adverse health effects of deodorant. Did you know that Alzheimer’s patients have higher than normal concentrations of aluminum in their brain tissue? Did you know that antiperspirants use aluminum to close your pores so you don’t sweat?

Now, there’s no clear evidence that shows that the aluminum in your brain got there by being absorbed  through your armpits, or that aluminum is a cause of Alzheimer’s, but it makes you think. Plus the mining of aluminum is definitely not a good thing for the environment. There’s also chemical fragrances, formaldehyde (the stuff your frogs were in before you dissected them in grade 11), and talc. Talc was exposed as being illegally mined from an Indian wildlife sanctuary in 2003 and being sold to companiess like Unilever, which owns the Axe and Degree brands.

Guess we’ll just have to stink, right? Wrong!

I started using Crystal Body Deodorant. It’s made from Ammonium Alum, a rock salt. It leaves a salt film on your skin that stops bacteria from growing, and they’re the ones that stink. It’s working for me; I know because I forgot to put it on one day. I recommend re-applying if you put it on in the morning and are going out again at night, it doesn’t seem to last as long as conventional stuff. It was more expensive than conventional sticks as well, but I have a feeling it’s going to last a long time. It seems to get used up slower than a roll-on or a regular stick so I expect it will work out on the plus financially by the time you need to get a new rock.

** This does not stop you from sweating. Just from stinking. **

Thanks to the book Ecoholic by Adria Vasil, where I got my info for this post. It’s a great book for those concerned about what’s going in/on/around their bodies and what every thing they do does to the planet and how to fix it!

The Downside of Irrationality

I was listening to Quirks and Quarks yesterday and they had an interesting segment with Dr. Dan Ariely, the author of The Upside of Irrationality. He does some cool experiments that basically show we’re not the rational animals we think we are (Sorry Aristotle).

When faced with a choice that involves short-term pain for long-term gain, we will often forgo the gain to avoid the pain. Why save money for retirement in 30 years when I can buy a TV now? Why do we waste time and energy on revenge when it’s much more productive for us to move on? He also said that mass disasters don’t get the same attention as individuals. When we see a mass disaster, say a genocide, we become emotionally ‘muted’, probably as a coping mechanism; but when we see one person suffering, our heart goes out to them (think The Blind Side).

Anyway, that was just to give you the gist of what he’s about. The point he brought up that I want to talk about is this: ‘If you were trying to design a problem that people would not care about it would look like climate change”.

Eep. It’s true  based on what he was talking about. It’s going to happen years down the the road (well, it’s getting sooner every day I think!), it’s going to happen to other people first (poor countries, island nations), we don’t see individuals suffering, and anything we do personally will be a drop in the bucket.

So how do we get people to care about climate change?

We have to reward them! He used the example of people who drive a Prius. They might think of themselves as being such a good person for driving a Prius. And when they drive around, they see all the people looking at them and thinking ‘what a good person, they’re driving a Prius’ (whether people looking at them are really thinking this is irrelevant, as long as the driver believes it).

EGO! That’s the answer. We have to use people’s ego’s to make them want to help the environment. i.e. If you help the environment you’re a better person! We all look up to you! Way to compost!

Do you part, and pat the next environmentalist you see on the back and tell them good job!

Oil Oil Everywhere

Even though I just posted about the dangers of an oil spill off the BC coast, I’m going to now post about the dangers of an oil spill in the Canadian Arctic. It seems appropriate given the situation in the USA. The dark cloud looms….

BP (everyone’s favourite company) has proposed to do some exploratory drilling in our arctic waters. Global warming is already a major treat to this very sensitive and ecologically unique area. A study done to model the effects of an oil spill in the Beaufort Sea showed that an oil spill in that area could even worsen the effect of climate change. After seeing what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico, do we even need further evidence to show how dangerous drilling the the arctic could be? With pack ice shifting around, the dangers are too great.

Here’s the article in the Vancouver Sun that brought this to my attention. I haven’t looked into this issue as much as the Enbridge one, I’m sure there’s lot of more information out there. I was just so stressed about the idea of more drilling I needed to get this post up. Our threatened arctic needs all the help it can get. Do you trust our oil-hungry government to protect it?

The Pope says “No”, Carolyn says “Yes”

avatar hometreeI saw Avatar on the weekend. First, it was awesome. Second, it made me think about the tar sands. That’s right, I’m not switching to the more friendly ‘oil sands’. I’m not helping them spiff up their image.

Now, Mr. Military Man is very obviously the bad guy. And he’s pretty bad. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who saw the movie and didn’t describe him as evil.

However, there are many, many of these people in real life. You might even know one. Any oil company exec, and I’d wager a lot of mining company execs, logging company execs and probably a fair chunk of politicians, would fall into the role of Mr. Evil Military Man. They see something in the Earth that they want, and they take it. They leave nothingness in their wake. Barren land.

I’m not saying that these people would knowing kill people and destroy ancient sites like in the movie. But they have seen the reports about the damage occurring to our ecosystems and what that could mean for our planet. They know what we’re facing and they ignore the urgency.

Currently if we just stopped the tar sands, mining and logging, we’d be in a bit of a pinch. However, just because it’s in the ground, doesn’t mean we have to take it out! Oil companies have a lot of lobbying power and can influence government decisions on funding to projects like alternative energy (have you seen Who Killed the Electric Car?). tar sandsThese people need to let progress happen. They need to make an effort to put their own resources into alternatives to the tar sands.

Just think what that could do to their image! They might make a few less billions of dollars for a while, but there’s a lot of economic potential in alternative energy. A progressive thinking oil exec…it could be a revolution.