Wedding Day Thoughts: Keeping the Environment in Mind
In planning our wedding this past summer, I looked through hundreds, yes hundreds, of photos.  I’ve been to my fair share of weddings, but they were all fairly traditional.  This was my first (and only) marriage.  The one thing I didn’t want was a cookie cutter wedding.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been to many that are beautifully, well played orchestras.  However, this is not my style.  I’m a treehugger, and crunchy by nature.  I’m also sentimental and wanted to incorporate certain aspects of my childhood into the wedding.  I have a spider web of a family – I’m an only child but I have seven half brothers and sisters, from several different marriages.  Trust me, it made for planning a wedding very interesting.  The point of all of this is that I didn’t want to compromise my values and beliefs to have a “cool kid” wedding.  Let alone, have something that didn’t portray my personal style. So, I hit the internet and became a research junkie.  I saw the good, the bad and the ugly.  And then there was the ultimate green sin… but it was subtle.  Sure, we all know you shouldn’t use disposable plates (or even compostable ones – ask me why), try to limit your printing, and when you do print, try to print on recycled paper with soy ink, buy a used or upcycled dress, the list goes on.  But what about flat out littering? I often wonder if it was really thought out, if anyone ever really gave it much thought.  But why in the world would you give everyone a big shiny balloon to release in the sky?  Now, I know this may not be at your wedding, but trust me, I have seen far more pictures of “littered” balloons at weddings than you might think.  And it makes me wonder, where are the police?  Why aren’t they there issuing tickets for such a crime?  Because in some states (such as here in Oregon), you can serve some serious jail time for littering.  Oh wait!  You just thought that balloons disappeared?  Evaporated?  Blew up into thin air? Floated off into outer space to continue to circle the earth indefinitely with the rest of our space junk?

wedding balloons released into the air

Well, folks, I have news for you, those stupid balloons you release that you think are so cool end up somewhere.  They end up in our oceans, in our water systems, and countless other places.  How do I know this? Funny you should ask.  In the spring of 2010 I went on a tour of where Portland’s water comes from.  It is pristine land, protected, and I couldn’t find even one cigarette butt on the property.  No one but official workers (or those on tour) are allowed on the property.  It’s as secure as Fort Knox.  It was beautiful… and clean.  Except for a mylar balloon I saw floating in the Bull Run River — the source of Portland’s water.  No joke.

mylar balloon at Portland Water Bureau

What’s the point of the story?  Brides-to-be, wedding planners, friends of friends getting married… please, rethink the possibility of using balloons at your wedding.  Ever since I saw the balloon in our protected water shed, they’ve moved to the top of my “list”.  I can’t give you an alternative.  I mean, do you really need to release anything?  Maybe your inhibitions and just go crazy on the dance floor instead.  Just try to think about the environment… just for a moment. {image credits: photo’s 1 and 2 both by Olivia Leigh Photographie}

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