If you’re not familiar with the term, a Carbon Footprint is the sum of all emissions of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, caused by an organization, event, product or person in a given time frame. So, to what areas of your wedding does this apply? The most obvious, and most commonly calculated, are the number of guests you will have, air and car travel miles & the number of nights you and your guests will stay in a hotel.
Great sites like Carbonfund.org and Terrapass have wedding carbon footprint calculators, making it easy for you to see the impact your big day will have and also offer the option to purchase “carbon offsets”.
This great Green Bride Guide calculator gives you a quick, simple calculation and another that allows you to add more detail.
What are carbon offsets and how do they work? Well, a carbon offset is simply a credit for reduction in those greenhouse gas emissions produced by your wedding. When calculating your footprint, you are given a number in tons of CO2 and what the cost is to offset it. This dollar amount provides funding for projects like renewable energy (wind, solar and hydropower) and methane removal.
Surprisingly, these credits are incredibly affordable. Using Carbonfund.org’ s calculator, a wedding that will have 150 guests, 15 guests flying an average of 1000 miles one way, 75 cars traveling an average of 50 miles and 50 nights (2 nights per 25 guests) at an upscale hotel (which typically uses more energy) will have an offset cost of $102.40. Not bad for approximately 10.24 tons of CO2!
Again, most calculators stick to the basics but, don’t forget that many aspects of your wedding, beyond travel & accommodations, increase that carbon footprint. Are you choosing to have those beautiful, out of season floral arrangements that need to be shipped to your florist? Is your reception being held indoors or outside? What will your dinner menu include (more on this in our next blog post!)? What items (stationery, for example) will be left over and thrown away? Consider increasing your offset credit amount to ensure that you are covering at least some of these details.
Even the greenest of weddings will leave behind its own footprint. But as you can see, it’s simple enough to calculate and financially feasible to offset, helping you reduce the impact on our environment!
Lisa Marie Blinn is the owner and principal planner of L. Marie Events.