Carbon offsetting is for everyone - not just for large events like WOMADelaide or the Sydney Mardi Gras. Being upfront and proud about carbon offsetting your wedding is a great way to showcase climate leadership to your closest friends and family - everyone who has gathered to witness and celebrate your nuptials. It’s surprisingly simple to do and here’s a bonus – its also surprisingly affordable! (And if you really don't need gifts, it's an excellent way to do some good. And double gift.)CARBON OFFSETTING IS A SIMPLE. BASICALLY YOU OBTAIN A CREDIT FOR THE REDUCTION OF THE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS PRODUCED BY YOUR WEDDING BY BUYING CARBON CREDITS. THESE CARBON CREDITS ARE PURCHASED FROM APPROVED BUSINESSES WHO INVEST IN CARBON REDUCTION OR CARBON POSITIVE SCHEMES LIKE REFORESTATION PROJECTS, RENEWABLE ENERGY SCHEMES SUCH AS WIND, SOLAR AND HYDRO-POWER, OR EVEN ON-FARM METHANE CAPTURE AND A MYRIAD OF HEATING AND ENERGY PROJECTS IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES.
Some skeptics to carbon offsetting, such as Sharon Beder from the University of Wollongong say the practice is a bit of a ‘get out of jail free card’ reinforcing already environmentally harmful consumer practices, with an easy escape at the end. That’s something to bear in mind if you find yourself at an extremely extravagant and wasteful event flouting its offset carbon footprint. And there are many who say that about flying. (ie: We should fly less and not need to offset so much - especially on Qantas.)Think about how your whole streamlined wedding is going to sing eco-friendliness through the entire ceremony and reception. The more eco your wedding or event, the more you contribute to positive emissions in your offsets, so be as sincere in your desire to reduce your event's carbon footprint as you are in purchasing carbon offsets.
If you are looking to achieve the uber-cool status of carbon neutrality or, even better to be carbon positive, you need to calculate your event’s projected emissions. It is important to first aim to reduce unnecessary emissions as much as possible. Then you simply offset what you can't reduce by purchasing carbon credits equivalent to the remaining emissions.
Of all the aspects of your wedding that will add to your carbon footprint, there are three biggies:
The various activities of the number of guests attending,
the number of air and car travel kilometres of guests and service providers,
and the number of nights any wedding attendees stay in accommodation.
Once you know how many people are coming, you can enter your info into one of the numerous carbon calculators you can access online, such as Carbon Neutral, who have a Australian carbon calculator for events.
Everything. You can offset everything. People, travel and accommodation are the big ones, but you can also calculate and offset everything - the amount of paper you use, the types of meals you serve, the volume of alcohol poured - whatever you want. If you are serving a Climatarian type meal, while that's less carbon than meat, it still has emissions.
Choosing imported cut flowers is going to blow your carbon footprint out simply for the air miles. Holding your reception indoors is going to attach more HVAC energy to your footprint. Additionally there will be carbon emissions involved in your big day that you simply weren’t aware of, so you can even throw in an additional amount of suspected CO2 credit to cover all bases, perhaps add a percentage – your choice. For example, the carbon emissions involved in the production of products used at your wedding – not just the getting them to your wedding part – can be factored in as well and covered.
Armed with your carbon offset standards guide, you can then decide upon who to buy your carbon credits from - which carbon offsetter. (Who you choose is something you can share with guest and is another aspect of greening your wedding that can add individuality.) Different offsetters focus on different activities.
How do you know the carbon offset will actually be effective?
Carbon offset funds are heavily regulated. The Verified Carbon Standard is an international standard that ensures carbon reductions meet quality standards and are independently verified, numbered and listed in a central database.
Even the most eco-friendliest of weddings will leave a carbon footprint. So after all the planning to minimize, you can feel happy knowing that even the smallest footprint can be offset. And that you achieved all you could to do that.
Anything you are reducing, reusing and recycling at your event means you are limiting offsets and inviting eco to your wedding. Reducing waste is easy with real glassware that can be washed, invitations can be emailed rather than printed and posted but if tradition is important ensure recycled carbon neutral paper is being used or ask your bff, mother or grandmother if you can wear their wedding dress instead of buying a new one.
Fifteen Trees have a formula to make it very simple. They suggest you plant one tree per wedding guest and one tree per hour ‘in the air’ for flights to and from your wedding. Trees are purchased from Australian nurseries, are indigenous and planted by Australian community groups. They cost $4.80 each.
And one last thing: Don’t forget the honeymoon – apply your eco-lens to the carbon footprint of that event too and offset accordingly. There are many excellent eco destinations and downtown hotels like The Alto in cbd Melbourne who are a certified, sustainable hotel.