The Wedding Circus

When KING OF POP, Michael Jackson crooned Let’s heal the world, he had rightly set the rhythm for the future. The wedding business can learn from his lyrics and turn a new leaf with eco-friendly celebrations.

For the uninitiated, almost one crore Indian weddings take place in a year and out of this rather imposing number, 80% are Hindu celebrations. That’s why it is no surprise, this sector is increasing by 25- 30% per year, and is worth ₹1,00,000 crores. Here’s a fun fact most don’t know. Almost one-fi fth of a person’s income goes into wedding expenses. In a country where more than 65% of the population is under the age of 35, and girls want, a dream event with all the bells and whistles! What’s changing now is some have developed a conscience and want to act on it, which shows a move towards making the world a better place.

What’s astonishing is that even among the educated, few ponder over how much waste it generates, as brides are consumed by the need for the perfect lehenga, jewellery, hunting for the right makeup artist and of course, the guest list. In this mélange, almost 943 tonnes of quality food is wasted at weddings per year, worth up to ₹339 crores. Statistics indicate, in a wedding, 10-15 percent of food is wasted, a minimum 30-50 kilos and a maximum 800 kilos. And the travesty is 40% of the food produced goes awry and never reaches the needy.

But wait..that’s not all. Food and décor are the major parts of this calamity. That’s where a little soul comes in—eco-friendly weddings. The food can be given to those who need it, thanks to forward thinking NGOs like the Robinhood Army, and now the décor can be recycled into delightful useables as well.

In a world where self comes first for almost everybody, there are soulful organisations like ‘Help us Green’, run by Kanpur-based Ankit Agarwal and Karan Rastogi, since 2015. They pick up flower waste and recycle them into soaps and incense sticks. About 300-400 kilos of wasted fl owers are being processed in a week by them in an effort to save the planet. And, of course, the wonderful team at ‘21 Fools’, who work with seed paper, making wedding invites, coasters and calendars. Divyanshu Sopa, the founder of the Mumbai and Jaipur-based company, admits more and more couples want a digital invite, but if families insist they can opt for a physical one, made of seed paper.

The paper is made of cotton and seeds and it takes about 3-4 days to make it and the printing takes a day. It grows into diff erent plants. Seed paper invites are comparatively cheaper than paper invites because they use screen-printing. You can simply throw it in the soil, and voila! It will grow into a plant in just 10 days.

Though there is so much we can do to make the wedding industry truly a responsible one, like giving apparel designers waste cloth, which can be used for pillow or mattress stuffing. That’s not all. There is the option of disposable paper plates made out of palm leaves, and for the enlightened, wooden plates too! It depends how far you are willing to go to make a distinctive change. Décor has taken the road less travelled with some couples opting for bamboo sticks used for lighting, jute for potlis, chalkboards for announcements, old kettles or glass bottles as decorative items as well as terracotta pots for an earthy feel.

You may wonder how easy or difficult is it to organise eco-friendly weddings? Well, the answer really lies in your will. You have to put in a lot of effort to make sure that nothing you’re using is harming the environment. If it is paper napkins, they should be recycled; if you are putting flowers in a pot, then use a mud pot and not plastic. For lighting too, opt for LED lights as they consume less energy. Slowly and gradually, the world, to survive, will have to think from the head, not heart, and sustainability will be the buzzword.

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