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Tips for an Eco-Friendly Simcha

Planning a simcha, such as a wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, or bris, offers many opportunities to make an environmental impact.  Every choice you make in planning your event can be a chance to make a statement about the importance of respecting and preserving God’s creation, the Earth.

Here are some ideas of ways to reduce waste as you prepared for the big day.

Reduce paper use:  Consider using the Internet for all or some of your announcements about your event.  Invitations can be sent electronically.  RSVPs also can be sent to a specially designated email address rather than by using a pre-printed card.  If you prefer to use a printed invitation, use recycled unbleached paper and soy-based ink.  For a wedding or B’nai Mitzvah, consider creating your own app and/or website with information on where to stay and what to do for out of town guests, rather than printing this information.

Be eco-friendly in your decor:  Use real china plates and reusable cups and glassware, rather than items you throw away.  If you are considering flowers, order those locally grown and in season, rather than buying from a florist who will order items flown from far away.  Another alternative is to decorate with plants, which can be kept and planted or re-potted after the event.  Make your own centerpieces from recycled items.

Food:  Where possible, use a caterer who relies on locally sourced, organic food. Consider purchasing fair trade coffee and tea for the reception.  Find out if it is possible for food waste to be composted. For pre-wrapped items, such as bagels or sandwiches, do not open unused wrapped food unless or until needed.  Unused wrapped food can be donated to area food pantries if not eaten, reducing waste and helping those in need.

Energy use:  Hold the ceremony and reception at the same location or have the events at locations not far from one another, to reduce travel and minimize gas use.  Encourage your guests to carpool to your event.

Enjoy your eco-friendly simcha!

Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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