Unlike other countries, weddings in India are celebrated with much aplomb and festivities, where a nuptial isn’t just about two individuals who wish to spend the rest of lives together but is more like the union of two families.
Amidst all the celebrations and the extravagant spending, we have to admit that a lot of wastage occurs during a wedding, regarding food, utensils and decorations that are more often than not, unsustainable, and detrimental to the environment.
In a bid to cut down on such ways of celebrating one of the most important occasions of their lives, many couples have consciously begun to approach the concept of Zero-waste weddings and are going the extra mile.
While the trend is catching up, a concern that deters most would-be couples is the fact that going waste-free might be a bit heavy on their pockets or that the ceremony wouldn’t be as enjoyable as its regular version.
Putting an end to all such concerns are two best friends from Chennai, who not so long ago decided to embrace sustainable practices after being severely frustrated by our wasteful and consumerist lifestyles.
They embarked on a journey to find a relatable, accessible and affordable sustainable way of living.
Sudarshana and Veena are National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) graduates, who consciously chose to make the switch in their own lives last year and in the process, inspire others as well.
When Veena decided to get married last month, the first thought that came to their minds was, “We want to change how weddings work in India, without actually changing what makes a wedding work in India.”
Speaking to The Better India, Sudarshana says, “Weddings are a beautiful occasion where friends and family come together to spread love and joy. Without taking anything away from the event, we wanted to find alternatives to every process so that this positivity spreads beyond the venue and, even after the day ends.”
And how they did this is something that would make us all consider going zero-waste for our weddings too.
Starting from e-invites and an eco-friendly venue on the shores of ECR to sourcing out native seasonal flowers from farmers along with organic and reusable decorations, Veena and Vignesh’s wedding employed some awesome initiatives.
Instead of splurging on expensive wedding costumes and jewellery that probably would never be worn again, the bride chose to don the legacy of her grandmother on her special day—the very same saree that Veena’s grandmother wore for her wedding 50 years ago!
Also, in place of long-drawn ceremonies stretching over many days, their wedding consisted just one short ceremony that utilised minimum disposable plastics and eliminated the practice of boxed gifts by requesting guests to instead donate to non-profit organisations.
“Instead of single-use plastic cutlery, we opted for steel jugs and glasses, banana leaves and areca plates. We also came up with the idea of distributing excess food to the needy, but we didn’t want it to appear like leftovers. For which, the caterer came aboard and agreed to cook additional meals that we would distribute along with remaining food,” says Sudharshana.
And for food distribution, they teamed up Robinhood Army, a renowned non-profit organisation that routes surplus food from restaurants to the less fortunate sections of society in cities across India and 12 other countries.
Another organisation that helped the event manage its organic waste was Restore, a non-profit direct-from farmer organic shop.
“While all the vegetable waste was turned to pulp and all the used banana leaves, areca plates and rolling paper routed to a compost pit, the flowers were turned to garden fertilisers and later distributed to colonies in Thiruvanmiyur, and the guests were given ‘thank you’ cards made out of seed paper,” Sudarshana explained.
Our favourite, however, was the unique gift that the guests were given—a scrub made out of filter coffee collected from local cafés, packed in old paper wrapping!
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The entire wedding was documented by their friend, Yash Suda, and the video closes with these motivational words:
We promise, we did not compromise on the sanctity, fun or the happiness shared during the wedding. By adopting simple mindful choices, we created a day that would be remembered for being compassionate and empathetic towards the Earth and our society. If we could, so can you. WE URGE YOU TO.
Having practised what they preached, the duo now aims to help those who wish to adopt sustainable lifestyle choices but don’t know how and where to start, through their awareness and consultancy venture, ‘two’s company’.
“Besides helping people how to adopt a sustainable lifestyle, we are also working on launching an e-commerce platform that would provide people with all forms of alternatives to plastic articles that have become such indispensable parts of our world. Though such models are already present, we aim to find options falling under the same price bracket as that of plastic counterparts,” Sudarshana concludes.
You can see how Veena and Vignesh made their wedding a day to remember in a video here:
You can reach out to these folks at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at 9840647242.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)