Have you heard of the EPiC Sustainable Living Fair? It’s on my list as one of the most inspiring and meaningful events I’ve attended this year! EPiC, which stands for Ethical Progressive Intelligent Consumer, is an exhibition for showing consumers how to live a more sustainable yet still stylish modern lifestyle. I was very glad I had the chance to attend this exhibition and delve into the products and services on display by the more than 300 organizations represented, ranging across a variety of industries including Fair Trade Foods, business, technology, fashion and beauty and more.
My first impression at EPiC? Imagine a huge old fashioned carriage covered in white paint; one worthy of Cinderella. That was what first caught my eye when I entered the spacious Vancouver Convention Centre venue. Yes, the carriage grabbed my attention and led me directly to the Green Wedding section!
The whole atmosphere was romantic and fresh with colors of white and green. So what does a green wedding mean? Does a sustainable wedding mean the bride must recycle her dress and exchange vows with her groom out in the mountains? The answers to my questions started to become clearer as I began looking around the different booths.
My first stop, of course, was a wedding dress vendor! The brand label I noticed was called Pure Magnolia, which apparently makes eco-friendly wedding gowns. Now here were some eco-friendly concepts displayed in gown designs that I’d never heard of! The secret lies in the fabric the designer uses. Some examples include: silk charmeuse which is taken from high end lingerie shops and therefore is considered newly re-usable goods, and dupioni silk organza which is sheer fabric made out of raw silk! Yes, raw silk where the silk worms that create the silk were actually able to live after producing their silk!
Christina Hidalgo, sister of Pure Magnolia’s designer Patty Nayel, is also the owner of a jewelry store called Spark. Hidalgo was she was at the Spark booth to chat about her ethics behind making recycled jewelleries. She uses a special kind of silver called Argentium silver which comes from recycled garbage, such as computer e-waste! 85% of the gold she uses is recycled with the remaining amount coming from American mines. Another important factor to mention is that not only does she make wedding jewelry, but all of her jewelry are hand-made and the cute packaging is made from 100% pre-consumer waste gift bags; she even designs her packages with her sister’s extra fabrics from wedding gowns.
After looking at wedding sparkles, I moved on to the next table where I saw an extensive collection of beautiful wedding pictures and wondered what this booth was about. It turned out to be a boutique photo service named 4-everLuv that does environmentally-friendly wedding photo shoots. I had a good conversation with the owner and the studio assistant about their perception of a green wedding and they shared a story about two of their clients, Joy and Scott. They had their green wedding hosted in Stanley Park, Vancouver (very green indeed). Scott proposed the idea of using aesthetically designed recyclable cups at the ceremony, instead of using wine glasses that are traditional for special occasions (but also easily breakable and not that environmentally-friendly). I saw a beautiful photo of the couple under a locally hand-made organic arch. The arch was both grandiose in its size and also in the diversity of plants and flowers incorporated in it. My curiosity about the arch led me to my next booth—Olla Wedding bouquets and flowers!
Olla is the shop that made the plant arch for Joy and Scott’s wedding. Not only does Olla get their flowers from local, urban greenhouses or farms, but they actually have their own eco-friendly project called “The Olla Urban Flower Project”, with the goal to “create socially-conscious arrangements and living containers.” And there’s more to what they do than just sourcing the flowers from local farms, the flowers and bouquets used for events and ceremonies such as weddings are actually re-collected and distributed to downtown eastside (DTES) local charities. The shop actually provides job opportunities for the DTES community along with providing monthly workshops at their building on flower design and how to embrace greener lifestyles. So, being green doesn’t always require the consumer to go plant flowers themselves, but supporting organizations like Olla that do eco-friendly deeds helps contribute to more sustainable living.
There are of course more deep and diverse interpretations in understanding of what a green wedding is. What I learned from this event is that a green wedding has no single definition or guideline. Even having one small part of a wedding being environmentally friendly could contribute to a greener wedding.
Having a green wedding can also be an economically smart choice, as ‘green’ jewelry, decorations, and dresses are often more affordable (the cost of a conventionally made customized gown can go up to around $2000; and a designer wedding dress could go up to $15,000!). Small steps do make a big difference collectively. If you think about it that way, it’s not so hard to lead a greener life. The next big question lies in HOW green do you want it?!