Eco-Friendly Wedding part 1

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By Megan Collamati

Picture your dream wedding. Notice the lights and decorations, polished tables, countless flower buds, threads crafting the dresses and suits, and supportive guests. You can customize those details with the 3 R’s in mind: reduce, reuse, recycle. The food industry is beginning to do the same. Many restaurants and catering companies are becoming sustainable by minimizing food waste, using biodegradable goods and sourcing local food to help support a healthy environment and, contrary to popular belief, a healthy wallet.

The Journal of Culinary Science and Technology states that the average wedding accumulates 400-600 pounds of garbage and emits 66 tons of CO2, primarily from food waste and transportation. Some local caterers source from nearby farms, fisheries, breweries and vineyards. Receiving cheese and charcuterie from all over New England, Amelia Wilson from Grapes and Gourmet in Jamestown, focuses on local farms like Grafton Village Cheese in Vermont, Grey Barn on Martha’s Vineyard, and Narragansett Creamery in Providence. “It feels good to support local businesses,” Wilson says. Other Newport County dairy farms Sweet & Salty Farm, Simmons Farm, and Escobar Farm would also be a great resource. Tourists explore Newport County for its rocky cliffs, lighthouses and local food and drink. You can provide wedding attendees a taste of sustainable Newport by sourcing from local vineyards and breweries.
With a cooler dedicated to local beer and wine, Wilson encourages customers to buy in large formats, like kegs and large wine bottles. “Less material equals less waste,” she says, “it is more cost effective.” The incentive: returned, unopened bottles are refunded to the customer and reused. One half barrel keg yields 165 beer cans.

What guests drink out of is key to hosting a sustainable wedding. Besides glass, there are numerous alternatives to plastic. Fabri-Kal Greenware makes eco-friendly drinking cups and food containers made from plants. Brides and grooms can request the caterer not use plastic cocktail straws. “The Last Plastic Straw Challenge” is a global movement for bars and restaurants to give out straws only on request. The goal is to eliminate plastic pollution, considering the United States uses 500 million straws per day. Eco-Products offers 100 percent plant-based, compostable and affordable straws, that are making a bold appearance into local bars and coffee shops. Other eco-friendly brands, available online in bulk, offer alternative options such as cardboard, metal, or bamboo straws. These also make great wedding favors!

John Edick, owner and general manager of Blackstone Caterers, is one of many catering company owners who guides his customers towards native food to reduce CO2 emissions from shipments. If a customer wants seafood, Edick suggests North Atlantic natives like cod, swordfish and lobster. Same goes for produce. “In the fall, tomatoes and corn make for fresher, better and more cost-effective [choices],” Edick says.

Having zero leftovers isn’t as tricky as it seems. Supplying guests with to-go boxes by Greenware and Earth Wise Tree Farm, online brands that offer compostable silverware, napkins and to-go containers, helps minimize food waste. “When we leave the property, everything comes back to the shop,” Edick says. Any edible and uncooked ingredients from an event are used to cook employee lunches, whereas, the cooked and served food is packaged and sent to pig farmers. You can also take recycling matters into your own hands by filling up a compost bin for your garden, or donating scraps to Earth Care Farms in Charlestown, RI. Donating to local food pantries like the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, is a great way to give back to community members in need.

All  images of food and drink from Blackstone Caterers

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