Malibu and Mariachis, Summer 2005
GREEN WEDDINGS AND CHARITABLE GIVING
(SUSTAINABLE AND SOCIALLY-CONSCIOUS WEDDING VENDORS AND IDEAS)
- Green Wedding Vendors
- Charitable Giving
Green Wedding Vendors
- Angelica's Green Weddings Angelica Weihs is the sort of gentle and soulful person you'd expect to find behind Green Weddings, an event-planning service that is conscious of the environmental impacts of a "traditional" wedding. Not only will you enjoy the lovely details she'll provide for your event, you can find great links to green wedding vendors and earth-friendly products on her website; check out the hemp bridal fabrics, environmentally responsible rental vehicles, and organic caterers and florists. Call her at 323.953.0453 or email her by clicking here.
Weddings It's about time someone offered recycled invitations, environmentally-friendly favors, and eco-tourism resources all in one place! It's all that (as they say) and so much more. Being gentle to the Earth is a good way to share the love, so check it out.
- Sweatshops.Org Does it bother you to know that your fabulous designer wedding dress might have been made with sweatshop or child labor? If so, then Co-Op America has made it simple for you to find out if you're wearing a dress that's not completely filled with happiness. You can see on their website what retailers have sweatshops in their supply chain, send emails to help end the practice, and find fair-trade businesses that pay a living wage and treat their workers like humans; it's very little effort to make a big difference in many lives.
- A Thousand Petals/Michelle Tomyuk Michelle is a sweet and smart person and her designs are just like her. Not only does she create lovely floral art, but she teaches private classes in floral arranging and conducts her business in a "green" fashion--that is, by composting, recycling packaging, and minimizing the use of harmful chemicals (rife in much of the florist industry, though they'd prefer you not to think about it.) Call 310.455.7023 or 805.905.7077 and tell her MarriageToGo sent you.
- GreenKarat.Com: Ecologically Responsible Jewelry These days it's important to seek sustainability in everything we do; even weddings have gone "green" with recycled paper invites, organic catering, and hybrid limos. But what about the most famous wedding icon, the wedding ring? Well, now you can green that too (after a manner of speaking) by buying a ring of recycled gold or other material from GreenKarat. Recycled metals reduce mining, pollution, and the carbon footprint; via GreenKarat's partnership with GreenAssay, you can learn about the ecological profile of your purchase. 800.330.4605 (US & Canada) An MTG client recommendation.
- Brilliant Earth Conflict-Free Diamond Jewelry We've all heard about the suffering caused by diamond mining in third-world countries and it's not unusual for a bride or groom to have a tinge of guilt when buying a typical diamond ring. You can avoid being conflicted about your rings by checking out Brilliant Earth's custom conflict-free diamond rings, ethically-sourced sapphires, and recycled gold and platinum offerings. Learn more at their website or call 800.691.0952.
- Ghalia Organic Desserts
Yum! You can have a healthy, pretty, organic cake and eat it too! Ghalia offers not only cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, and tarts made with organic ingredients, but can accommodate special dietary needs as well (sugar-free, dairy-free, wheat-free and the like.) The presentation is also delightful; we had the pleasure of sampling cupcakes served in flowerpots with a seed favor hidden underneath. The cupcakes were delicious, the guests were delighted, and no flowerpots were consumed. Call 310.351.7870 or email via the site.
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In many cultures it's customary to acknowledge on a wedding day that, even in our happiness, the world is full of those in need. Many couples ask guests to contribute to a favorite charity instead of giving gifts; some couples choose to make donations on behalf of their guests as wedding favors. Here are a few organizations that we've worked with; you can also go to Charity Navigator to not only choose a charity by region and type, but also see how they rate in effectiveness and expenditures.
- The I Do Foundation "Celebrate Generously" is the tagline for the I Do Foundation, which marries getting married with charitable giving in a number of ways: you can register for wedding gifts with a company that will donate a percentage of the proceeds, make charitable donations as wedding favors for each of your guests, or create a "charity registry" where your guests can donate to your favorite charity in lieu of gifts (face it, you don't need another pickle dish.) Other features on their website include tips on eco-friendly weddings, travel, and etiquette for the socially-conscious pair, and more.
I like the idea of the I Do Foundation, but be advised that they are not a non-profit and they take a significant percentage off the top to process your donation--far more than some other websites. However, the notion of charitable giving is a fine one, and I encourage you to donate to an organization with a five-star rating from Guidestar, an organization that rates non-profits on their donation efficiency.
- CoachArt.Org I met CoachArt's program director Ashley Fontanetta at the local adventure store picking up camping equipment for a weekend trek with CoachArt clients; CoachArt's mission is to improve the quality of life for underprivileged kids and adolescents with chronic and life-threatening illnesses by providing free, personal lessons in the arts and athletics. They have a small staff but service hundreds of sick kids and their well siblings in L.A. County; 100% privately funded, so your cash donations mean a lot--fully tax-deductible, of course. Want to open your heart to by giving piano lessons or coaching soccer work-outs, or by conducting a drive to collect needed sports equipment, art supplies, cameras, and musical instruments? Check out their website to donate and find out how to get involved, or call 213.736.2850 (and tell Ashley I said hi!)
- TreePeople For thirty years Andy Lipkis has been planting urban forests in L.A. to help the environment and improve our quality of life; now TreePeople's influence and ideas are being felt internationally (Andy recently went to China to discuss sustainability strategies.) TreePeople continues to green our city in big ways; they're a key part of the Million Trees Initiative and their Fruit Trees to Combat Hunger program distributes free trees to underserved areas. For a cash donation you can dedicate a tree in honor of friends or family, or you can grab your bridal party and volunteer for a tree-planting. I love their tree care classes, the monthly full-moon hikes are a blast, and afternoon walks in serene Coldwater Canyon Park (the location of TreePeople Headquarters) are highly recommended. Planting a tree--just like getting married--is a gesture of hope for our collective future, so call or email to start putting down some roots now. 818.753.4600.
- Food On Foot Food On Foot is one man's response to the hunger he witnessed among the poor and homeless of Hollywood; Jay Goldinger now coordinates weekly food-and-clothing distribution events that serve hundreds of people. Their innovative "Work for Food" self-sufficiency program gives the homeless hope as well as food; you can contribute money online or volunteer at their feeding locations in Venice and Hollywood. We had the great honor of donating a wedding for two "Work for Food" members on Christmas Day 2006 (if the picture's still on the website, that's me and my little green hat on the right--my fifteen pixels of fame.) We hope you'll find time to lend a hand, too. Email email@example.com to get started.
- Under The Bridges And On The Streets This volunteer group was initially formed by followers of Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, but is open to anyone who wants to volunteer or contribute. Under The Bridges makes hundreds of lunches every month and distributes them to those living on the streets. They also provide blankets, clothes, and toiletries on a regular basis, and during the holiday season they prepare and deliver cookies and toys to indigent kids at the County-USC and Children's Hospitals. You can contact Laxman Das at 310.657.7098 for info about donating some sandwich-making time or where to send a check--and hey, if you order a your wedding cake from Cake Divas , do remember to thank them for contributing their brownies to the UTB lunchbags.
- L.A. Homeless Services Coalition An estimated 80,000 people sleep on the streets in L.A. every night; The Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition was founded June of 2005 and since then has raised over two million dollars to build new shelters in Los Angeles, specifically benefiting homeless women and children. LAHSC has joined together multiple agencies pledged to build awareness of the growing epidemic and raise resources to effect permanent long term change; they need donations of volunteer time, advocacy skills, and of course money. Read up on the website and call 310.474.0222 to find out how you can help.
- America's Second Harvest If the thought of throwing away all those extra dinners after your celebration tweaks your conscience, you can donate that food to a food-rescue organization in your area. What is food rescue? That's when an organization picks up perishable food--unlike a food bank, where they collect shelf-stable food--and deliver it to an agency that can serve it right away while it's still fresh. How do I find a food rescue program, you ask? America's Second Harvest has an extensive on-line network of over 200 food banks and food-rescue programs so you can easily make arrangements for pick-up after your wedding (your local soup kitchen can also refer you to food rescue programs.) 800.771.2303
- The Westside Food Bank's "Extra Helpings" Program specializes in perishable food donations; they'll put any leftover food from your wedding to good use in our local community. Email or call program director Allison ahead of time to find out how easy it is to donate food that would otherwise go to waste, and give her my best (oh, you get a tax credit, too.) 310.828.6016 x12
- Christine Pelisek's List of Twenty-Six L.A. Food Banks from her L.A. Weekly Zeitlist article comes in handy if you'd like to search for food banks by area.
- The National Arbor Day Foundation The Arbor Day Foundation plants millions of trees a year, and you and your wedding can help! Donate in honor of each of your guests to further their mission to reforest devastated areas, or buy trees, coffee, or other gifts via their website for wedding favors. Join the foundation for ten bucks and get ten free trees--such a deal. They always need volunteers to help plant trees, too--grab your friends and have a bridal shovel instead of a bridal shower! You'll be improving the environment and helping new life flourish--Mother Earth will appreciate your kindness. Visit the website for listings of local opportunities.
- Heal The Bay Romantic weddings on our beautiful Westside beaches are very popular, but most people don't realize that not so long ago Santa Monica Bay stank with barely-treated sewage sludge and the dolphins were full of tumors. The situation is greatly improved these days because of the grassroots efforts and determination of Heal The Bay; you can learn more about the Bay on their website, make a donation, or buy some Heal The Bay beach towels from their online store as useful favors for the attendees of your Malibu wedding. You'll be giving a little bit to help preserve and care for the natural beauty of your ceremony site, and the dolphins will thank you. 310.453.0395 to donate or become a Heal The Bay member.
- Los Angeles Regional Food Bank For 30 years the L.A. Regional Food Bank has been mobilizing food resources on behalf of the County's hungry and food insecure, currently feeding 350,000 people per week. Over 1.4 million people in the L.A. area alone have insufficient access to food, and many of those affected are children. You can donate online or by phone, or volunteer your bridal party for a day of food-sorting or food drive assistance. 323.234.3030.
- Project Angel Food Project Angel Food prepares nutritious food with love for those with HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses. You can help by preparing meals or donating online or by phone. You can also check out "The Angel Mercantile" online store to buy gifts; proceeds fund the Project Angel Food mission. 323.845.1800
- JustGive.Org The JustGive Guide includes over 1,000 registered charities to which you can contribute with the click of a mouse! You can set up an online Wedding Registry to make it easy for your wedding guests to contribute to the charities of your choice, or why not buy each guest a Charity Gift Certificate to redeem as a donation to their favorite charity?
- Frontline Foundation For almost 20 years the Frontline Foundation has been feeding people year-round on Skid Row. Started by actor Ray Castellani after regaining his own sobriety, this scrappy local organization has managed to stay alive by keeping its overhead low and relying on resolve and community donations. They always need cash, food, and volunteers to keep the program alive; you can donate online with a credit card, get info on holding a food drive, or purchase aromatherapy "Candles that Care" as wedding favors and gifts via their website. We were gifted with some of these candles; they are well-made, attractively packaged, and the entire purchase price goes to benefit Frontline. Share the light! Check out their three-foot tall candles--that's a Unity Candle you can keep for a looong time.
- Making Memories--Brides Against Breast Cancer Here's a unique and heartfelt way to get the most out of your wedding dress: donate it to Brides Against Breast Cancer for their annual "Nationwide Tour of Gowns." New and pre-owned gowns are sold to raise money to grant the wishes of terminal breast cancer patients; cash donations are also gratefully accepted. Check out their website for show dates if you want to buy a gown or be an event volunteer; you can find out how your business can help grant a wish for a Making Memories client, too. Call them in Portland OR for more info: 503.307.5600.
- Finally: if you need more non-profits to consider, check out
Jami Supsic's L.A. Weekly List of Ten Really Good Charities That Can Use Your Help which offers some additional ideas for your charitable giving, including the Society for the Preventions of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles chapter, School On Wheels (providing tutors for homeless students) and Operation Hero Miles, a government program where you can donate your unused frequent-flyer miles to help U.S. soldiers get home.
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