Climate change

Clear shift in attitudes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am

A wedding theme sets the tone for the day and reflects the bride and groom's personalities. It can also be an opportunity for a couple to act on any particular principles they have.

Green weddings are gaining momentum, with couples opting for alternatives that will reduce the negative impact to the environment. There's a shift in attitudes in Hong Kong too, with brides and grooms increasingly mindful of the effect their nuptials may have.

Gillian Lai, business and sustainability consultant at Carbon Care Asia, says couples are more concerned about climate change and sustainability issues and are keen to address them when they're planning their wedding.

'Their main environmental concerns are resource conservation, sustainability of food source, as well as energy consumption during the wedding,' Lai says. A green wedding can make the celebration memorable, 'but also demonstrates the couple's commitment to take responsibility for the waste and carbon emissions generated during a wedding'.

Carbon Care Asia offers packages that help turn a wedding into a carbon neutral event. It helps couples estimate the carbon emissions from the electricity used at venues and from transportation and flights, as well as waste disposal generated, and gives suggestions on ways to minimise emissions.

'These may include sending out e-invitations, providing coaches for guests, choosing seasonal and local flowers for venue decoration, ordering local or low mileage food for the banquet, and reducing the number of dishes on the menu,' Lai says, adding that a honeymoon at an eco-friendly resort can make a significant difference.

Couples can offset emissions created by their wedding and by flying off for a honeymoon. 'By purchasing United Nations-verified carbon credits they can offset their carbon footprints and turn their wedding carbon neutral,' Lai says.

Sustainability of the marine eco-system is a controversial topic especially the issue surrounding sharks.

In a consumer survey last year by marine conservation organisation Bloom, 78 per cent of respondents found it acceptable not to serve shark's fin soup at banquets.

Hong Kong Shark Foundation says feedback from its members is that most people are happy to remove the delicacy from their wedding, with the only reason many people still do offer it is because of peer pressure from family members.

Hong Kong Shark Foundation founding member, Rachel Vickerstaff says it is a question of respecting one another's opinions. 'By serving a suitably delicious and expensive menu item that is sustainable, wedding couples can show respect to both their guests and our oceans at the same time, without anyone losing face,' she says.

The organisation held a contest to encourage more couples to remove the delicacy from their wedding banquet, encouraging entries by offering prizes including a honeymoon to a romantic destination.

Hotels are also getting in on the act. The Langham, Hong Kong, is offering sustainable alternatives as part of its wedding packages.