Learn how to reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding with tips from eco-Muslim Rianne ten Veen. Image via Amrufum
The sun is shining and the days are long right now in the Middle East, which can only mean one thing- it’s wedding season! Invitations are flooding in and every night there seems to be wedding party going on into the small hours. Fireworks, food, fancy clothes and fights is how I would usually sum up an average Muslim wedding in the Middle East but is this leaving behind a trail of waste and carbon emissions?
I spoke to Rianne ten Veen of the book ‘199 Ways to Please God’ who came up with some practical advice for couples on how to ‘green’ their wedding as well as their future together. A Muslim convert with a long-standing passion for the environment, Rianne’s suggestions are all based on principles she outlines in her book which are organised around four key areas of Islamic life: beliefs, worship, transactions and moral character.
There are already some great eco-traditions at Arab Muslim weddings which means that waste is minimised. Buses are provided for guests to travel to the wedding location if it is far, any leftover food is given out and you’ll find an array of young children after your empty can of juice which earns them a couples of coins when they get recycled. Honeymoons also tend to be in a neighboring country which cuts down the air miles. However, the following Rianne’s tips to fully ‘green’ a Muslim wedding and -more importantly- to encourage couples to become more conscious of the need to make green decision in every aspect of their lives.
- Worry about the weather: Bear in mind the weather when planning your wedding and avoid mid-winter or summer when it would you be forced to heat or cool the venue. Not only would this cut your carbon footprint, a spring and autumn wedding is bound to be cheaper!
- Organise Transport: Guests travelling to the venue tends to be one of the most carbon-intensive aspects of a wedding so make sure that the wedding venue is reachable by public transport and encourage attendees to arrive on foot/ bus/ train. Include information on public transport on the invite and mention that the venue has a place to freshen up. If this isn’t possible, then follow in the footsteps of Middle Eastern weddings and arrange for a coach or bus to take people to the event and back.
- Green your Vows: Ask the imam doing the nikah (matrimonial contract) to include the Islamic duty of humans as guardians towards all creation, and incorporate a commitment by both the bridge and groom that they will do everything in their capacity to faithfully fulfill this duty and strengthen each other to have the best record on Day of Judgment in this respect.
- Accept Gifts: Instead of accepting commercial gifts, propose donation to have trees planted which could include having trees planted ‘back home’ in case of diaspora or in poorest areas of the world through a charity. This wouldn’t just offset some of wedding CO2, but also ensure that the poor and those away benefit from the wedding in the form of shade, erosion prevention and a better livelihood.
- Waste Food: The other most energy-intensive aspect of a wedding is the food so its important to be organised and use local and organic produce. “Also, make arrangements beforehand with a homeless charity to arrange for them to take any leftover food from the wedding feast.” Whilst its best not to have any leftovers in the first place, sometimes this is just unavoidable and although Islamically it shouldn’t be a feast, I guess we have to take one step at a time!
- Buy Everything New: “If you’re having several events (such as girls night, walima, nikah party), instead of buying new outfits for each occasion, organise a ‘swap party’ where attendees swap clothes they no longer wear. Also suggest that the bride and groom and family wear organic/ recycled clothing.”
Finally, continue the green theme to the entertainment by organising environmental poetry such as as Rabi’a Al-Adawiyya or Rumi! Hopefully applying these tips – which can be used by anybody- will not only affirm the couples commitment to the environment but also inform and influence the guests into taking practical action to protect the environment in their daily lives.
Related: Find latest discount wedding dresses collection at 27Dress.com
Read More on Green Islam:
Cambridge to Build Europe’s First Eco-Mosque
“Inspired by Muhammad” Is Islam’s Green Message to Break Terrorism
Water Conservation Values in Islam
The Muslim World Wants to Green Hajj
Breast Feed Baby in Hijab