July 17, 2012 | General

Closing The Loop At June Wedding

Bride and groom worked with the venue and local vendors, as well as an organics hauler, to minimize waste and maximize recycling and composting.

Joe Goicochea
BioCycle July 2012, Vol. 53, No. 7, p. 33

On June 2, 2012, Joe Goicochea and Nicole Bujalski let their families and friends know of their commitment to each other when they were married in Columbus, Ohio. That day, they also made their guests aware of their commitment to the environment. This may not come as a surprise given that the couple met at an environmental conference focused on resource conservation and recovery two years ago. At the time, Joe worked for Ohio EPA’s Division of Materials and Waste Management (Columbus, Ohio) and Nicole worked for U.S. EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery (New York, New York).

Newly married, Joe Goicochea and Nicole Bujalski pose in front of the compost bin at their wedding reception.

When the wedding planning process began six months earlier, environmental sustainability was a priority and had to be included whenever possible. The concept of incorporating “green” aspects into an event may not be novel these days. But as degrees of environmentally sustainable practices vary among vendors, including reception halls, florists and bakers, taking a green wedding day from concept to reality can quickly change from a planning to an educational effort. For this wedding, vendors were interested in and supportive of adopting new environmental practices and policies. To make it happen, however, required behind-the-scenes coordination between vendors.
To reduce unnecessary wastes, opportunities were explored to provide wedding essentials in a way that offered convenience while eliminating traditional items. “Save-the-dates” were sent electronically, and extra envelopes and inserts were excluded from wedding invitations. Instead, guests were provided an internet link to RSVP electronically. Table assignments were written on a mirror that was placed on an easel.
At the venue, Creekside Conference and Event Center in Gahanna, Ohio, a “zero waste” goal was set to recycle and compost all waste streams generated. The venue worked with Viridiun, based in Atlanta, Georgia, to coordinate composting and recycling, including the supply of containers, compostable liners and training literature for staff. While food scraps composting is advancing throughout Ohio, a local program was not available nor had the venue ever heard of such a program. However, Creekside was willing to listen and coordinate with other vendors. As a result, all preconsumer and postconsumer food scraps were transported to Ohio Mulch’s Class II Composting Facility in Delaware, Ohio. Recyclables consisting of glass, cans, and cardboard were collected and processed by Rumpke.
In all, 85 pounds of food scraps were composted and 253 glass bottles, 59 aluminum cans, 44 cardboard boxes and 5 pounds of additional recyclables (plastic bags and wrap, aluminum foil) were recycled. It was particularly exciting to have the reception venue agree to work with Viridiun to compost the food scraps. The information contained in BioCycle was applied in Ohio 7-plus years ago to get things moving in the world of food scraps recovery, and thus had a significant role in making food scraps composting a reality at the wedding.

Buying Local

Floral bouquets and centerpieces were arranged by EcoFlora, a Columbus-based florist that employs many sustainable practices and policies, including: locally and organically grown herbs and geraniums; vases made from 100 percent recycled glass; delivery in fuel efficient vehicle; water used to keep flowers later reused to irrigate other plants at florist shop; plastic containers recycled and cut flowers and stems composted. Potted plants including geraniums and herbs were used rather than traditional cut flowers. These centerpieces doubled as favors that guests could take home.
Fun Bus Trolley (Lancaster, Ohio) was used not only to transport the wedding party before and after the ceremony, but it also shuttled guests from multiple hotels to and from the reception. Creekside Conference and Event Center’s chef purchased fruits, vegetables, meat and cheeses from local farmers. To conclude the evening, the wedding brownies, prepared by Four Seasons Desserts in Columbus, used locally grown dairy products and fruits grown in the baker’s private garden. Kitchen prep waste was recycled and composted.
Joe and Nicole started off two years ago after meeting at a conference that aimed to push environmental sustainability forward. As fate may have it, the environment connected this couple together and pushed them forward. It was only fitting that they could give back to the environment as they begin the next chapter of their life together.
Joe Goicochea is an Environmental Supervisor in the Solid Waste Compliance Assistance and Inspection Support Unit, Division of Materials & Waste Management at Ohio EPA.

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