An Earth Friendly and Vegan Earth Day, and Everyday

As you know, every day is Earth Day.  Especially here at Gorgeous and Green! A local and green certified Event Planner, Karine Brighten, also treats each day as earth day.  Apart from being green certified and having connections with local green vendors, she is also committed to education as we are.  This past April 22nd, the traditional Earth Day, she put on an event in Berkeley that highlighted her commitment to the environment and her belief in eating and living as a vegan.

 

gorgeous and green's earth day arrangement

I asked her to share more about her event: 1. What was your vision in creating a vegan earth day in Berkeley? My vision for the event was to start a new tradition, and that new tradition was to celebrate the link between veganism and a healthy environment in honor of Earth Day. There are many events in the San Francisco Bay Area that take place on this day, but none that focus specifically on the positive effects of veganism on the environment. My goal was to have people leave the event feeling inspired, and with tools that they can use to help the planet.

2. Please describe the event and who you chose to include in the day? The event consisted of the screening of an award-winning feature documentary, “Call of Life, Facing the Mass Extinction” by Species Alliances. The film investigates the growing threat to Earth’s life support systems as a result of dwindling biodiversity.  Following the film there was a panel discussion of 4 experts in vegan lifestyle, nutrition, and sustainability. After the panel discussion there was a catered vegan reception that everyone loved!

3. Do you feel like your vision was achieved?  What else would you like to include in up and coming vegan earth days? I couldn’t be happier with the ways things turned out! The event sold out and people walked away feeling motivated to make changes in their lifestyle. The tradition will indeed continue next year, and I hope to make it a full day event.

 

Gorgeous and Green was hired to provide the cute edible baskets for the event:

Gorgeous and Green's edible baskets for Vegan Earth Day

in Green and Health, G&G

Interview with a local Event Planner

Here's a post from my Green.Weddings.com blog that shares an interview with Vera Devera, of Va De Vie Events, here in the Bay Area.  I've worked with Vera on a few events now, and we've had a great time.  Thanks Vera for the interview!

 
The cake table is a salvaged piece from Mignonne Decor. Also featured are scraps of ribbon to connect vintage letters with a felt heart in the center, champagne glasses (from her mother-in-law's wedding 35 years prior), an antique white milk glass cake stand found at a local flea market and fresh dahlias.
 
I have had the privilege of getting to work with Vera Devera, a local event planner here in the Bay Area, on a number of weddings. I've asked her to answer some questions about event planning and specifically, green-er events. Enjoy!
1. What kind of services do you provide couples?
Va de Vie Events specializes in month-of wedding coordination, especially for brides who prefer planning the major elements but recognize the need for help with organizing the event flow, managing vendors, setting up decor and determining the final details. We also offer partial to full planning, including providing overall event design consultation and selecting and booking vendors.
Salvaged lace served as the base for an escort card display (recycled kraft paper that was hand punched) and attached to a wrought iron gate.
2. Why would someone want to hire a planner/coordinator?
A wedding coordinator is like the quarterback between the bride and groom with their vendors and key family members. We act on your behalf to ensure that your vision for the day is executed. The greatest value we offer is our ability to troubleshoot and put out fires. Murphy's Law applies to even the best laid plans and it's our job to make sure you don't even know there was a problem and enjoy your wedding -- after all you have invested a lot of time, energy and money into making it extraordinary!
Principal event planner and owner, Vera Devera
3. What kind of advice/suggestions do you give couples who are trying to stay green while planning?
1. Determine how green you want to be. What are your priorities in minimizing your carbon footprint and how does it impact your wedding's look and feel and its budget? For example, when it comes to shopping for a wedding dress -- is the greenness of the material and getting a new dress made of bamboo fiber more important than finding a dress on Craigslist and getting it customized with vintage embellishments? Where are you going on honeymoon and how are you getting there? Are you volunteering together, engaging in an eco-tour or just having a relaxing getaway within 200 miles of where you live?
2. Go local! Where is your venue? Is it near public transit? Does it already have the tables and chairs that you need (or do you need any at all, especially if you're getting married on the beach)?
 
Unbleached cotton market bags printed locally with vegetable dye.
 
3. Hire vendors who share your values. As you're researching or interviewing vendors, find out if they share your philosophy around being green. For example, is your photographer going all digital and will they post a gallery online for your friends and family to view photos? Find out if your floral designer can make a bouquet that you can plant later (e.g. succulent bouquet) and ask your caterer where their ingredients come from and how it's grown or raised.
4. Consider the season, especially for your food and flowers. It doesn't make sense to eat fruits and vegetables out of season and that have to be flown in from south of the equator for your wedding.
5. Shop smart. Thrift stores, antique flea markets or retail outlets that specialize in salvaged materials are great sources for "found" objects that you can incorporate into the look and feel of your wedding. Or, you can shop online. Our go-to is Etsy.com and we suggest searching for vendors (especially local ones) that recycle or use sustainable materials in their work. Keep in mind that it's best to buy locally -- for example, if you find an amazing antique trunk in New Jersey, it's not cost effective or environmentally friendly to get it shipped out of state.
6. Leverage your existing network and consider the reusability of materials. Can you borrow mason jars as vases from a friend? Can your crafty aunt share scraps from fabric projects? Could your grandmother's treasured brooch be tied to your bouquet? 4. What is your favorite part of planning an event?
Partnering with our clients to find solutions to their needs -- whether it's finding a DJ on a particular budget, determining the best layout for the reception, or creatively communicating seating arrangements to guests -- is one of the most rewarding aspects of our work. We pride ourselves in being resourceful and leveraging our community of talented vendors. And ultimately, it's seeing all the moving parts come together that's the best part of our job. We often work with couples months in advance leading up to the day-of and to see the bride and groom, their family and friends and the beautiful details come together is truly awe-inspiring.
 
In Green and Health,
 

Thanksgiving Centerpieces and green thanks

Photos courtesy of Corduroy Media I recently shared some pics and some thoughts with the Allison Beck, an editor of a website in NYC called The Daily Meal.  They showcased some Thanksgiving themed centerpieces that my assistant Celia and I worked on for Gorgeous and Green.    I also answered some questions about sustainable arrangements and Thanksgiving.  Take a look at some thoughts I shared in the article: When creating centerpieces for Thanksgiving, what inspires you? Pilar: With any of my arrangements, I always look to what is locally in season. Follow the seasons around you to find colors and themes; in the fall to use browns and yellows and reds, because as plants and leaves die, we get to see some magnificent colors. Squash is also prevalent, so we see the use of pumpkins and gourds and squash in a lot of displays and arrangements. Pilar, what about creating stunning centerpieces, without breaking the bank? In a lot of my arrangements, I use vintage and reused containers and items that a lot of people may have around their house but never thought to combine with flowers or plants—I love unique containers. Sometimes an old gravy boat, candy dish or an old bird cage make for a stunning display. Plus, it's all about reusing and reinventing and that means it's also eco-friendly. Pilar, what are some "green" floral decorating tips that people should remember when purchasing materials? In addition to reusing and buying local/in season, it's also important that people pay attention to pesticides, organics and fair trade as well. As with food, flowers can be sprayed with a lot of toxic chemicals that affect everyone involved, from the cultivators of the flower to those who cut, sell, arrange and end up enjoying its beauty. I try to use as many growers as possible who don't use sprays, so that we can have fewer toxins that affect our people and the earth. Fair trade is also important to think about, and is directly linked to the health of communities and the environment. Hopefully, when you buy local or fair trade, you are supporting businesses who can then support and pay their employees fairly. Hopefully if you are going to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, you can remember to show your thanks in the many actions it takes to put something like a dinner or gathering together, and all the people and the planet that is touched by our actions, every day. In Green and Health, G&G

Bay Area (green) Event Venue

And a great place for a soak! I recently posted a blog on The Knot's Green.Weddings.com website about Wilbur hot springs, a wonderful hot spring location not far from the Bay Area.  They offer accomdations and even yoga and guest chef weekends, but what may interest you most is their availability as a wedding venue.  Check out the pics and story below:

(photography above by Gia Canali)

One of the first decisions (and some would argue the most important decision) most couples make when planning their wedding, is deciding where it's going to happen.  The venue...   For the green couple, finding a venue that will represent their value systems and green choices is important.  But, not all venues talk green and not all actually walk the green talk.  This brings us to Wilbur Hot Springs.  Yes, it's a local and sustainable event Venue. If you're a Bay Area local, you may already be familiar, and if not, it's definitely worth checking out, multiple times, I might add. 1. How is Wilbur a sustainable wedding/event venue?  Wilbur is 100% off the grid, powered entirely by solar panels and propane. Renovations and improvements are performed using eco-conscious building materials and practices. The solar panel array was installed in the early 1990s. Up to that time, the Wilbur hotel had been lit with kerosene lamps. The transition to solar-powered lighting was completed in 1991. The refrigerators are all electric and are specifically designed to run on solar power. They are more efficient and use approximately one-third the power of consumer refrigerators The stoves in the kitchen, and the fireplaces, which heat the hotel in winter, are powered by propane. Wilbur uses compact fluorescent light bulbs and low-flow toilets. And the cleaning products we use are all eco-friendly. Wilbur’s hot springs flumes are non-impact. In other words, the water is simply diverted from the geothermal source, held temporarily in the flumes and then returned to the creek. No chemicals are added to the flumes,and as a result no chemicals are being added to the water table. The hotel and hot springs are located on approximately 240 acres. In 1999, the surrounding 1560 acres were purchased and designated as a nature preserve. In 2006, Wilbur began working with range ecologist Craig Thomsen from UC Davis to restore native plants to the area, and combat invasive species. Thomsen’s work continues currently, with Wilbur participating in raising grant money, and providing lodging in trade to guests who work with Craig.... To read more about Wilbur please go to: Green.Weddings.com In Green and Health, G&G

Green Planner for your Green Event

Check out a recent post I did for The Knot's Green.weddings.com blog.  All about a green event planner I have recently worked with here in the Bay Area..

Planning Green

Photographer: Cathryn Lovecraft
For a wedding or large event, there are a lot of little details. And those details can start to get overwhelming, so hiring a professional planner or coordinator can be a stress-reliever, if it's in your budget.  Hiring a green even planner and coordinator is even more important when you're trying to go green.  Not only are they super organized and adept at planning events, but someone who knows green can also help you make your event the most sustainable and eco-friendly it can be.
Photographer: Cathryn Lovecraft
I have had the opportunity to work with and get to know a local green event planner, Karine Brighten, here in the Bay Area.  I've asked her to share a little about green event planning.  Here is what she had to say:
1. Why did you choose green event planning?
I decided to do green event planning because I am very passionate about environmental issues in my personal life as well as in business.  I love educating my clients on how to make their events eco-friendly.  It's great when they realize they can actually save money while feeling great about their eco-conscious choices.
Photographer: Genvieve Shiffrar
2. How is a green event planner different from other event planners?
A green event planner is different than other event planners because we work very closely with other green businesses, we are very conscious about the environmental impacts that events can have, and we make decisions that will reduce our environmental footprint.
Photographer: Genvieve Shiffrar
3. Besides hiring a green event planner, what do you see to be the most valuable green choice a couple can make in their event planning process?
The most valuable green choices in my opinion are reducing the amount of paper (using electronic tools instead), having the event close to home, and working with local green businesses.
Not only is Karine green-minded, Karine Brighten Events is also certified Green Business.  Meaning that her own business practices are green like the events she plans.
In Green and Health,
G&G

Green Invitation Options

Tasha's Designs

I've slowly been coming across more green and sustainable invitation options out there in the sustainable event and wedding world.  I am always impressed by small business owners who were startups turned artists, or vice versa.  Maybe they were always an artist, but something in their life changed or they changed their own life's course and let their creative imagination and sustainable thinking run a business.  It reminds me of my own story just a little. Here's a great small business doing sustainable designed invitations: Tasha Rae Designs.  I asked the owner, Tasha Fontanes, to answer some of my green and catchy questions about her business and her life.  Check out some of her designs, her cool story and how she works green into her business: ecowaterwildsset

sweetheart

I like the play on the tree carving a couple might do, signifying the lasting commitment of a relationship etched into a old tree.  Very Romantic.

ecoretro

this one's my favorite, mostly because of the large colorful flowers, kind of like in a kaleidoscope

4fold

1. Why did you start your invitation/stationary business and why did you decide to offer sustainable/eco-friendly designs?

I started designing invitations as a hobby after I had printed my own wedding invitations. About a year into it, fate stepped in when I got laid off from my full-time job just a week before I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. So I decided to dive in head first and start my own business. I added earth-friendly invitations about 5 years ago when people were becoming more aware of the fact that we need to clean up our planet. The demand for earth-friendly invites has grown tremendously over the last 5 years and now I would say about 85% of my customers request recycled papers (and I try to talk the other 15% into using them as well!)

2. In what ways is your business sustainable?

I offer a wide variety of recycled and earth-friendly papers, I reuse the packaging that my paper comes in to package my final products and I recycle ink cartridges through a program that sends money or school supplies to my daughter’s school. I also plant a tree at the end of each month through www.americanforests.org for each earth-friendly order. Another thing that is important in my sustainable business deals with the customers themselves. Instead of charging my customers for samples, I ask them to make a small donation to the charity of their choice. Amazing things can happen when you ‘pay it forward’. My business has thrived based on this idea so I am proof that it really works!

3. How would you define sustainable living?

I think an important part of sustainable living revolves around the way you treat the people around you as well as the world around you. I am a firm believer in 'what goes around, comes around' and I try to apply it to all parts of my life. Whether it’s by recycling or just doing something nice for someone, so they in turn pass it on. If we all take care of each other and the earth, we will live happier and healthier lives.

4. What do you think is the biggest barrier in getting people to choose green wedding options including invites?

I think sometimes people get stuck in old traditions or etiquette and have a hard time breaking out of the mold. Invitations do not have to be engraved to be elegant. Reply postcards are OK and cut down on paper waste. I tell people that recycled papers may vary a little and have some inconsistencies but this is what make them unique and beautiful.

5. What is the most un-green or unsustainable event or wedding practice that you can think of or have seen in your experience?

Well – I think people are getting smarter about this now, but I would say a lot of people still waste a lot on useless wedding ‘favors’. I LOVE the new ‘greener’ trends... making a donation to a charity in lieu of favors, giving guests seed packets to plant or writing a personal note to each guest (on recycled paper of course!).

6. Let's pretenf for a moment that you could create one green/eco-friendly invention in your life (that worked, no matter how unbelievable) what would it be?

I think since I am a work at home mom (my daughter is long out of diapers, but thinking back in time...) it would have to be a diaper that just disappears into thin air...you don’t have to throw it away or wash it. Just take it off the baby and poof it’s gone!

Since we've already received an invention for a sustainable diaper (which isn't surprising, since 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the US, resulting in a possible 3.4 million tons of used diapers adding to landfills each year, a fact shared in a recent Time Magazine article in 2008) She emailed me an additional highly needed green invention:

how about a solar powered robot that cleans the house! :)

In green, clean houses, and health,

G&G

Organic Indie Cakes in Oakland

An Interview with Indie Cakes

A little while ago, I introduced myself to a local cake baker, Anastasia, with Indie Cakes here in Oakland. I've gotten to know her a little more and was able to get some details about her and her business. She's sustainable, small, local and her baked goods are sooo good! We were able to hang out a little while ago at my house and she was nice enough to bring mini cupcakes in many different flavors. Yum Yum. They look so cute and their natural organic flavors were scrumptious. Take a look : indie and yard flowers   Here's a closer look.  From left to right, there's lemon, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, banana and raspberry.     yummy indie cakes Here's what she had to say about her business and sustainable living: 1. Why did you start your business and how did you decide to get involved in making Organic cakes? I love baking and can't think of anything else I would do for living. I started my business because I wanted some flexibility with working hours. I have a 10-year-old daughter and I believe it's a critical time for me to be available for her. My decision to make cakes with organic and local ingredients is an extension to the choices I make in my personal life. I buy and cook organic food, so it only makes sense to me to sell products that I would eat and serve to my family. I also want to support local producers, keep the local economy going and do my part to save the environment. 2. How would you define sustainable living? To me, sustainable living starts with being mindful of my life and how my choices will impact those around me. I define sustainable living as being resourceful, finding ways to reuse and not waste and cutting down on consumerism. 3. What do you think is the biggest barrier in getting couples to choose a green/sustainable wedding? I think the biggest barrier for couples to choose a green/sustainable wedding is their their awareness of how much their weddings affect the environment. Once they believe that they can make a difference, green wedding will be the only way to go. 4. How is your business green/sustinable? What do you wish you could do or have to make it more green or better for people and the planet? I use organic and local ingredients. Any packaging I use, which is very little, is unbleached and the fiber comes from Sustainable Forestry Initiative lumber. For more info about these wonderful products visit here . I recycle all plastic, milk and egg cartons, paper, etc. I'm also looking into composting. I always try my best to not be wasteful. For example, I use egg whites for my buttercreams. The egg yolks will go into making lemon curd, pastry creams, or vanilla buttercakes. I use any extra batter to make tasting samples. Nothing goes into waste. One thing I wish to have someday is a hybrid or electric car. My car now is old but runs really well. It goes with my motto of if it still works, use it. 5. What is the most un-green or unsustainable wedding practice that you can think of or have seen in your experience? Destination weddings. All the time, effort, and resources to put these weddings together and to fly all the guests and, sometimes, the materials over are all unnesccesary and avoidable. 6. Let's pretend for a moment that you could create one green invention in your life (that worked) what would it be? I had this idea when my daughter was very young to create a cloth diaper that's (almost) as convenient as paper diapers. I use cloth diapers for her and found that putting on a diaper and the cover is a 2-step process and then having 2 items to wash (that didn't stop me for using it for 3 years, though). On the other hand, paper diapers come in one easy step. I would like to see a cloth diaper that has a built in cover, all in one piece, only one thing to wash, made with organic cotton.

For more information about her sustainable practices or to order a cake contact: 

Anastasia Widiarsih www.indiecakes.com

In green and Yummy-ness,

G&G