Gorgeous and Green Deliveries!

I have been doing a lot of gorgeous deliveries for Gorgeous and Green, my new sustainable floral boutique in Berkeley, CA.  It's been hard to remember to take pics, but on occasion I do, and so I have some pics to show you here from past deliveries. Most of my delivery clients are word of mouth, as of now I don't have an online shopping platform, but I hope to get something set up soon. Here is a pic of an arrangement I did for a local Oakland customer: And here's one I did for a Mother's Day arrangement.  The customer wanted as many organic flowers as possible so I included some organic snapdragons, greens and roses I grew!  It was also peony season (a short lived 4 weeks somewhere between April and May) so we had some lovely local bubblegum peonies too.  It was all packaged in a recycled glass vase I carry here in the store. Another arrangement, but this one is actually a living terrarium made with succulents.   I made it by request for a mom who wanted to give something living to her daughter on her birthday.  I love the way the gnarled wood looks in the glass. As always, trying to stay gorgeous and green with reused materials, biodegradable materials and local and organic flowers and plants.  This cylinder was actually left reused from a past event and the wrapping I used was recycled paper and cotton ribbon.  You gotta love biodegradable ribbon!  That plastic/polyester stuff is  bad news. In Green and Health, G&G

The Story behind Invite Site

Invite Site offers DIY packages and printed invitations, cards, programs and thank you's made from recycled paper and tree-free paper.  I recently asked Helen Driscoll of Invitesite to share some background on the paper and printing company.    Here's what she had to say:

Why did you decide to offer eco-friendly invitations?

We opened Fine Paper Company in 1995 -- a large handmade and fine paper store, in Old Town Pasadena. We stocked 2000 different treefree papers. We also stocked some really groovy 100% post consumer recycled papers -- but most of those companies went out of business by 1999.  I opened the store, because we wanted to introduce alternative fiber papers to the market. We were the first intense, specifically eco paper store in LA area. We were among the first letterpress printers and the first DIY go-to-place.
Fine Paper Company was fixtured entirely with vintage fixtures. I did not buy one new thing. We even repurposed the bars that were on the storefront windows into a paper rack. It was beautiful -- looked like a French paper shop. We had 3,000 sq feet in an 1900 building.
I got into non wood papers because I sold rare and antiquarian books to Hollywood elite  -- and I wanted books and paper to be beautiful like it was up until 1880's - when paper started to be made out of trees. (Plus -- Hollywood gets old...)
I got into letterpress printing in 1996.  Met Scott, my partner, in 1997. He is a graphic designer and really really good letterpress printer. Also, an avid environmentalist. Soon, we were "together".  We spent many years letterpress printing at night, and creating diy designs in the shop, in the day. So we burned out.  We had to choose between making stuff and running a store. We decided to move everything to the web, and close the store, and open a factory. Hence, Invitesite.com We launched Invitesite when eco was not trendy. We focused on beauty and used all eco materials. For years, about half our customers bought our stuff because they liked the designs (and were not greenies) -- and half because they wanted to do a green wedding.

Poetica: vintage inspired invitation

How is your business Green/Sustainable?

Our green business policies:

Fair trade:

Seedling: a plantable invitation with cosmo or marigold seeds

How are you green in your own life?

I have been shopping at farmers markets for 19 years now. Organic and mostly raw for most of my adult life. Vintage, most of my adult life.

Scott, my partner, helped his uncle build one of the largest recycled buildings on the west coast. It's a castle in Glendora, CA, built out of found stuff and river rock:
He built his first letterpress shop there.
Quiet Night: Eco Holiday Card
Thanks Helen for the interesting background on your printing company.  I also appreciate all the steps your business takes to be a green and socially responsible business.
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

Earthly Affairs and Invites

An Interview with Earthly Affair

A fellow blogger, and one of the go-to gals I have listed on GorgeousandGreen for green event inspiration, is Jennifer from Earth Friendly Weddings.  Apart from her creative blogging skills, she is also responsible for Earthly Affair, a green invitation business.  They offer two earth-friendly papers for their invites: One is a 100% pcw, using no new trees and the other is a cotton paper, FSC certified for responsible forest management and made of partially recycled content.

Take a look at some of the whimsical, romantic and clean designs they provide:

Grace_collage

Juliet_collage

Pinwheel_CollageThis one is my favorite.  I love the large graphic flowers.

I asked her some questions about her own wedding, her business and sustainable weddings.  Check out what she had to say: 1. Why did you start your business and how did you decide to get involved in Earth Friendly Weddings... Earthly Affair was created after the planning of my own wedding. While searching for invitations, I noticed a lack of truly earth friendly and stylish invitations for today’s modern bride. I decided to design my own invitations and that’s when the idea was born. Nearly one year later, we launched our site and started selling eco-friendly, customizable invitations online! 2. I noticed you recently planned your own Green Wedding, what did you do to make it sustainable and green? I have to admit, I didn’t start out planning a green wedding. Our plan was to keep the wedding fairly simple and as the planning process intensified, I became determined to make more sustainable choices. We held it at a beautiful and historic antebellum house in the city that also acted as a restaurant. Our ceremony and reception were both held there, so guests didn’t have to travel from one event to another. Apart from the flowers, all of the decor was either rented or available to us from our venue, reducing unnecessary waste. The one thing I purchased for decoration was a set of letters that spelled out “LOVE,” and even those were re-used for my friend’s wedding and they now reside as decoration in her home. I was hesitant about favors, but in the end I decided to create something that I thought people would keep. I spent hours researching and printing romantic quotes to put on little favor boxes, which we then filled with chocolate bought in bulk. Those were a big hit and most people loved them. 3. How would you define sustainable living? Sustainable living is respecting that which we depend on. I’ve always believed this and although it’s a somewhat cheesy outlook, I think if people took the time to realize how lucky we are to have such a beautiful earth, which is our home, there would be a lot less problems in the world. 4. What do you think is the biggest barrier in getting couples to choose a green wedding? A big barrier is the misconception that it costs more. In some cases, they’re right, but with a little extra work and patience, it doesn’t have to be. 5. What is the most un-green or insustainable wedding practice that you can think of or have seen in your experience? I’ve never witnessed any one thing, but putting sentimental feelings aside, the wedding dress is pretty unsustainable. Many resources go into making this overpriced jungle of fabric and then we only wear it once. I don’t have much room to talk though. I bought a brand new dress for my wedding and it’s still hanging in my closet. There is a conflict of emotions there because while I know it’s highly unsustainable, I fell in love with it and wasn’t able to let go. 6. Let's pretend for a moment that you could create one green invention in your life (that worked) what would it be? Would teleportation be green? I love to travel, but I know how horrible air and car travel is for the environment. Of course, the thought of actually being teleported is a different story, but the convenience factor is hard to deny. I wonder if we would run into each other mid-teleport and end up with someone else’s legs or arms… If you get the chance, do look at her blog and check out those lovely invitations if you're holding an event or wedding.  I know they are doing a lot to be eco-friendly, and as a fellow greenie I can vouch for their strong values and sustainable methods.  Take a look at some of the ways they are acting as a sustainable business:
  • they offset co2 emissions resulting from our shipments and our business through carbonfund.org.
  • they donate a portion of our profits to environmental projects.
  • they recycle or reuse everything we can.
  • they implement energy saving practices
  • they compost and/or recycle leftover paper scraps.
  • they reuse shipping supplies or materials.
If only I needed wedding invitations.... In Green, Party and Health, G&G

Green Wedding in Santa Cruz

Local, Sustainable and Organic 

In November, we did a wedding for Heidi and Dave, who had chosen to do local and sustainable flower design for their wedding.  The wedding took place at the Chaminade, very close to their home in Santa Cruz.  I don't live in Santa Cruz, so I stayed at a local beach cabana with my husband under the guise of a surf weekend.  We brought our dog and all the materials I would need to craft 21 large table centerpieces of orchids, some cocktail arrangements, a table card arrangement and the wedding party's flowers.   Heidi originally wanted orange and purple flowers, but when we talked with Dave about his needs he asked that we not use very much purple, as in his Italian culture it was considered bad luck.  So out went the purple and in came the green, white and orange color scheme that I suggested.   I had seen some beautifully decorated rooms where the floral designer used potted orchids as the centerpiece, so I suggested we do the same because the plants could also be used as gifts for those who wanted to take one home with them.  I used willow branches, moss and glass vases with rocks to pot the orchids, and they looked beautiful in the room.  Around the centerpieces I added some moss and branches I had found from the sea and that had dropped from trees in the mountains.  We decided a slightly mountain-y feel would go well for where the Chaminade is located (in the Santa Cruz mountains).  The ceilings were bare and we needed some height in the design, so the tall orchid centerpieces did the job wonderfully. gg-med-heidi-tables We also wanted to add some color to the tables but didn't want to have to buy tablecloths or order special cloth so I found some elephant dung paper (paper made from elephant poo, tree free, recycled and biodegradable) that came in a dark orange that Heidi was fond of.  We used the paper at each place setting and used if for the tablecards and table numbers. gg-med-room-setup I snuck in a little purple with some of the green flowering kale for the cake table.  Throughout all of the tables we used floating candles and votive candles for ambiance.  The dinner was in the evening, so to create an atmospheric light without turning up the electrical lights made it feel very romantic.  There were a lot of windows in the room, so we also strung up some hanging glass votive holders in the windows, which also added a soft light and twinkling. gg-med-heidi-cake For the Bridal party's flowers, I used what was in season from some local flower growers.  Heidi wanted Calla lilies and flowering kale matched the color scheme, so we used them for the bouquets.   gg-med-heidi-and-girls I also used veriflora certified roses for some of the boutonnieres and for the Bridal Bouquet. gg-med-heidi-bouquet Overall, the wedding looked beautiful and the atmosphere during dinner was very romantic.  Using local and fair trade flowers made the wedding a conscious wedding, that matched the lives of the bride and the groom. For more information about green wedding planning and floral design, visit us at www.gorgeousandgreenevents.com In Green and Health G&G

Vintage and Natural Seating Cards

The ABC's of finding your seat

When it comes to events with sit down breakfast, lunch or dinner, I love the idea of the seating card and finding a way to present the cards in a way that is fun and exciting.  I have many ideas in my head, but one that I can always lean back on is hanging cards from branches.  Not only does it add a festive element, it's clearly natural and biodegradable and lends an organic design element to your design.  To make it even more green, don't forget to use organic flowers (like those shown in the pictures) and use recycled paper or tree-free paper if possible.  I also used hemp cord to hang the cards on the branches. I recently saw some paper at a craft store that I just had to use to make table seating cards with.  The paper is a vintage alphabet design, with a short sentence featuring a word beginning with the letter of the alphabet that's being shown in the picture.  It kind of reminds me of those Dick and Jane cartoons.  Anyway, take a look at how I used the alphabet for people's last names, so they know where to find their seating card. gg-alphabet-table-cards   Here are some up close pics of the design (provided by Cavallini Paper Co. a paper company right here in the Bay Area):   gg-b-table-cards1 gg-d-table-cards1   gg-a-table-cards2 Enjoy! In Green and Health, G&G www.gorgeousandgreenevents.com

Eco-Conscious Wedding in Baja Part 2

Details of a Green Wedding

The small pieces of an event or wedding are always the most tedious and possibly some of the most important.  Flower colors, number of birthday candles, seating charts, the 1st song, etc. etc.  And when it comes to a green event, making some of these details green and sustainable can get overwhelming.  Yet, people have been celebrating green for centuries, and really it just means we have to go back to our roots to find our sustainable ways.   At Gorgeous and Green Events we believe green design and event planning start with what's available in your area and what can be made and planned for without a lot of out of town materials or out of town vendors.  It's rather simple to do, but we've made it more difficult for ourselves in the US because we use cars, trucks and airplanes to transfer people and objects all around the world with the swipe of a credit card.  Not to mention all the chemicals we use to make things grow and appear in new ways and at different times of the year. With our wedding in Baja, my fiance and I decided to make even the small details green.  My mother and I contacted local flower growers in Baja (about 5 miles away from the wedding site) and ordered flowers that could be used in bouquets and arrangements for the wedding.  We picked those up the day before the wedding, so the florist, who also came down to Baja to work, could include those flowers in the arrangements.  

Bouquet by Heavenly Florist, San Diego

Heavenly Florist San Diego We chose to print our own maps and invitations at home.  I illustrated the map using information about mileage and freeways for guests I could find on the internet.  Since I had driven down Baja many times, it was helpful for me to add some additional driving pointers.  We just scanned and printed them at home.  Very cost-effective.   The Invitation papers we bought from www.invitesite.com . A great place to get invitations sets for printing at home, and they offer sustainable designs that include tree free paper, recycled paper and raffia.  

Invite Site's Hampton's

invite-site-pic If you have a chance, however, you can find recycled paper and envelopes in different colors from art stores and paper stores in your area, and print out your own invites at home.  You might even find a local printer who can do them for you sustainably, and cut out the extra travel carbons.

Here are some sustainable invitation vendors or companies that provide eco-friendly options:

www.invitessite.com

www.twistedlimbpaper.com

www.custompaper.com

www.formal-invitations.com

www.earthinvitations.com

www.greenfieldpaper.com

www.festivale.net

www.sweetinvitations.com

www.tasharaedesigns.com

www.theinvitationdepot.com

I chose to decorate our cocktail napkins and table cards using some rubber stamps that I had bought at a local art supply store.  Rather than send out for printed napkins with our names or logo on it, I felt the stamps gave a festive and personal touch.  The place cards were printed on recycled cardstock and they were attached to small shells that sat in sand at the entrance to the reception.

Table Cards

PZ's Table cards

I made the ceremony programs by sewing sheets of printed vellum and recycled cardstock together and then adding a cutout from a piece of design paper I bought at the art store.  They were very special and were made at home!  Less travel carbons and a bit cheaper than having them done elsewhere. We had a lot of space to decorate, and really no amount of flowers would have added to the magnificent decor of the beach and beautiful blue sea.  So we opted to stay light on the table flowers and added some decor in the sky such as some paper flowers I made from tissue paper and tree-free paper that were strung up at the reception entrance.  Not only were they compact and pesticide free, we could recycle them when we were done.  

Sky paper flowers

paper flowers

We also needed more light on the patio where the reception was being held so we needed to buy or rent lighting.  I made some lanterns out of jelly jars and wire and hung those around and we opted for turquoise paper lighted lanterns around the space that looked magnificent by day and glowing at night.  Not only beautiful, but these lights were made of paper and old jars, recyclable or reusable materials for another event.  

Paper Lanterns

PZ's Sky

Lanterns at Night

at nightphotos by Erin Beach Photography, SF

  For wearable details besides my dress, I opted to go vintage.  I began looking for the perfect necklace months before, and found it close to home at a local jewelry shop that specialized in antique Native American jewelry.  I found a wonderful necklace of full turquoise, which not only is a favorite stone but also was one of our wedding colors.  I also found at a local vintage store a beautiful vintage hair comb with blue crystals.  It went perfectly with my dress and overall look, which had a special Spanish/Mexican Colonial feel.  

 

accessories

Vintage Hair Comb and Necklace

details There were many more details that I could go on and on about, but the take home message is really about simplifying and keeping things local and free of toxins.  If you can buy it near you, if it was made or grown near you, if it was grown and made without added chemicals and toxins, and if it was already used by someone else, you've made quite an attempt at keeping your event and your life green. All the beautiful event photographs were taken by Erin Beach at www.erinbeach.com