Greenwashing 101 :: Verifiable Venues


Photo Courtesy of Lauren Larsen Photography

Photo Courtesy of Lauren Larsen Photography

We have been quite the busy little bees here at VGP this past couple of months, and to my dismay our scheduled blog posts have not been posting!  SOMEONE (see ME!) may have scheduled them to post in 2013, and that’s just too long to wait to finish this series :)

We just finished up our 2012 wedding season this past weekend and now it’s time to refocus and prepare for a busy holiday season, and goal setting for the next year.   My to do list is literally three pages long, but we are all so excited about some of the awesome weddings we have coming up in 2013.  It is always such an honor when a couple trusts their wedding day in your hands, as well as a huge responsibility.  Part of the responsibility that we have taken on as wedding planners is to help our client’s wedding wishes come true.  Brides specifically hire Vera Green Productions because their wedding wishes are to have an exquisite wedding without making a huge impact.  We have the responsibility to protect our clients from vendors who are trying to get their piece of the eco-wedding pie without offering true eco-friendly services.  This is what we in green commerce call “greenwashing.”

Today we are going to pick up our series on greenwashing by discussing what to look for in an eco-friendly wedding venue, and what warning signs you might find that will tell you to dig a little deeper and find out where their priorities really lie.

There is a lot to take into account when selecting a venue for your wedding.  Of course style and cost are the two biggest factors for couples when selecting their venue.  But from a sustainability standpoint there are certain other factors to take into effect.   They are listed below in no particular order:

1.  The building- Was the building itself built to serve it’s current purpose?  If so was it built (or remodeled) according to specifications set by the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental Energy Design (LEED)?  LEED is the international standard for sustainable building, and not only applies to new buildings, but also standards to give existing buildings credibility in the green commerce community through adaptive reuse.  In addition to adhering to LEED standards brides and grooms can think outside the box for their venue location.  Refurbished historic homes, parks, ranches, barns, and rooftops all supply beautiful backdrops for your nuptuials, and with the proper knowledge and planning they can add to the sustainability of your event.

2.  Waste- Many venues in DFW don’t have access to recycling services, so in order to have recycling facilities at their venue they must pay an outside service.  This is a big burden for most venues, which is why they don’t offer recycling services.  Some don’t allow disposables at all, and some will say that they CAN recycle, but that doesn’t mean that they do.  Be sure to ask questions about their recycling program.  If they can easily tell you what types of items can be recycled through the program that they use and have bins on the premises then you can be comfortable that they actually DO recycle.  Of course if you love a venue but they don’t have on site recycling you can always look into other options, such as bringing bins yourself and having the recyclables carted off after the event.  We will not only provide this service free of charge for our clients, but we will also take compostable refuse and food and flowers for donation!

3.  Power-  One of the easiest steps for businesses to take to “green” their operations, and current rates for renewable energy sources are in line with those of conventional options.  If a venue is claiming that they are eco-friendly this is a bare minimum that they should offer.

4.  Business Solutions-  In a businesses day to day operations it is imperative that they are taking steps in the office to reduce paper and solid waste if they are claiming to be green.  In today’s digital age it is so easy to be 100% paperless.  There are dozens of online services that offer affordable and user friendly online contract solutions, and the sky is the limit where electronic information packets and brochures are concerned.  This is not only an eco-friendly solution, but also a practical one as you have an online record of everything and don’t have to worry about lost documents!

5.  Site Maintenance- Does your venue use natural cleaning products?  Because if they are claiming their piece of the earth friendly pie, they should.

6.  Design-  It’s a big misconception that sustainable design has to be all reclaimed barn wood and living roofs.  Pay attention to the decor that is used in your “green” venue.  Are their lights traditional, LED or CFL?  Do they have wall to wall nylon carpet or a more sustainable reclaimed hardwood or bamboo option? Do they have vases among vases of fresh cut out of season flowers, or wholesome and beneficial living plants that contribute to air quality?

7.  Preferred Vendors-  Your venue most likely has a preferred vendor list.  Pay close attention to the vendors on that list.  Do they share the same principles as you?  This is the biggie, because these are the companies that do the most work at this venue, and if they don’t at least offer eco-friendly services on top of their conventional ones then you have to wonder just how true the venue holds to their claims.

It is nearly impossible for a venue to feasibly be 100% eco-friendly.  That would be a huge investment for business owners, and in order for them to operate such a business there fees would have to be incredibly high restricting them to a very limited portion of the wedding market.  So with that said, just because a venue doesn’t follow any or all of the above practices doesn’t mean that they are a BAD option.  For example, if a venue runs on fossil fuels and doesn’t have a recycling program in place they may take other steps to make up for those facts.

The point of this post is not to condemn those who are not able to offer 100% eco-friendly services, but to provide brides and grooms with the knowledge to spot businesses who are making unfounded claims.  And if you are in love with a location for your wedding, but they fall more in line with traditional operations you can take that into account in other aspects of your wedding planning.  But it still never hurts to encourage them to make the necessary steps to lead their business into the green revolution!

To end I would like to share some of my favorite eco-friendly venues in North Texas:

Hickory Streent Annex

F&R Whiskey Distillery 

City Club Fort Worth (This was the first venue in Fort Worth to start taking green initiatives!)

Nylo Hotels Dallas Southside

Trinity River Audubon Center

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