Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!!!

Hi Hive, Happy Earth Day!!

You all know that Mr. PT and are trying our best to incorporate a few eco-chic elements into our wedding, so for us Earth Day for us is a great reminder that we could be doing better.

One thing that is really important to the two of us is carbon offsetting our wedding! What does that mean? Let's go straight to the experts on this subject. This is what Terrapass has to say about potential carbon emissions for your wedding:

What's included in my wedding's carbon footprint?

The wedding calculator takes into account four different sources of emissions:

  • Airline emissions from guest travel. For most weddings, this is by far the most important category of emissions. Planes burn a lot of fuel, and these days most weddings bring together people from all over the country and the world.

  • Automobile emissions from guest travel. Cars aren't likely to be a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions for your wedding, but if you have a lot of local guests, they will collectively burn a modest amount of gasoline getting to the event.

  • Energy use in hotel rooms. Hot showers, lighting, and air conditioning all require electricity. For large weddings, this energy use can add up.

  • Energy use for the wedding itself. The DJ, the caterer, temperature control, lighting – whether you have your wedding on the beach or in a banquet hall, the event itself requires some energy. Truth be told, the amount of emissions from the event itself is small – about one ton of CO2 or less – so we just add a little to the total to cover it.

The biggest impact of our wedding is that almost everyone is coming in from out of town. Out of our 60 person guest list 42 people will be flying!! That impact is HUGE!! And unfortunately, unavoidable. So Mr. PT and I spent an evening figuring out our Wedding Carbon Footprint. Like any good researcher, we compared a couple sites that let you offset your wedding.

First things first, figuring out which site was the best carbon offset site was difficult. I found these two articles, but they still didn't tell me a whole lot. Luckily, the Environmental Defense Fund (which I have grown to know and trust) has already done my research for me!! I noticed right off the bat that Terrapass and both were listed on their site as offset programs that actually make a difference, and both have a calculator to offset your Wedding Carbon Footprint. Bingo!!

First review: Terrapass.

Here's the Peep Toe wedding break down:

Air travel

How many guests are taking short flights? 22

A short flight takes less than two hours.
For example, Boston to Washington, DC.

How many guests are taking medium flights? 5

A medium flight takes about four hours.
For example, New York to Dallas.

How many guests are taking long flights? 15

A long flight is anything over four hours.
For example, New York to Los Angeles.

Car travel

How many cars are being driven to the event? 12

The average one-way trip length in miles? 153

Hotel: How many hotel room nights total will guests need? 67
(a huge number, but many of our guests are staying Thurs, Fri, Sat. At least both of the hotels are Green Friendly.)

Totol Carbon Emissions: 55,000 lbs. or 27.5 tons

That's huge!!
It makes me sad, I wish our impact was smaller, but that is just what it is.
The cost for us to offset our wedding on Terrapass is: $320.00

Next, I went to

This site is very similar, but they ask specifically for the average guest flight distance. This caused me to put on my glasses and do an Excel Spreadsheet!!! (excel fanatics unite!!)

Here's a snapshot of my incredibly dorky spreadsheet. Sorry for the horrible quality.

I actually used Terrapass to figure out the distance from San Francisco to the various guest destinations one way. The number is doubled if it is a couple. Then you add it all up and divide by the number of guests.

Once I knew the exact average distance traveled, I plugged in our numbers to the calculator:
# Guests: 60
# Flights: 42
Average Flight Distance One Way: 1,266
# Cars: 12
Average Driving Distance: 153
Hotel Room Nights: 67

Totol Carbon Emissions: 43,000 lbs. or 21.5 tons

Total Cost: $215.

Again, a huge impact and very disappointing. Why aren't we going to City Hall- oh right, because these people love us and no matter what- they want to witness our big event!!

Hum, what's a bride to do. One site says that our wedding would produce 27 tons and the other says 21.5 tons?? I have to guess that the calculator was a bit more specific since I actually figured out the average flight distance of our guests, rather than just plugging in average flight lengths. Plus, Carbonfund is a non-profit and they seem highly recommended by Environmental Defense Fund. So, that's how I picked which site we would use to offset our wedding (not very scientific, but how scientific does a wedding need to be??).

Now that you've read through all this you might be wondering how you can do all if this yourself- well- minus the dorky spreadsheet?? The great part about Carbonfund is they have a general calculator to estimate how much you need to offset your wedding:

1. 8 ton offset for $80: For under a 100 guests and most of them local.
2. 15 ton offset for $150: They estimate that about 100 guests, with some of them flying.
3. 50 ton offset for $500: They estimate over 200 guests, with most of them flying.

While ours didn't fall directly into these categories, I have to assume that with so many guests flying and staying in hotel rooms we aren't the norm.

So there you have it. This is our Earth Day contribution and this will serve as 'our favor' to the guests. It's not a lot to pay to make us feel like we made a small difference.

What are you doing today to celebrate the Earth?? Anyone else calculate their Carbon Footprint? Or have recommendations to offset your wedding?

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