Sustainability or eco-friendliness shouldn’t be restricted to a niche group but it has to become widespread — is what Veena Balakrishnan and Sudarshana Pai believe in. DTNexthad earlier reported about the designer duo, who graduated from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Chennai, and their enterprise called Two’s Company India. It’s a fashion initiative aimed at reducing the carbon footprint and now, they have diversified into providing ‘relatable, accessible and affordable sustainable’ solutions for all environmental concerns.
Wanting to set an example for the masses, Veena and her partner Vignesh tied the knot in an entirely zero-waste wedding earlier this year and documented how they went about it. With the upcoming festival and wedding season, the couple and Sudarshana share how others in the city can replicate their model wedding in other avenues of daily life. “The first step is to make a small change in the mindset. If you think you want to have an eco-friendly function or event, it is possible by following simple steps,” says Veena.
Invitations: The younger generation is open to e-invitations but families or elders are old school. So begin by sensitising them about the zero-waste concept and the repercussions of printing so many invitations on paper.
Clothing: “Including Vignesh and I, none of us bought new clothes for the wedding,” shares Veena. She used her grandmother’s old silk sari and he picked out a shirt he already owned. “Similarly, as a family, using clothes you already possess or borrowing from a friend prevents buying things you may not use again.”
Cutlery: Instruct your caterer not to serve food or beverages in plastic. “In most South Indian weddings, the main meals are anyhow served on plantain leaves. We used areca bowls for payasam and stainless steel utensils for tea and coffee,” she says. During Navratri too, these biodegradable bowls can be used to serve sundal to your guests.
Decorations: Procure minimal, seasonal flowers directly from nearby farmers to support their income. Dye-free decorative hangings made from palm leaves are a great option. Replace the thermacol signboard at the entrance of your wedding venue with a blackboard and, “Get your friend to do some fancy lettering with chalk,” Veena says.
Return gifts: Do a survey with your guests and ask them what might be of use instead of buying boxed gift items that they might throw out. Writing a thank you note on seed paper and presenting it to them with a clay pot and some soil could be a ‘green’ addition to their garden.
Finally, if there is any waste generated, segregate it into three categories — excess food, organic waste and plastic items. “We teamed up with Robin Hood Army to distribute the leftover food to nearby orphanages and shelters, while the organic waste was made into a pulp and given to localities in Thiruvanmiyur to be used as fertilisers. Finally, we called a kabadiwallah to pick up the non-biodegradable items so at the end of it, we were left with zero disposables,” she sums up.