Striving to make weddings a sustainable affair in India
Hospitality industry experts talk about bringing different strategies to make sustainability more prominent in the Indian wedding scenario
To ensure the pleasure of organising and attending weddings remains untainted with the guilt of having an ill-impact on environment, guests and hoteliers are making a conscious call of switching over to sustainable weddings to bring down ecological repercussions. Although it remains an undeniable fact that the initial choice for a majority of people getting married isn’t opting for a sustainable wedding. We have a long way to go before reaching anywhere near to make people realise their social responsibility for cleaner and greener weddings.
Rising green wedding trend among millennials
The concept of sustainable weddings has been around for a while but it has become an eco-conscious choice among youth lately, shares Kunal Shanker, General Manager, InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort. “What used to be an eco-conscious option among a small group is now becoming a lifestyle norm with GenZ and the millennial couples-to-be. The last seven years have marked a consistent uptake on ‘eco-sustainable celebrations’ where young couples are seeking ways to reduce plastic impact, imply waste segregation and composting, emphasising on repurposed decor, reducing fresh-exotic flower decorations and opting for zero carbon menus. As a hotel, we have a ready solution for waste segregation and compositing, net zero carbon menus and non-plastic cutlery, crockery, and glassware for these weddings,” he says.
Echoing similar feelings, Rajiv Kapoor, General Manager, Fairmont Jaipur, says, “The new generation is keen to put its foot forward to initiate green initiatives to make a difference via small celebratory steps. Families and couples are exploring options to keep it all natural and free of plastic waste. In recent past, we did a wedding which showed great initiative towards no food waste and usage of natural resources for decor,” he puts in.
Talking about hygiene and cleaning initiatives, Amaan Kidwai, Area Manager, WelcomHotels - North & General Manager - WelcomHotel Sheraton New Delhi, shares, “Post-pandemic, guests at most of our hotels are showing concern for environment. They are choosing decor concepts having natural elements like cane baskets and lanterns, plants and flowers and earthen pots. The ‘WeAssure’ initiative by the brand aims at enhancing the existing hygiene and cleaning protocols across all properties addressing every facet of operations.”
Puneet Baijal, General Manager, Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad, states how they have tried to incorporate sustainability in weddings, especially after the guests have got conscious about it. “Sustainability is no longer alien to a majority. They wholeheartedly participate in our sustainability programme and feel good about being associated with an organisation which gives importance to climate change. In alignment with Hyatt’s purpose and our commitment to environmental stewardship, we are equally concerned about the way we execute weddings, whether it is about how the food is being sourced or the way it is being cooked, the materials used, the decoration, flowers, garbage disposable techniques and recycling horticulture,” he says.
Educating guests on eco-friendly weddings
Shanker suggests they have taken a leap forward in educating guests about the ecosystem and the ways they can protect it by opting for a sustainable wedding. “We educate and sensitise guests about the coastal ecosystem with celebration mandates that do not disrupt marine life. We have introduced waste segregation and composting, non-plastic crockery and cutlery with hygiene assurance, repurposed eco-friendly gift hampers, net zero carbon menu, beach celebration curfew and minimum decibel embargo for outdoor events. All this is a part of InterContinental World of Weddings Programme and is communicated to the guests while qualifying the event. We have a comparable success ratio with families opting for at least five out of eight sustainable event solutions,” he avers.
On the initiatives undertaken by Fairmont Jaipur and how they transpire the idea to their guests, Kapoor elaborates, “We are mindful about every action. We produce our own greens, do waste management, have grey water management, e-bikes for city tours and recently have set up an EV charging stations. We inform our guests about these initiatives and curate a wedding which will save food, flowers and electricity. However, since we are involved in an event which will hold memories forever, we leave this decision to the guests.”
Are sustainable weddings costlier?
Voicing his opinion on the co-relation between cost and sustainable weddings, Kidwai remarks that going sustainable options don’t have to be costly. “Making a wedding eco-friendly definitely does not burn a hole in the pocket. Specially, for a property like WelcomHotel Amritsar that offers heritage setting with beautiful lawns, cost-effective initiatives like floral décor and biodegradable cutlery helps to reduce the carbon footprint and are appreciated by all. Moreover, every wedding has many areas where shift to sustainability can be practiced. From transportation to décor or something as minor as limiting the usage of fire crackers,” he asserts.
Baijal feels differently about the situation. He maintains that it is more about people’s personal choice than expenses. “When someone is coming to a five-star hotel for a wedding which is LEEDS certified, they know sustainability is a part and parcel of life. So, the contribution to environment, people and way of life is the criteria rather than the expenses. We don’t look at things because it is expensive or inexpensive. It is exactly like using organic dal or organic jaggery at home – we do it because we care about our health, and the environment,” he says.
Eliminating plastic use
Talking about ending the use of plastic, Kidwai says, “At WelcomHotel Sheraton New Delhi, water is provided in reusable glass bottles and is purified through a new purification system. This means no transportation is used, eradicating the creation of emissions and waste management issues as well as eliminating single use plastic. As far as using biodegradable cutlery is concerned, WelcomHotel Amritsar uses kulhads (cups made of clay), and daunas (bowls made of dry leaves) for select offerings.”
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