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Eco-friendly wedding attire

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Eco-friendly wedding attire

Make a better choice when choosing your wedding dress
When you select the attire for your wedding day, think about the impact the choice you make will have. And avoid clothing that is made in unhealthy, unsafe working conditions. According to the World Health Organization, 20,000 people die each year in developing countries as a result of the chemicals sprayed on non-organic cotton. U.S. farm workers suffer from approximately 300,000 pesticide-related illnesses each year. Five of the top nine chemicals used on cotton in the U.S. are known cancer-causing agents. A problem both in the U.S. and abroad, consumers can really help make a difference. Just refuse to buy anything that was produced by a "sweatshop." You can get more information at different websites like organicplus.com, infomat.com (fashion industry information and search engine), earthspeaks.com, and atoexpo.com (all things organic). Believe me, if you saw some of those places where wedding clothes are made, the pretty white dresses dancing around the bridal magazines would really start to look pretty drab. So keep the spirit of your wedding joyful, and don't add to the sorrow of other less fortunate people.

Reduce
Say no to white: Get a dress in your best colour and truly dazzle with your unique flair. Did you know that those super-white wedding dresses got that way from a toxic chemical process? Opt for not-quite-white and get a wedding dress made from non-chemically treated, natural, earth-friendly fabric; soy, hemp silk, organic silk, organic cotton, organic wool, tencel and bamboo are the main fabrics available.

Support fair trade: Purchase your gown from a company that practices fair trade. (Fair trade practices include: good wages for workers, adequate employee benefits like healthy work environments, fair hours, and health care.)

Keep it simple: Get a simple dress and add the pretty details yourself.

Buy local: Support a local designer or dressmaker in your area, and there will be little or no cost from transporting the garment from overseas. (Plus, you'll be feeding money back into the local environment, which is a main tenet of eco-consumerism.) Look into local design programs -- you might be able to find a student who will create your gown for you at a mere fraction of the price you would pay for a retail dress. You can be sure that no one else will walk down the aisle wearing the same thing as you.

Don't buy sweatshop: You can do research online at sites like sweatshopwatch.org or consumerreports.org to see if your designer has sound business practices.

Spend less: Keep the amount you spend on your dress to a minimum, and you can reallocate your funds elsewhere, like toward a down payment on a house!

Look for sustainable fabric: Look into finding a dress made from sustainable fabric -- such as hemp silk, hemp cotton, organic cotton, organic silk, linen, soy or tencel. These fabrics are becoming more available and many top designers are integrating them into their looks -- Oscar de la Renta has even fashioned a couture dress out of hemp silk and sent it down the runway.

Support a charity: Do more than just reduce your impact, and buy something to spice up your wedding duds with cotton flowers made in conjunction with Citta and women in Nepal, who use the money to provide health care and education programs for their community (citta.org).

Be creative: Turn your bridesmaids into walking decor by having them carry pretty parasols or paper fans with flower motifs, and then they can all wear their own dresses in matching colours.

Ask the right questions: If the guys do wear rented tuxes, look into the dry cleaning and storage practice of the rental company -- is it healthy? Do they use toxins that are harmful to humans and the environment? Ask the question, and perhaps you can inspire a change if it has not taken place yet.

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Excerpted from Eco-Chic Weddings by Emily Elizabeth Anderson. Copyright 2006 by Emily Elizabeth Anderson. Excerpted by permission of Hatherleigh Press, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

Reuse
Wear your mother's dress: Can you wear your mother's dress? Or maybe your grandmother, aunt, cousin or friend would welcome sharing their own gown with you for your special day.

Share your dress: Pick a dress with a friend, sister or cousin who is also getting married and make a pact to share the dress between the two of you. This will give even more meaning to the dress because it will hold such special memories for both of you.

Borrow something: Wear accessories lent to you by family or friends, rather than purchasing new items. This will also take care of the "something borrowed."

Use earth-friendly dry cleaning: It's better for your dress and better for the environment. Don't wrap it in plastic -- the chemicals from the plastic could ruin your dress. Put it in a box (with no window) wrapped in non-dyed paper. Store it in a mild, dry climate -- a cedar closet would be ideal. You will ensure someone, someday can wear your dress on their wedding day.

Get your gown at a trunk show: Trunk shows tend to be where designers sell their sample dresses -- dresses they've used in runway shows, advertising shoots, and other events. Dress sizes can vary, based on whether it went down the runway or not. Though you may need to do slight alterations, you can find some pretty amazing items this way.

Don't buy any one-time-use items: Don't get the typical bridal shoes that you'll only wear once -- get a pair of strappy sandals, or simple flats, then dress them up with ribbons or flowers (fabric flowers -- they don't get crushed on the dance floor). Bags, wraps, shoes, and any other accessories for the bride and the bridesmaids should also be able to be reworn again and again.

Avoid the look-alike look: Ask yourself, do you really need to have all of your bridesmaids dressed in the same exact dress? Or can you simply choose a style and a colour palette and let the girls get dresses that suit them better? You can have them all wear the same wrap, shawl, jewelry or flowers so there is a degree of symmetry for the photographs. Think of this as a way or warding off the proliferation of waste that fills our landfills. Suits, shirts and ties worn by the groomsmen should also be things they will wear again after the wedding.

Avoid throw-away flower girl dresses: Spruce up a simple dress that can be worn again with a sassy sash (you can even make the sash yourself). Add ruffled collars, strategically placed bows, an organza overlay, or a tulle underskirt; your flower girl dresses will be one of a kind, and the girls will have dresses they can wear for everyday.

Customize with details: Turn your girls into real flower girls by temporarily sewing paper or fabric flowers all over a simple sundress. After the wedding they'll have something they can keep, with or without the flowers. Fabric appliqués are another great way to customize a plain dress and turn it into a one-of-a-kind creation that your girls will be thrilled to wear again.

Let the men wear their own suits: The men can wear their own dark-coloured suits, with their own ties. Whenever my husband wears his suit and tie from the wedding, I think of our special day!

Unify with matching ties: As for your men -- yes, you can have them rent tuxedoes, if this is what you want. Or you can have them wear their own black, blue or khaki suits -- unify the look with matching ties, boutonnieres, or cummerbunds.

Recycle
Think ahead: Get a dress that can be remade into a fun, flirty cocktail dress post-wedding.

Help someone else: Donate your dress to a charitable organization and help make someone else's wedding dreams come true.

Invest in recyclable materials: Natural fabric that hasn't been dyed or treated with toxic chemicals is not only healthier for you, but it is more beautiful and richer feeling than chemically altered material. You can also be sure it will be recycled someday rather than seeping chemicals back into the earth in a landfill.

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Excerpted from Eco-Chic Weddings by Emily Elizabeth Anderson. Copyright 2006 by Emily Elizabeth Anderson. Excerpted by permission of Hatherleigh Press, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Eco-friendly wedding attire

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