The wedding of my middle son a few weeks ago was a magical – even mystical – experience. Talk about “sustainability” – this traditional Jewish wedding was replete with rituals connecting two unique individuals to each other, their ancestors, and a common heritage.

Yet admittedly, environmental and social responsibility in a Green Street USA sort of way was not top of mind during the evening. And now I’m kicking myself, ruminating about missed opportunities, tunnel vision and selfishness! So, upon reflection, here’s are the Top 3 missed opportunities that a more responsible and entrepreneurial-minded version of me would have planned for that night:

  1. Mass transit (or electric bus) for all! While a few busloads of guests did arrive from Brooklyn (motivated I’m sure by cost and convenience rather than carbon footprint concerns) and there were a few Teslas out there, internal combustion engines ruled the parking lot. Next time: electric vehicles – or at least offsets – for all!
  2. Carry in/Carry Out. While I’m sure we minimized single-use disposables, thinking about the environmental footprint of food and drink service for 400 otherwise makes me cringe. Volumes of water down the drain – definitely. Packaging and logistics waste – no question. Food waste – absolutely. While I suspect the venue uses EPA Energy Star and WaterSense-certified appliances, I’m pretty sure they haven’t yet invested in energy-saving, water-reducing and timesaving Plate Scrape devices! Clearly, the invitation should have included: “This is a carry in, carry-out wedding – please bring your own sustainable bagasse containers for leftovers or otherwise pre-arrange your food waste donations.”
  3. Greener – and Audited – Grounds. The venue’s outdoor space, where we held the cocktail hour and ceremony, is exquisite: Manicured shrubbery, arboretum-quality flowers in full bloom, and beautifully maintained mature trees, with chandeliers dangling from their branches, create a perfect wedding ambiance. But I can’t help but worry about what my pre-event natural resources audit would have revealed. Are the plants all native? Are the chandeliers powered with renewables? Are the shrubs maintained with electric power tools? And wait, do they use a smart sprinkler system? Clearly, the time we spent selecting the menu would have been much better spent reviewing my audit report!

And my questions don’t end there. Were the restrooms supplied with bamboo toilet paper? Could a Green Street USA-supported risk management or safety plan have prevented guests from lighting those fire sticks, “crowd surfing,” or blasting confetti? And how was the bouquet sourced?

But then I come back to reality and think of what we did do right: we DID use electronic invitations; my wife and the bride DID rent their dresses; and most important, we DID, after all, witness the marriage of two people in love with, and committed to, each other, their communities and their future. Now THAT’S sustainability!

And anyway, with two other still unmarried kids, I have a couple of other chances to live and learn. Sustainability is a journey after all!

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