You know someone is truly devoted to a cause when it pervades all aspects of their life. When Nithin, a 27-year-old petroleum engineer from Ernakulam, got married to Neethu, a doctor, they decided to have a ‘Green Protocol’ wedding to do their bit to save the environment.
A ‘Green Protocol’ wedding is simply one in which plastic and other non-biodegradable articles, including disposable glasses and plates and thermocol decorations, are avoided at marriage functions.
So at Nithin and Neethu’s wedding at Keezhillam in Ernakulam on December 30, guests were in for an environment-friendly affair. Not only that, the wedding got a seven star rating from the district administration, which Nithin believes is a huge achievement for the concept.
It was Nithin’s brother-in-law Shine Varghese, an IT professional based in Kochi who is into environmental activities, who convinced him that the concept would work.
Shine – with his friends Dr Manoj, a waste management researcher, Gopu Kesavan and P Biju who are also into pro-green activities – has been involved in several environmental-friendly endeavours, and the green protocol wedding was the latest among them.
The four likeminded friends who were unwavering towards the cause began with implementing Green Protocol in the National Games held in Kerala in 2015. K Vasuki had just assumed charge as Director of Suchitwa Mission, Kerala’s nodal agency for sanitation. At that time, the four met her with the proposal to implement the Green Protocol for the mega sports event which the state hosted.
“Along with Vasuki we met National Games CEO Jacob Punnoose and the then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and convinced them about the concept. Finally it got approved. It turned out to be a success, that too at an event in which people’s participation is huge,” Shine, who works in Infopark Kochi, told TNM.
Then onwards they have been presenting the idea before whomever possible, which has made the concept of ‘going green’ more popular. It was later implemented at the State School Kalothsavam, the state run art festival for school students every year; during the well-known pilgrimage to Sabarimala, in which lakhs of devotees take part every year; and at the annual pilgrimage to Malayattoor.
“All the events have large people’s participation and are very popular, hence implementing the concept at these events has had huge impact. Coming to weddings, we won’t be able to approach all who get married, but at least those who would listen to us. By following the concept in a wedding, it was brought to a community rather than only to a few individuals,” Shine said.
At Nithin’s wedding plastic was avoided completely. It is the first time that a Green Protocol wedding has got a seven star rating; previous weddings held with the concept have only gotten a maximum of given five star rating from the concerned district administration.
“The highlight was we were able to reduce food wastage to a minimum. Normally in a wedding with nearly 1,300 participants, the food wastage would be about 300 kg. But at this wedding it was reduced to less than 70 kg,” Shine said.
Disposable material was avoided in decorating the wedding venue as well. Even the wedding card was made with reused paper.
“I was interested in the concept of Green Protocol. As someone working in the energy sector, I’m aware of the damages this sector causes to nature. But only after Shine and friends convinced me, I became confident of following it for my wedding,” Nithin, working in Abu Dhabi said.
Posters informing guests not to waste food were put up at the dining hall.
“The guests also cooperated. The cost of conducting a green wedding is almost the same as that of a normal one, if we coordinate well with the event manager. The event management and the catering team also cooperated well, without which it wouldn’t have been possible to make it a success. For the caterers, avoiding plastic glasses and plates is really difficult as they need to wash the used utensils, for which they need more staff,” Nithin said.
Recyclable waste was also collected from the wedding venue and some of the items were reused for the decorations. Thermocol was avoided and replaced with wood.
“It was the first time that our event management group conducted a green protocol wedding. The impact it created was really positive. It was hard to hang up posters about not wasting food fearing that guests might take it as an insult. But everyone cooperated very well. The food wastage was very low as compared to other weddings. Also switching over to a green wedding was a bit difficult for us as there were no disposable materials. But we got over it by assigning more staff,” said Albin Kuriakose, one of the directors of Red Wine Event Management group, which was the event planner for the wedding.
Albin is getting married on January 20 and he has decided to follow the green rules inspired by the response to Nithin’s wedding.
“Only if I follow it, I will be able to take the experience to others,” he said.
Nithin is happy with the response to his wedding and the fact that it motivated Albin to voluntarily decide to follow the concept at his wedding.
At a wedding reception in Kerala in September last year, the decorations were made entirely with coconut leaves and bunches of tender coconuts that brought back a whiff of the past.
More recently, in November last year, a wedding in Salem was held on an island that was created by the groom himself. Aravind of Salem has been involved for more than five years in creating several islands as part of the restoration of the Mookaneri Lake in Kannankurichi. So when he decided to get married, he couldn’t think of a better location. Twenty-seven-year old Aravind is an active member of the Salem Citizens’ Forum that is into lake restorations since 2010.
The certificate for the seven star rating for the wedding was presented to the happy couple by MLA Eldhose Kunnappilly.