In the bustling city of Shanghai, Yang Yin celebrated her wedding in a way that starkly deviated from tradition. Opting for simplicity, eco-friendliness, and cost-efficiency, Yang’s wedding festivities were minimalistic. With just 20 close relatives in attendance and a low-key dinner at a hotel, the occasion lacked the presence of a wedding host or a cameraman. Instead of grand gowns and suits, Yang and her spouse donned regular hoodies. The most surprising twist? The couple took a bus to the venue.
This shift from grandeur is indicative of a new trend budding among China’s younger generation. Gone are the days when couples yearned for extravagant celebrations. Today’s youth are leaning towards intimate, sustainable ceremonies. Among these modern nuptials, “carbon neutral weddings” are capturing the hearts of many.
These ceremonies are meticulously planned to leave the tiniest carbon footprint. Everything, from decor made from recyclable materials to vegan dishes, is chosen to minimize environmental impact. Furthermore, couples are buying carbon offsets to neutralize the emissions produced during their big day.
Zhong Hao, a 27-year-old environmental enthusiast from Shanghai, took two months to design his carbon-neutral wedding. He ensured to use second-hand essentials, chose new-energy vehicles for transportation, and even suggested high-speed rail for guests traveling from afar. The banquet menu featured more vegetables and less meat. As someone involved in the environmental protection industry, Zhong viewed his wedding as an opportunity to showcase and share his eco-friendly ethos.
Another prominent figure in this green movement is vegan rapper, Zhang Renhuan, affectionately known as “Vegeta.” He held a vegan wedding in a suburban Shanghai public park. Not only were all the foods and drinks animal-free, but Vegeta and his bride also made efforts to align their ceremony with the “5R” eco-friendly principle: refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle. Their celebration was devoid of fireworks, and they maximized digital mediums to eliminate paper use. Remarkably, their wedding aligned with the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, making it an occasion that benefited both the couple and the community.
China’s commitment to reaching peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 is resonating deeply with individuals like Vegeta and Zhong. Their weddings were meticulously detailed to third-party agencies, which calculated the carbon footprint. In comparison to the whopping 62 tons of carbon dioxide reportedly produced by an average American wedding, Vegeta’s emitted just three tons. This amount was offset by contributing to an eco-friendly farming biogas project in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
For many, the meticulous planning to ensure an eco-friendly wedding might seem daunting. However, as Zhong points out, the process offers clarity and demystifies the often abstract concept of ‘low-carbon.’
These green weddings signify more than just a fleeting trend. Sociologist and educationalist Hua Hua, from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, believes this shift underscores the growing environmental consciousness among China’s youth. It’s a testament to the successful promotion of the “new-era” marriage and childbearing culture by the Chinese government, which opposes lavish weddings and outdated customs.
As weddings symbolize the union of two souls, they have always been open to interpretation and personalization. In today’s age, it’s heartening to witness young couples incorporate sustainability, making their special day beneficial for the planet as well.