Monthly Archives: October 2018

My Ideal Wedding

How weddings typically look like – dreamy with lots of flowers and confetti

Image retrieved from Pixabay

While exploring the topic of celebrations for my blog, my lecturer for the ENV1101 module, Dr Coleman, inspired me to think about the environmental impacts of weddings and my ideal wedding. After all, are weddings not the happiest and most significant celebration of a lifetime?

I thought it would be interesting to ask my friends about their ideal wedding. I’ll share the results of my survey as we go along!

Personally, my ideal wedding would be a memorable celebration with my closest friends and family that is as simple and sustainable as possible with minimal flowers and no wedding favours – because wedding favours usually end up in the bin anyway.

In planning a wedding, making it as dreamy as possible is usually the priority, and few would think of environmental impacts as the main consideration. Weddings thus produce huge amounts of trash in the form of food waste and decorations like fresh flowers, place cards, ribbons, and confetti. The average wedding generates approximately 180kg of trash and 57000kg of carbon dioxide (Harrison, 2008)!

Naturally, having more guests would mean more waste generated due to more resources put into making the wedding reception a success. This is partly why I would choose to invite fewer wedding guests, other than the reason that I do not want my wedding to be flooded with relatives that I meet once every few years. And it seems like most of my friends agree with me. Close to 78% of respondents would invite less than 100 guests to their wedding.

In the survey I sent out, I asked respondents how many guests they would invite to their wedding.

However, one result that took me by surprise was that 6 people said they would put shark fin soup on their wedding menu. As much as serving shark fin soup at wedding banquets is a Chinese tradition, I didn’t think that so many individuals from our generation would still support the practice of eating shark fin soup given the extensive media coverage on cruel finning practices. For more information on the harmful impacts of shark finning, check out this post by my friend Shenny.

In this question, I asked respondents to rate how much they agree with this statement. 1 represents “Strongly agree” and 5 represents “Strongly disagree”.

On a happier note, 10-course banquets are increasingly being replaced by live food stations, buffet receptions and dessert tables (Hitcheed, 2018). This may be able to reduce the food waste from banquets as food is made on demand. Leftovers from buffets can also be packed for “take-away”, instead of being thrown away if it was already portioned out at a banquet. There are also options to repurpose wedding flowers via social enterprises like Refresh Flowers for those who wish to reduce their environmental footprint (Chong, 2017).



Harrison, K. (2008). The Green Bride Guide: How to Create an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any Budget. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks Casablanca

hitcheed. (31 Aug 2018). The Best Wedding Trends we expect to see in 2019.

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Chong, C. (21 Sep 2017). Fresh purpose to wedding blooms

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Yi Peng Festival: I See The Light

A scene from the Disney movie Tangled

If you have ever watched the Disney movie Tangled, you would remember this iconic scene of lanterns floating to the night sky as Rapunzel and Flynn Rider sing a romantic duet of ‘’I See The Light’’. But did you know that you can see these lights for yourself in real life?

Next month on the 23rd of November, the Yi Peng Festival will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Thousands of individuals will gather to release sky lanterns to make wishes for the future (Anand, 2017). Apart from the Yi Peng Festival, there are also other sky lantern festivals in the world, like the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan and the Tsunan Snow Festival in Japan.

The magnificent sight from the mass release of sky lanterns at the Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai

Image retrieved from Flickr

But beyond the enchanting appearances of these floating lights, these lanterns pose a serious environmental threat. So much so that it has been banned in 29 states in America (Gabbert, 2015).

Sky lanterns are typically made of rice paper held together by a bamboo or wireframe and contain a candle or fuel cell that allows it to rise when lighted (Pittman, 2017). Though it is ideal that the lanterns fall to the ground after the flame extinguishes itself, they often fly into trees or land on buildings while lit, causing fires. Given the fact that we are unable to control the flight direction of the sky lanterns or where they land, these flying, burning litter can cause forest fires, destroying natural habitats. In 2011, a single sky lantern caused the loss of 805 acres of forests in Horry County, South Carolina (Brown, 2011).

The remains of the sky lantern could also be a danger to wild animals. According to a spokesman of the UK’s National Farmers’ Union, if the metal wire in the lantern is swallowed by an animal, it could pierce through the animal’s stomach lining, causing death (Hickman, 2010). The frames are a potential cause of injury and could also end up trapping animals (Payton, 2016). Furthermore, sky lanterns are a cause of concern when it comes to aviation safety (Hodal, 2014).

Knowing that sky lanterns could possibly kill wildlife or burn down forests, I will never be able to bring myself to release these lanterns. With all these negative impacts of sky lanterns, it is crazy to think that tourists pay up to 380 USD for the chance to release these lanterns at the Yi Peng Festival (Trazy, 2018). Perhaps if people knew about the consequences of launching sky lanterns, they would truly see the light and think twice before releasing them.



Anand, S. (4 November 2017). Why Yee Peng Festival is Celebrated in Thailand

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Brown, M. (20 July 2011). Myrtle Beach fire caused by “Sky Lantern”

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Gabbert, B. (31 December 2015). Update on the legality of sky lanterns — banned in 29 states

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Hickman, L. (2 February 2010). Sky lanterns: beautiful, but dangerous

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Hodal, K. (5 November 2014). Thai authorities threaten sky lantern fans with death penalty

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Payton, M. (22 February 2016). Chinese sky lanterns are fire hazards and endanger wildlife, expert warns

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Pittman, A. (20 November 2017). How Popular Sky Lantern Festivals Can Pose a Threat to Animals and the Environment

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Oktoberfest – The Environmental Oscar Recipient

Have you ever heard of an Environmental Oscar for festivals?

Festivals and celebrations are almost always associated with waste, especially those that serve up food in disposables. One local example is the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar where drinks are sold in plastic bottles or cups, and the food is packed in Styrofoam boxes. In Singapore, waste from New Year Countdown parties amounts to almost 35,000 kg per year (Loke, 2017).

However, there is one festival in the world that has managed to stay sustainable, even landing the city of Munich a project prize for “Environmental Guidelines Governing Major Events” in 1997 also dubbed the “Environmental Oscar” (Department of Labor and Economic Development, 2017).

The Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer and folk festival that originated in Munich, Germany, attracting close to 6 million visitors per year (Bridge, 2018). Despite its scale, this festival serves food on ceramic plates, beer in 1 litre mugs and uses real cutlery, unlike many other festivals that rely on disposables (Department of Labor and Economic Development, 2017). This is partly due to the ban on disposable tableware from 1991 which has reduced trash from the festival by 90 percent (Krause, 2015).

In this photo, festival goers can be seen dining and drinking beer with reusable crockery

Image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

Dirty water from dishwashing is then reused to flush toilets, saving water (Department of Labor and Economic Development, 2017).

Since 2012, Oktoberfest has been powered by only renewable energy, from its food stands to toilets to carnival rides (The Munich Eye News, n.d.). This is a significant amount of energy, given Oktoberfest uses enough power for 1,200 households at 3 million kilowatt hours every year (The Munich Eye News, n.d.).

Rides at the Oktoberfest require a large amount of energy

Image retrieved from flickr

All these green practices make Oktoberfest sound like a dream come true for the environmentally conscious, but just how sustainable is the Oktoberfest, given the 7.7 million litres of beer consumed at Oktoberfest on average (, 2018)?

I thought it would be interesting to consider the water footprint of beer. Water footprint refers to the total amount of water that goes into producing the product. For beer, this includes the amount of water used to cultivate hops and barley. Although there are no studies on the water footprint of beer produced in Germany, studies on other countries have found the value to range from 60 litres to 300 litres of water per litre of beer (Kaye, 2011). That equates to at least 462 million litres of water behind the beer that is consumed at Oktoberfest!

Nevertheless, beer is still much more sustainable than milk and coffee, which have a water footprint of 1,020 litres per kg and 1040 litres per litre respectively (Hoekstra and Water Footprint Network, 2017).

This is why Oktoberfest deserved that Environmental Oscar.



Loke K.F. (1 Jan 2017). After the New Year parties, the big clean-up begins

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Bridge A. (17 Sep 2018). Everything you need to know about Oktoberfest – including how to book a last-minute trip

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Krause R. (21 Sep 2015). Earth-lovers in Lederhosen: Oktoberfest goes green

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Department of Labor and Economic Development, City of Munich (27 Jul 2017). The ecological Oktoberfest: a successful model

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The Munich Eye News (n.d.). Environmentally friendly Oktoberfest

Retrieved from: (2018). The Oktoberfest in numbers

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Kaye L. (16 Aug 2011) Breweries across the world strive to decrease beer’s water footprint

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Hoekstra A. and Water Footprint Network (2017). The global-average water footprint of crop and animal products

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