Beyond a trend: Slow Living and Sustainability as part of our business ethos.
At the beginning of the year I was very pleased to see that various wedding blogs forecasted sustainability as one of the 2020 wedding trends.
Now, beyond the trend (because those come and go), I am a firm believer that as a person and as a company, I have a responsability, a calling, to make my utmost for the good of people and planet. As someone whose work is tied to the celebration of love, I want to make every effort to ensure that every element of that work is in itself LOVING.
Slow Living and Sustainability has been part of our lifestyles for many years now. It has been a journey that started slowly almost a decade ago. As I reflected on the impact of our choices, as my awareness of the enviromental crises and modern slavery grew and as a shift on my perspective of time happened, my values and the way I live life have also been transformed.
The Slow Movement started in Italy (goodness, how I love italians!), advocating a cultural (and I would add a mindset) shift . As its founder Carlo Petrini shared, slow living is "about removing yourself from the quickened pace of daily life, getting back to basis, taking time to appreciate the small things and rekindling conviviality. Not just a question of opposing slow to fast, but rather highlighting important dichotomies, like carefulness and carelessness or attentiveness and haste"
Slow Living is about living a life that is meaninful and fullfilled. It emphasizes a less-is-more approach, focusing on the quality of life. In short, Slow Living is about a sense-filled, present and holistic approach to life.
Sustainability is about making choices that are socially responsible when it comes to people, planet and profit. Its about ensuring the quality of life everywhere and avoiding the depletion of human and natural resources.
As I see it, they both go hand in hand, as two links of the same chain. They flow out of one thing: LOVE. Love for God and his creation, love for my neighbor (in a globalized society, my neighbor is also the person living across the globe!) and love for myself.
So I knew that If I proclaimed that I loved God, that I loved people and that I loved myself, then my actions and consumer’s choices needed to be in tune too, at every level of my life.
When we started dreaming about Avodah, it was clear to us that our values and lifestyle needed to spill over. Therefore, since the very beginning we have put into practice those things in our company.
But now, how do we practically live out Slow Living and Sustainability in our business and how do we approach them in our events? Here are some of the ways we do it:
We always aim to create an atmosphere of rest, beauty and intentional presence (I prefer the way the Swedish translate mindfulness! Thank you Stina!) in all of our events, weather that be a wedding, a workshop or a retreat. No matter the place and time, we make sure that, both with our poise and work, we invite people to slow down and enjoy life to the fullest.
Research, research, research. There is a lot of greenwashing out there, so we make sure that we do our research when it comes to different design elements.
We love to use sustainable materials in our designs! Creating with natural wood, recycled textiles, plant-dyed fabrics, vintage finds and re-useable everything are some of our favorite things! I am so grateful to have a creative husband who is also a carpenter and an all together handyman with whom to go crazy and excited with our projects!
We collaborate with creatives with similar values. By supporting the growth of small businesses, specially local ones, we reduce our footprint and contribute to the betterment of society. Since we seek to inspire couples to make ethical choices, every time we create a wedding editorial we make sure that it features vendors with a personal, slow and ethical approach. Wether that be a jeweler who is committed to acquiring gemstones and metals responsible sourced, like Leïla Buecher, a slow fashion dress designer like Luna Bea, or gathering elements from fair trade brands, custom made by artisans or even upcycled!
We avoid plastics like the plague haha. In our events we discourage the use of plastics and any single use item (think paper napkins, plastic cups, plastic straws, disposable coasters, balloons, etc) Not only do we think is aesthetically displeasing but single use plastic is one of the bigger pollution issues in the world too! There was one wedding last year where we made 300 cocktail napkins from vintage fabrics to be rented and used at their cocktail hour.
Since the very beginning, we have made a commitment to not use floral foam in our floral designs. Floral foam, a single use plastic derivate, is full of chemicals and its essentially a carcinogen. It breaks down in to dust that is labelled harmful to the skin, and if inhaled, harmful to our respiratory system. These chemicals also leaches in to the water, it doesnt break down in land-fill and add to the microplastic pollution problem, as it can be eaten by a range of freshwater and marine animals and affect their health.
We use chicken wire, kenzans and a range of custom made reusable mechanics. There is more time spend in logistics and thinking of those mechanics, specially for large installations, but its been such a wonderful process, one that has help us develop our creative thinking and problem solving, not to mention that makes our flowers happier!
As much as possible we use local and/or seasonal flowers. We have loved collaborating with the local self service garden Mille & Une Fleurs , using their flowers for our events and even hosting workshops there. Unfortunately we cannot get more Swiss flowers as we would like, because other producers don't want to sell them to us (their argument being that I don't carry a official florist diploma ( no portfolio or proof of other education have change their minds, so...too bad for them!) We also collaborated with growers in the Riviera dei Fiori in Italy, and have build relationships with our providers (At our requests, they send the flowers wrapped in newspaper instead of plastic!) So far, we only get a very minimal amount of flowers from Holland or England, but we hope to grow more special blooms in our garden soon!
We suggests our brides and grooms to encourage guests to take flowers home (without our vases and kenzans of course!) and any leftover florals we either donate or dry for future projects. So, no wasting flowers here!
Whenever possible we get asylum seekers and refugees to help in our work process, making sure that we honour their time and efforts with a fair or even above fair wage.
For our intimate celebrations dinners we get our produce from local farmers, artisans and markets. For other ingredients, specially dry goods, we get them at bulk stores with our containers to avoid all the plastic packaging.
We are very attentive and thoughtful about the ingredients we select and the flavours, taking time (because thats the major seasoning of good life!) to prepare in the best possible way the food, making everything from scratch and carefully deciding the way it is presented and how to create an inviting and warmth atmosphere to make it a fully sensorial and convivial experience. We want people to give the act of nourishment the importance it deserves, we want people to take time to linger and take pleasure in the flavours, to gain a better understanding and relationship with food, to bring intentionality, creativity, imagination, commensality, conviviality, celebration, back to the table.
We have been pushing ourselves to discover new products, ancient varieties, and local versions of known products from overseas (we are loving the feta, tofu, mozzarella and other ingredients made locally!) That helps us to impart a local twist in our world cuisine inspired menus!
These are some of the main ways that we try to put into practice Slow Living and Sustainability in our creative business. I am sure I could mention some more, but I'll leave for there now. I am off to help Simon and Matias prepare the ground for our garden.
Some of our future dreams include have a growing garden to cut our own flowers and plant herbs and veggies, to employee and give education to refugees on a regular basis, as well as building a space full of hope and beauty for people to come rest, create and celebrate.
We dream of a better industry and a better society and and we sure go the extra mile to be part of the change. We are not perfect and we are constantly assesing and growing. Remembering the why keep us on the path where there is the temptation to go astray. So, we ask ourselves: Is this GOOD? Is it CLEAN? Is it FAIR? Is it BEAUTIFUL? Is it RESTFUL? Is it LIFE-GIVING?
DOES IT HELP THE WORLD AND THE PEOPLE IN IT TO THRIVE AND FLOURISH?
“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” — Eddie Cantor
Photo Credits: Take a Breath Photography, Meltem Salb & Marion Colombani