While weddings are joyful events, it’s also easily overlooked how much of a cause for environmental concern they can be. Everything from an energy-exhaustive venue and guests travelling long distances to the amount of food wasted and single-use plastic decorations used, are potentially unsustainable. For example, 18kg of single-use plastic waste is typically generated by a single wedding in Britain, according to Sky Ocean Rescue, the biggest offenders being plastic cups, disposable decorations and confetti. Meanwhile 10% of wedding food is thrown away, creating an average of £488 worth of waste per reception.
However, despite these concerns, a sustainable wedding is certainly possible. We know how easy it can be to overlook the impact of your special day on the environment amid the excitement of all the planning. So to help you organise a more sustainable wedding, read on to learn some helpful tips.
Use environmentally-conscious British suppliers
Using local suppliers for elements like wedding flowers and catering can greatly help reduce the carbon emissions generated by transporting goods over long distances. For instance, when it comes to your florist, choose one that uses locally grown flowers, and offers in-season blooms, which are far more sustainable. Eco-friendly florists are often transparent about where their produce comes from and avoid plastic, with the likes of London based wedding florist Blooming Haus ensuring that a tree is planted for every couple whose wedding flowers they design.
For food, choose a supplier who uses locally grown seasonal produce and organically reared meat. An even more sustainable alternative could see you swap meat for a vegetarian or vegan menu, which will reduce your intake of factory-farmed meats and dairy products, which are harmful to the environment. As food waste is a common problem at weddings, you should be sure to discuss ways to reduce this with your caterer, such as avoiding a buffet-style meal, or donating leftovers to a local charity.
Pick a green wedding venue
Choosing a green wedding venue doesn’t mean hosting your ceremony in a field or on a farm. Rather, it’s about reducing your energy and resource usage as much as possible. Generally speaking, guests will be traveling long distances to attend weddings, which causes significant carbon emissions from their means of transportation. For an example of this on a grand scale, consider Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 nuptials, which generated around 6,765 tonnes of carbon dioxide, though much of this was caused by guests who travelled from abroad.
To avoid this, pick a venue which is located close to you and as many of your attendees as possible. This will reduce your energy usage as guests won’t need to travel far. Hosting your ceremony and reception in the same location is also a great energy saving option. In addition, a permanent building is more sustainable than a marquee setup, as there’s no need to transport or construct the supplies, helping to further reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, when choosing your wedding venue, be sure to check if it’s eco-friendly. Ask the staff a few questions about its energy sources, the measures it takes to save energy, and how staff deal with waste after events.
Go paper-free, or use recycled alternatives
Paper is most commonly used for wedding invites, but the material can’t always be recycled if it is embellished with glitter, glue or any other additional decorations — even glossy paper is a problem. The ink used can also be an issue, as petroleum inks contain toxic chemicals, so find a supplier who uses vegetable or soy-based inks as a sustainable alternative. Recycled paper or card is an eco-friendly option, as is bamboo paper. To cut out your paper usage altogether, and save money in the process, consider sending your invites by email, though bear in mind that older guests may not have internet access, or be well-versed in using computers. In this case, be sure to opt for suppliers with strong sustainability values for the few paper invitations you do send.
Hire, don’t buy
While couples always book the venue for a wedding, there are many more things you can hire for the day, including everything from the wedding attire like the dress, bridesmaid dresses and tuxedos for the groom, to decorations, furniture and restrooms. Hiring is an especially sustainable method to pick up glasses and crockery, bridal accessories and photo booth props, which ensures that items will get used multiple times, instead of being thrown away after the event. It can also help you to cut costs too, saving you from having to pay full whack for certain items by just handing over a hire fee instead.