How to organize an ecological wedding
Surrounded by friends and family, your wedding day can be one of the best of your life, but it can also be one of the most unnecessary. After the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns postponed many wedding festivities, 2022 will be a banner year for weddings, with around 2.5 million weddings expected. Here’s how to plan a celebration without the high environmental cost.
Skip the destination wedding
While a backdrop of surf and sand can be alluring, the environmental cost of a destination wedding is high. Between 2 and 3% of everything global CO2 emissions come from air travel, and a distant wedding forces guests to fly. To reduce the emissions associated with your big day, plan the celebration centrally, where most friends and family can travel without boarding a plane. Of course, there will always be a few outliers, but consider where it’s easiest for a high percentage of guests to get there by car or public transport.
Choose an environmentally friendly location
In addition to location, choose a venue that prioritizes sustainability: a much easier task these days, as many venues are going green, leaving plenty of options for your big day.
When choosing a location, look for buildings that are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified or Energy Star certified; the Green Building Information Gateway is a great way to find green buildings and venues for any event. Otherwise, look for sites that consider their environmental impact. When visiting a space, be sure to ask questions: how do they handle waste? If food is included, where do they source meals from?
Or, skip the indoor venue altogether and get married outdoors! With a beautiful natural backdrop, an outdoor venue will eliminate the need for lots of decorations – and, of course, the need for lighting or heating/cooling.
Rent all you can
A The wedding day requires many items that you will probably only need once: items that you can choose to rent instead of buying, saving you money and resources. Bridesmaid dresses, for example, are often expensive and will only be worn once. Woman-owned wedding apparel company Borrow Love Return rents dresses for your bridal party, as well as veils, jewelry and other basics for your big day, and The Black Tux has a great selection of formal wear for bride and groomsmen. Local shops may also offer similar services. Plus, you may be able to afford clothes that would otherwise have been out of your price range.
Sustainable wedding bands and engagement rings have become much more common, and you won’t have to sacrifice beauty for durability – and you’ll be commemorating a momentous occasion with an item that’s unrelated to human and environmental exploitation. . Gold mining has a devastating impact on ecosystems and water quality; an estimated 20 tons of waste is generated to create a single golden wedding ring. Instead, buy used gold jewelry to melt down for new rings, designed by you and your partner.
Along with gold, diamonds also require intensive mining and are associated with numerous human rights abuses. For every diamond mined, between 200 and 400 million times more rock must be mined, according to the US Geological Survey. If you don’t want to give up diamonds altogether, use pieces that are already part of the family or buy durable diamonds. Some can be made in the lab and look almost identical to those found in nature, although there is some debate about their true environmental impact, given the energy required to produce them. Visit a sustainable jeweler and talk to them about their practices, such as where the stones are sourced from and whether their lab-grown diamonds are produced using renewable energy rather than fossil fuels.
Registries are a great way to create your shared home together, but when choosing the wedding gifts you want, consider what you really need. If you’re listing at big box stores, only add things you don’t already have or items you won’t be able to find second-hand.
Otherwise, opt for a durable registry. Everlastly offers “Registries for Conscious Couples”, sourcing items from sustainable businesses and rating each one’s environmental impact. Many sustainable businesses will also offer a registry themselves, such as Ecovibe: a Portland-based black and women-owned business that sells household items, kitchenware and plants. Or ask guests to make charitable donations instead of gifts. Pick an organization you want to support, whether it’s a local group or a larger nonprofit.
You can also ask your guests to contribute financially to the sustainable choices you would like to make together in your life — like participating in a CSA, supplying your home with renewable energy, creating a garden, etc. — and use a registry as an opportunity to fund personal environmental efforts.
Mindfully picking flowers
Of all the cut flowers sold in the United States, 70% are imported from Latin America. Each flower must be grown – which requires water, soil and fertilizer – packed and transported quickly. Instead, choose locally grown flowers for your big day, which don’t need to be transported as far and often require less packaging to keep the flowers fresh and intact on their way to the venue. Find local farms or florists that source from sustainable growers and talk to the florist ahead of time to learn about their/nursery’s practices. Seasonal native flowers also cause less damage to ecosystems, but can limit your options depending on the time of year. Use the seasonal selection as an opportunity to organize color palettes and decorations around flower arrangements.
Or, forgo the flowers altogether and instead decorate with potted houseplants, annuals or perennials, which can be brought home or planted in the ground after the celebration. Small decorative plants can also be handed out as party favors at the end of the night. Many plant stores also rent out their inventory for events, so you don’t end up with a forest of houseplants to maintain later.
Renounce unnecessary traditions
Not all marriages have to be according to the book. Many traditions are rather useless and you may find that they don’t add much to your day anyway.
Cut out confetti, for example, especially if you’re partying outside, or use a hole puncher to cut out small pieces of foil to create biodegradable confetti.
Party favors are a nice mark of the event, but can be an additional source of waste. Hand out these little plants used to decorate the tables, or give experiences instead, like a gift card for free coffee at a local coffee shop the day after the party.
Cutting the cake – especially a very large cake – may not be vital for the party either. Some couples even cut a fake cake with only one real layer, then distribute slices of sheet cake or other desserts to minimize waste.
Low impact meals
Providing plant-based foods to guests is a great way to eliminate waste and reduce party-related emissions. According to the Environmental Working Group, serving vegetarian meals can reduce an event’s food-related emissions by 75%, or 90% for vegan meals. Choose a caterer that offers excellent vegetarian or vegan options, or consult with them beforehand to prepare locally sourced meat alternatives or animal products from sustainable sources. Also, make sure delicious food isn’t wasted, like 10% of most wedding food; calculate how much food you’ll need based on the guest list (especially if there’s a buffet).
Recycle and compost
Even with correct estimates, you could end up with paper, plastic and food waste at the end of the night. Without the presence of oxygen, the decomposition of food in landfills produces methane: a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than CO2. Keep food waste out of landfills by setting up a food scraps composting system, perhaps in coordination with a local composting service. Use as few single-use items as possible and have both paper and plastic recycling available for the unavoidable, or invest in a TerraCycle box for all other plastic packaging not accepted by conventional recycling services.
Give the rest
From food to flowers to wedding dresses, much of what’s left at the end of your wedding day can be donated. Take unopened trays of food and other leftovers to local pantries, kitchens or refrigerators; work with an organization ahead of time to make sure they can accommodate your leftovers. Petals for Hope also reorders and redistributes used flowers. Consider donating your wedding dress to one of these great organizations that make wedding dresses affordable for brides, or use the proceeds to benefit a number of important causes (and it’s tax deductible). tax).