As the risks associated with global warming and climate change rises, there is an increase with the number of people who are becoming aware of the need to change our lifestyle. While small things we do to save the environment is a great way to start, there are bigger waste producers that we need to focus on as well. One example is having big celebrations such as weddings.
The wedding industry, or celebrating weddings in general, uses a lot of resources and creates tons of waste and carbon footprint. With millions of weddings per year all over the world, these multiply into billions and will most likely increase especially with more people having extravagant celebrations. This has been an existing problem that a few has given light to.
With this, here are some tips on how to be a sustainable bride (or groom!) and have a low-impact, value-based wedding:
Choosing an outdoor venue is one of the best ways to cut down on energy. Venues like farms, mountains, or gardens usually don’t need a lot of embellishments and decorations, thus cutting down the waste you might use for this. Outdoor venues are also efficient, especially if it gets plenty of sunlight, because you can leave the lights off. You can also consider doing both ceremony and reception in one venue as to reduce your carbon footprint from travelling.
Another important thing to consider in choosing a low-impact venue is their policy about plastic, waste management, and other things that could greatly affect the environment. You should also check if they use sustainable materials, solar lights, and energy efficient architecture. It’s also a plus if the place is involved in any conservation works, green charities, or initiatives that support the local community in their area. One example is Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal (pictured above) who advocates conservation, environmental education, and sustainability!
Destination weddings are always a dream. However, vehicles are one of the top causes of air pollution. It’s a good idea to think about how you and your guests will be going to your venue with the least environmental damage. This is especially if you are having a destination wedding. It means a lot of travel will take place either via air or land. Imagine, if you have at least 100 guests, and for every 2-4 guests they have their own cars to drive going to your venue. That is still quite a lot of carbon emissions.
Something you can take into consideration is asking your guests, especially those who know each other, to carpool. Another alternative is to arrange shuttles for them. Not only does this lessen their carbon footprint, it also gives convenience to your guests. It also means your program will have less possibility to be delayed since guests are expected to arrive on time and at the same time. Win-win situation!
In this generation where everything is online, why not opt for digital invitations you can send to your guests’ e-mail or post on social media? You can also setup a website or a page with all the details about your wedding. Going paperless will greatly reduce the amount of waste that you will create since most people just throw these away after the wedding.
However, if you still opt to use paper, it is highly recommended to use recycled materials (which can also be recycled again after) or you can use seed paper which they can plant in their own garden. Additionally, look for a calligrapher to write out invites instead of printing them. Not only did you save energy, your invitation will also look more stunning and bespoke. If you want to take it further, you can also use vegetable or soy-based inks which means no toxic chemicals are given off as it breaks down.
Lastly, your menu and program can be “multi-purpose”. You can print these on a cloth that can also be your table napkin, or maybe on a sturdier material that can be used as fans. You can also just use one paper for both (printed back-to-back). Reducing into one (or two if the table is big/long) menu/program per table is also a good idea to produce less waste.
4. Food and Beverage
One of the things the guests won’t forget about your wedding is the food. It may look hard to achieve, but it is definitely possible to make this sustainable as well.
First of all, choose an in-season local, organic, and sustainably-sourced menu. Not only that this will give you high quality ingredients, it will also reduce your carbon footprint and support local farmers. You can also have a full vegetarian menu or at least 50% of the menu if an all-vegetarian menu is too much for you. If alcohol cannot be missing on your wedding, make sure that you choose local breweries and wineries for beverage service.
To reduce the food waste, you can also consider a serviced 3-4 course plated meal instead of the usual buffet. However, if you still want to opt for a buffet spread, don’t forget to bring reusable containers for any excess food. You can take this home and enjoy it for the next day or you can also give some to other guests who couldn’t get enough of that scrumptious food. If you or your guests do not prefer to take it home for yourselves, you can donate it to a food bank or give it to homeless people. Not only have you reduced your food waste, you have also paid it forward. It’s a great way to give back on your special day!
Another top contender on the most wasteful part of the wedding are souvenirs and gifts. Most of the things we give and receive are not something we can really use. Not to mention the amount of gift-wrappers used which will just be torn apart in seconds and never to be used again.
If you are really dedicated on having a sustainable wedding, look for plantable favors that your guests can take home like succulents or saplings. Another idea is to give away biodegradable packets of seeds which you can buy from local organic farmers or growers.
You can also go for something edible like jams or pastries in reusable jars, chocolate bars in a beeswax wrapper, a bottle of wild honey, or some bag of local organic coffee beans. A souvenir that they can also use, like reusable utensils in a cloth bag or handmade soap, is another good idea that surely won’t produce any waste.
For the gifts, don’t be afraid to list which items you really need or want to receive so that you are sure to use all the gifts your guests will give you. You should also indicate on your invitation that they are very much welcome to give something unwrapped. If they insist, they can use eco-friendly materials or reuse old newspapers/magazines.
If you prefer to receive non-material gifts, you can always ask your guests for a monetary gift that you can either add to your honeymoon funds or as a starting fund for your married life. If you don’t feel this is ideal for you, you can also let them donate to a charity on your behalf instead. Give your guests a list of a few charities you support and from there, they can choose which one to donate to. You may go for environment-related organizations to still be in line with being sustainable but you can definitely choose anything that is close to you and your partner’s heart.
We have to remember that marriage is not about the fancy dresses and decorations, but it’s a celebration of the love and commitment of two people for each other. It’s not a sin to make your wedding day as beautiful as you have imagined. However, we have to take into account the carbon footprint that we produce on a once-in-a-lifetime event like this. We should always be conscious and choose something low-impact. After all, there are always green alternatives out there that can even save you more money and still let you achieve that wedding you’ve been dreaming of.
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Photos from J’s Diamond Jewellery