The celebration of marriage is a fun and exciting time. As you plan to share the joy of your nuptials with family and friends, make the event extra special by minimizing the party’s impact on the environment. Consider the long-term effects of your wedding and reception by making a plan to purchase sustainable products, minimize waste and reduce energy consumption at every step in the journey.
Starting with the proposal, choose jewelry made from ethically sourced or recycled materials, such as recycled gold or lab-grown diamonds. One example is the Ring Bear brand, a specialist in men’s wedding bands that are comfortable and made from recycled gold and platinum.
As another option, take advantage of family heirlooms for a special touch. Alternately, head to a vintage jewelry dealer to find just the right ring without the need for mining and manufacturing virgin materials, a process that often introduces pollution and human injustices.
Select a venue that prioritizes sustainability, such as LEED-certified buildings or eco-friendly event spaces. Consider outdoor locations like gardens, parks or beaches, which have a lower ecological impact.
Each additional guest adds to the carbon footprint of the event. From transportation to and from the venue to additional food and supplies, keeping the guest list to a minimum creates a more sustainable celebration. Invite your closest friends and family, but give some thought to any “extras” you may feel obligated to invite.
Speaking of transportation, let your guests know your goals as they relate to an eco-friendly wedding. Encourage carpooling, public transportation or provide shuttle services to reduce carbon emissions from transportation.
Times are changing and the digital world has streamlined party invitations, RSVP responses and gift registries. Reduce the amount of paper and ink waste by taking advantage of these offerings. Use digital invitations or organize the event through a wedding website and minimize carbon emissions from shipping invitations to you and then out to your guests.
If physical invitations are preferred, choose recycled paper or plantable seed paper that guests can sow later!
At the event, focus your efforts on reducing waste as much as possible. There are countless ways to go about this. With each decision, keep the idea in the forefront of your planning.
For example, consider renting plates and glassware or ask guests to bring refillable water bottles instead of buying single-use plastic.
Create clearly designated spaces for compost, recycling and redeemable bottles and cans. If you have a guest willing to help, have someone man the station during meal times to ensure items are sorted properly. Otherwise, use signs to help guide your guests during disposal.
Serve up sustainable dinnerware
If you’re having a sit down, formal event, your caterer will likely provide the required dishware, utensils and glassware. If not, you can rent items or even borrow them from friends.
If reusable isn’t the best option, invest in compostable dinnerware and cutlery made from materials like bamboo or palm leaf. For example, Repurpose Compostables offers plant-based cake plates, utensils and several sizes of compostable cups. Similarly, Primeware offers a dinner plate made from sugarcane that is strong, leak-proof and compostable.
When choosing your dinnerware, do a bit of research to establish whether the goods you select are backyard compostable or commercially compostable so you understand the proper way to dispose of them.
Make your wedding venue welcoming and celebratory with live flowers, candles made from natural materials and earth-friendly ribbons made from hemp, jute and other biodegradable goods.
Skip balloons, plastic tablecloths and centerpieces that can’t be recycled or reused. Instead, use cotton, eucalyptus or bamboo table covers and display flowers, gourds, pumpkins or potted plants as centerpieces.
Thoughtful menu choices
When it comes to the menu, decide what type of food you want to serve and then prioritize locally-sourced, organic and seasonal ingredients to support local farmers and reduce transportation emissions. Offer vegetarian or vegan options to reduce the carbon footprint associated with meat production. You can turn the job over to a caterer or even food trucks who run their businesses in alignment with your goals.
To significantly reduce waste and resources required for a meal, plan your event in between mealtimes and make a light offering such as cake instead.
To minimize energy consumption during your wedding and reception, ask about the energy sources at your venue. Prioritize those that invest in renewable energy. Also consider planning the event during the daytime to reduce lighting needs. If you’re setting up your own venue, choose energy-efficient lighting options such as LED or solar-powered lights. Consider using candles or lanterns for a romantic atmosphere, but choose ones made from soy or beeswax.
Remember, hosting a sustainable wedding is a journey, and even small steps towards sustainability can make a significant impact. Make one decision at a time and you’ll be surprised at how many options you’ll find.
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