Climate change and global warming is currently a hot topic (pardon the pun). Compared to generations past, we’re all much more aware of how small changes to your day to day life can have a big impact on the health of the environment. We cycle, we recycle, we shut the fridge door and we try to keep printing to a minimum…
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But have you thought about the environmental impact your wedding could have? Maybe not your first thought but they’re hardly the greenest of events; there’s food waste, disposable decorations, plastic everywhere and the carbon footprint of your guests’ travel to start with. We’ve compiled 5 areas that with a little extra thought can help your big day to have a small impact on the environment and you might even save some money!
Invites and stationery
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Think reduce, reuse, recycle.
Reduce – Instead of sending physical invites, why not send out cute e-invites and/or start a cool website or facebook page where you can show off your theme, add regular updates and create online photo albums for guests to upload photos afterwards? No paper used, no money spent and nothing lost in the post!
Reuse – Give your invite a longer lifespan by making it reusable! Have your invitation printed onto a tea towel, a tote bag or a magnet so that people will be able to treasure it and use it for years to come. Brownie points if you choose an eco-friendly print house like The Cotton Bag Co.
Recycle – Choose recycled paper for your stationery and encourage your guests to recycle the invite. One of the best ways – have your invites printed onto seeded recycled paper so your guest can plant their invite and enjoy wildflowers in their garden! Avoid glitter, ribbons, glue and other embellishments – these make it unsuitable for recycling so take that into account when choosing your design. Vegetable and soy based inks contain low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which give off toxic emissions as they break down so speak to your printers about inks available.
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Combine your place cards and wedding favours by opting for a personalised edible! Biscuits or chocolates are already favour favourites and by adding the guest’s name, you’ve got a favour and place setting in one. Check that the baker uses sustainable packaging and the job’s a goodun!
Little bags of homemade confetti or biodegradable confetti with a guest’s name on also kills two birds with one stone and prevents wildlife suffering from tiny bits of plastic clogging up the environment.
Guests’ travel carbon footprint
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Travel to your wedding could produce the biggest part of your big day’s carbon footprint, especially if guests have to fly. By choosing a venue that’s close to where most of guests will travel from is an easy way to immediately reduce this footprint. Got guests coming from all over or got your heart set on a venue abroad? Ask guests to offset their carbon footprint by using companies such as Gold Standard instead of asking for a wedding present. To be even greener, you could match whatever they offset to cover the whole wedding’s carbon footprint!
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Food is a must at a wedding, but it doesn’t have to cost the Earth (literally). Ways to reduce the environmental impact of your wedding catering include..
Choose local – find caterers that have an eco-friendly ethos, links with local farmers and opt for seasonal produce already or, if your venue has in-house catering, speak to the chef as soon as possible to find out where the food comes from and if there are local alternatives to vegetables such as asparagus being flown in out-of-season with tons of packaging.
Choose meat-free – this is a controversial choice (we’ve all got through and through carnivores in our lives) but the environmental impact of meat and dairy is HUGE! Why not choose a veggie friendly cuisine for your wedding breakfast? Southern Italian, Korean, South Indian and Mexican food are all incredibly easy to enjoy without meat plus it’ll be a something a bit different for your guests! Convinced there’ll be some guests who just won’t be happy without meat? Let guests know that their meal will be meat free but offer an opt in when asking for dietary requirements, the same way veggies and vegans normally opt out.
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Choose a sustainable cake – using a local, organic bakery for your wedding cake is a great way to boost local economy and serve up guilt free cake! If you want added guilt free brownie points in the form of a vegan, gluten free, vegetable packed cake but without compromising on taste or wow factor, then check out the consistently creative creations of Cabbage Patch Bakery. Beccy Weston’s designs are all made following her Cake-mix Manifesto which is enough to make anyone have another slice!
Choose individually plated meals – this is normally more costly than buffet style food, but the waste is considerably less! And the leftovers of buffets, especially sharing platters, isn’t salvageable whereas you could ask your caterers if you could share any leftovers on apps like Olio.
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A wedding without flowers is like a wedding without a dress – modern and unconventional. While some couples choose to go flowerless, most couples want to adorn their big day with beautiful blooms. But with a hefty price tag and a large carbon footprint sometimes attached, choosing flowers that don’t hurt the earth they came from is a green boost to your wedding.
Local and seasonal – just like food, the best way to reduce the carbon footprint of your flowers is to choose local and in-season flowers for your arrangements. They tend to be more budget friendly too! Double check that your florist uses locally grown flowers and not just a local wholesaler, who might still import flowers. Florismart is a great website for finding local florists who specialise in British flowers and you can see which flowers are in-season on the date of your wedding and where to find them.
Still got your heart set on those exotic, definitely-never-grown-locally flowers? Why not think about faking it?? Good quality artificial flowers look just as good as the real McCoy, especially mixed in with real flowers, plus you can keep your favourite flowers as mementos forever.
Avoid floral foam – commonly known as Oasis, avoid it like buskers singing Wonderwall – it sticks around as long as the song sticks in your head. It doesn’t decompose and the chemicals in it can leach into the water and air, making it especially harmful to wedding venues surrounded by nature reserves like the stunning Thicket Priory. Biodegradable floral foam is available so check with your florist that they use it.
Donate your flowers – it won’t reduce the carbon footprint but it’s a beautiful way to spread the love and give flowers a longer lease of life if they’d be thrown in the bin otherwise. Get in touch with hospitals, care homes and churches who might be happy to take them.
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You might not be able or willing to implement all these ideas, plus there’s a MILLION different and imaginative ways to make your wedding eco-friendly, but like in everyday life, small changes make a big difference. If any of these ideas have caught your eye or you’ve chosen to do something similar at your wedding, leave a comment below and share with friends who are engaged eco-warriors.
Keep it green guys!