Looking for some ways to have an eco-friendly wedding? You're not alone — more and more couples are thinking about the environmental impact of their weddings. It makes sense given that so many couples getting married today have been raised to turn off the lights, to avoid leaving the water running, to recycle anything and everything, and have grown up witnessing the effects of climate change on the environment. And it's definitely not surprising that these couples are wondering what they can do to scale back on their environmental impact when the average wedding generates 400 to 600 pounds of garbage, and 62 tons of carbon (whoa!), according to the Green Bride Guide.
We all know that it would take a lot of work to eliminate the waste and carbon footprint of the wedding industry entirely, but even with some small basic changes, you can still make a pretty drastic difference on how much your wedding impacts the environment. The key is to be aware when wedding planning that all decisions you're making will have an environmental impact. So before opting to go one way or the other, take a look to see if you can make a decision that will reduce your wedding's effect on the environment.
1. Choose your location wisely
The farther guests need to travel to your wedding, the larger your wedding's carbon footprint. If you can, choose a wedding location that means the least amount of travel for all of your guests. Also, the more people who need to stay in hotels, the greater the carbon usage for your wedding. Realistically, some people will need to travel and stay in hotels, but it's a good idea to try to minimize both.
2. Ask vendors about their environmental impact
Every vendor you hire will impact the environment when providing services for your wedding. When possible, use caterers who source food locally, florists who grow their own flowers (such as flower farms) or use local flowers that are in season, and photographers who provide all digital photos (which is pretty common these days). The more your vendors consider the environment in their own delivery of services, the less negative of an impact your wedding will have.
3. Support companies you believe in
A lot of purchases will likely be made for your wedding: wedding attire, jewelry, gifts, decor, etc. When doing your research to find the best quality and price, also include looking for eco-friendly, fair trade products to purchase — like this gorgeous wedding dress from Tara Lynn Bridal.
Chelsea Frisbee of the Intervale Center, a non-profit organization in Vermont that works to strengthen community food systems and also rents our their Community Barn for weddings, suggests that people also think about how they can give back to organizations that have a positive effect on the local community and environment while wedding planning.
Instead of wedding favors, you can make a donation to a local organization of your choosing and then let guests know you opted for a donation instead of favors people are likely to forget or not use. For a wedding that took place at the Intervale Center, Frisbee described how the couple asked if there was anything that they and their helpers could do while at the venue setting up for the wedding. The group ended up donating a few hours to help with the grounds at the non-profit. Both of these types of donations are a great way to minimize and offset the waste created at weddings.
Frisbee also suggests composting your wedding trash when possible. If composting isn't available through your venue, many businesses will come and pick up your compost for you (some will even transport it by bicycle, further enhancing your wedding's positive effects) for a nominal fee.
6. Choose your registry wisely
You can opt to fill your wedding registry with your standard items from big box stores, but there is a host of wedding registries that are much better for the environment. SoKind Registry has several neat features, including encouraging guests to give experiential gifts rather than material gifts. Nearby Registry helps you to keep the gift shopping of your guests local, which decreases the carbon emissions caused by long-distance shipping. Zankyou is a registry that has a partnership with Greenpeace, so that your guests can easily donate to that organization via your registry. All three are great registries to help you minimize the environmental impact of your wedding registry and all the shopping that generally goes with it.
Would you like more awesome ideas about how to make a positive impact with your wedding? If so, check out the Green Bride Guide for more great ways to keep it green.
For more wedding inspiration, check out Bustle on YouTube.