Weddings are a huge and expensive undertaking and can leave an even bigger footprint on the environment. More and more couples are looking for ways to be more environmentally friendly which can be difficult since weddings are typically associated with hyper-consumption and produce a great deal of waste. Invitations, decorations, food, travel, etc. the list is endless. Unfortunately, many items at a wedding only get used once and are tossed. By incorporating any number of these suggestions for an eco-conscious wedding, you’ll be doing your part to sustain the earth while being a role model for others.
Invitations and Paper
Cutting down on paper invitations is one of the easiest ways to make your wedding more eco-friendly. Opt for post-consumer recycled paper printed using soy ink, if possible. Also consider having guests RSVP online through your wedding website to save on postage, extra paper and printing. Want to eliminate paper all together? Why not go super-eco and send your invitations electronically through a site such as Glosite.com. Be sure to limit the amount of paper during the ceremony and reception as well. Instead of one printed program or menu per person, opt for a chalkboard instead which can be easily repurposed from any picture frame using chalkboard paint.
Flowers and Centerpieces
Flowers can travel thousands of miles from developing nations where harmful pesticide usage is the norm, so why not make a statement and try something a little less conventional? Potted herbs or an array of succulents or terrariums make for great centerpieces, as do old books and simple DIY pinwheels. Make bouquets and boutonnières from one-of-a-kind, hand crafted buttons or vintage brooches. Bring your centerpieces to life with bright colors of organic fruit which doubles as a snack for guests to nibble on. If you’re using candles, opt for soy or beeswax; they burn cleaner and use less soot than their paraffin counterparts. If you must have flowers, utilize locally grown flowers harvested in season or reach out to friends and neighbors who may be willing to donate a few of their own. They’ll be much cheaper and you’ll be supporting local business owners. Repurpose flowers by donating them to a local organization such as a hospital or senior care facility, giving them more than one life after the wedding.
If you feel wedding favors are necessary (I don’t), consider giving organic, fair trade chocolate, homemade jam or honey. Know your audience and think about what they’re apt to use and not waste. You may have good intentions, but what will really get used? Is that CD going to get listened to? Are seeds or a potted plant really going to get planted? Remember, not everyone has a green thumb.
Be original and make a statement in vintage, organic or sustainable materials. A dress can be custom made from a vintage slip and several other unworn dresses that are hanging in your closet. design it so you can wear it again – you can’t get any more eco-friendly than that! Consider a pre-owned dress or rent one, and if you have no desire to keep the dress after the wedding, donate it to a charity that can sell it to create funds and perhaps save someone else from needing to purchase a new dress.
Food and Catering
When possible, use a catering company that sources local, organic, seasonal ingredients to eliminate carbon miles. Minimize the amount of meat on the menu and decrease your carbon footprint even more. Have a strict budget? Plan a potluck wedding and ask everyone to bring his or her favorite summer dish.
If you really don’t need any gifts, don’t ask for them. No one said you must have a registry and think how much better you’ll feel for saving another toaster from heading to the landfill. Another alternative is to register with a charitable registry like the I Do Foundation that donates a percentage of the money spent on your gifts to a charity of your choice. Still thinking you want presents? Consider setting up a green wedding gift registry with a wish list of earth friendly products you’d like (recycled, locally produced, fair trade, etc.).
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
When planning your wedding, be sure as much of your wedding goods has been or can be recycled or used again. This includes plates, cutlery, linens and tablecloths, glassware, etc. (durable is preferred to “compostable”). Thrift stores can be great for items such as vintage, mismatched plates and other serving ware, or sheets which can easily be turned into napkins. Other miscellaneous items can be scouted via swaps, borrowed from friends and family or the neighborhood household goods libraries in North or North East Portland.
Lane’ is a Master Recycler and Eco-Consultant in Portland. For more info go to: http://TheLivingGreenSolution.com/share/ne-home-goods-library/
North Portland household goods library is done through Preserve-n-Serve: http://preserveandserve.org/
NE Portland household goods library is through Nurture / NE Home Goods Library: http://www.nurturepdx.org/share/ne-home-goods-library//
Editor’s note: Botanica Floral Designs specializes in local, organic, fair trade and sustainably grown flowers for weddings, events, corporate accounts and other functions. http://www.botanicafloralpdx.com
Petal Passion can provide bouquets from her local garden in season. http://petalpassion.net