Thinking of going green for your wedding? And we don’t mean your colour choice, we mean your environmental sustainability choice. Whether or not you are an ardent climate change proponent, the truth is that giving a helping hand to the wonderful world we share with all other living things is a righteous thing to do.
Let’s face it, weddings - especially yours! - are a big deal, and rightly so. However, they can also lead to a big waste if not handled sensibly. But they don’t have to, not if you educate yourself on the options out there and make a conscious effort to go green where you can. Now, that doesn’t mean becoming paralysed by guilt with every decision you make, it just means choosing achievable green solutions that work for you. The world will thank you and in many cases, so will your wallet!
So, to help you throw an eco-friendly event for the ages, we’ve put together a list of environmentally sustainable choices you can use as inspiration for your wedding day.
Now here is where you can find a sliding scale of sustainability. Although wedding invitations are beautiful things to behold, to be honest the overwhelming majority end up in the bin and they can cost a small fortune.
You might want to consider going fully digital with e-invites. No waste - for the environment or for your budget. There are some really great options out there that include easy RSVP facilities. Go spend what you save on something really important to you.
However, if you just can’t do without a physical invitation, then you can still go green by opting for recycled materials. Have your invites printed on recycled board and avoid using shiny bits and bobs like glitter and glued on decoration which will make the invites hard to recycle afterwards.
For other wedding stationery, like the order of service or hymn sheets, you could forego this completely by using a projector at the service. As for the place names, why not incorporate them with the favours so they do double duty - see favours section below for more on this.
We’ve covered this before in our wedding post on flowers, and the advice remains the same. Pick your flowers wisely. Go for in season blooms that encourage natural planting production and bypasses artificially induced flowering. This not only helps the environment, it’s also a budget savvy move to make as in season flowers will be more cost effective.
Check with your supplier that they source their flowers from eco-friendly vendors who avoid chemical sprays and try to use local vendors. Local means a smaller carbon foot print - there’s less travel time and less refrigeration time. And the flowers come looking fresh and seasonal. Local is definitely lekker.
Floral foam, also known as oasis, are single use products and are therefore a waste. Ask your florist for wire mesh or water vase alternatives, or better still, you could consider potted plants instead of cut flowers. Now that’s the really eco-friendly way to go.
Petals are one of the best solutions for green confetti. They are beautiful, natural and biodegrade. Perfect really, although they will cost more. Choose smaller petals because they will have a more impactful cascading effect when thrown.
Some folks use coconut instead of petals and there’s no doubt the visual effect is simply stunning, however, you’ll need to tread carefully here as some folks do suffer from coconut allergies.
You may want to consider adding herbs into your confetti mix. Again they are natural, biodegrade and, with the added bonus of the gorgeous smell they exude, they are well worth including in your confetti mix.
And for a truly budget friendly eco-conscious option - leaves are free and completely biodegradable. Grab handfuls and, using shape punches, press out smaller shapes - hearts, flowers, stars - that will float and flitter beautifully with no need for cleaning up.
Firstly, avoid all things disposable - paper plates, styrofoam cups, plastic straws and cutlery. Ok, for most of you this is not going to be an issue especially if you are at a venue that provides the cutlery and dinnerware. However, it’s worthwhile keeping an eye out for any pesky plastic at the table or bar.
Secondly, go seasonal for your menu. This encourages sustainable food production and reduces the additional costs from sourcing out of season ingredients. Also, ask your caterer if they source from local organic producers who farm/produce ethically.
As for the drinks, the same applies. Try as far as possible to source wines and beers from local distilleries to lower the environmental impact and it’ll make your wedding more authentic and original!
For eco-friendly venues, choose ones that already have the physical structure to hold a wedding along with most of the necessary paraphernalia on-site. If your venue has the room, furniture, dinnerware and linen already there, it’ll reduce your wedding’s carbon footprint significantly compared to having to transport everything in and out including a massive marque.
And, of course, venues with beautiful natural surroundings and rooms with loads of natural light can also help reduce additional emissions and waste from having to include decor items and it’ll help cap the electricity costs.
Favours are delightful things, but they can easily end up being discarded at the table after putting a serious dent in your budget. Be smart when it comes to wedding favours and choose options that are likely to be used or consumed and are good for the environment.
Edible favours are always winners. They usually get gobbled up without any waste. Have a look at our post on South African favours for some edible inspiration. Another fab idea is to have the favour do double duty as a name place to cut down on paper usage. Think iced cookies in your wedding colour with the guest’s name, or potted plants with the pot bearing the guests name.
There are plenty of great ideas out there for favours, so if you’d like to go super green, also be sure that if your favour needs packaging, its eco-friendly and recyclable or reusable. Glass and card without glitzing embellishments are ideal here.
That’s it, folks, just a couple of ideas to get you on your way to hosting a sustainable wedding. Remember, when the waste is ditched, then getting hitched is all the more enjoyable!