Is your wedding day approaching? Are you are looking for eco friendly and Zero Waste tips? Or maybe you are organizing a bachelor/ette party with a limited wedding budget overall?
Whatever the reasons, this article will provide you with sustainable wedding ideas, including practical arrangements.
Additionally, we will also give you a few estimates on how much money you could potentially save while helping the planet!
Let’s start with a paramount checklist:
- The wedding planning process will take your time, and that is OK. Anticipating and being organized can help you reduce unnecessary waste and trouble. Did you know that on average, in the UK, 10% of the wedding food is thrown away? (1)
- This includes being transparent beforehand on your intentions and demands to the wedding planner, vendors, and related staff.
- Be creative! And if you are not, ask around for help. Upcycling is key to a successful Zero Waste Wedding. We will share a few practical DIY decorating objects below.
- Be on the lookout for second-hand items. Search for a close-by thrift shop and garage sales in your neighborhood.
- Whatever you need to buy, buy in bulk and bring your cardboard and produce bags. And this is not only for food! Think of glassware, jars for your candles, etc. Your local flea market is the easiest way to start.
- As for food, support local businesses and ensure proper food waste disposal once the wedding is over.
Let’s now have a look at our list in more detail, classified per wedding item or milestone.
How can we write about a Zero Waste wedding without giving our opinion on THE ring? Yes, the engagement one!
To our male readers, rest assured, we will also explore eco friendly options for wedding bands.
For most of us, it all starts with a question and a beautiful piece of jewelry. Let’s then explore our preferred brands.
As usual, opt for the one closer to home.
Catbird - USA (NY)
Created in 2006, Catbird is dedicated to providing the best quality for a friendly price, considering most of the manufacturing happens in their studio in New York or closeby.
It is worth mentioning that all their diamonds are ethically and responsibly sourced. When it comes to brilliant cut diamonds, they are either recycled or lab-created.
As for the gold, they are a certified member of No Dirty Gold. It is an international campaign working to ensure that gold mining operations respect human rights and the environment by demanding sustainable changes in the industry.
Price-wise: from a few hundred USD up to above 10,000 for the most precious engagement rings.
April Doubleday - UK (Devon)
April is an ethical British designer who uses the coastline and rock formations as sources of inspiration.
She only uses ethical or Fairtrade Certified precious metals in her jewelry.
This means using materials that are ethically mined, sourced, or recycled.
Her company is a proud sponsor of the Jeweltree Foundation, which is committed to providing a traceable diamond product (where it was mined and how it was polished).
It is also of paramount importance for her to work with suppliers that have social and environmentally responsible business practices.
On the top of the list are the avoidance of child labor, traceability in the supply chain, and better access to mineral wealth for miners.
Price-wise: you can expect a range between 600 GBP up to 2,500 GBP.
Zoë Pook - AUSTRALIA (Sydney)
As the first pioneering supplier of Fairtrade and Fairmined certified Gold in Australia, you can safely purchase from Zoë Pook with the satisfaction that your ring has been sourced and created ethically.
Why are these certifications crucial? Mines accredited with these labels entail improved working conditions, gender equality, better sanitation, and improved environmental situations.
You could call these ethical mines, as they offer social and economic development for the local community. And, they are committed to functioning without any child labor.
Trained in London, we love the fact that Zoë uses traditional tools and methods, together with modern techniques to create original, durable pieces of jewelry from her Sydney-based studio.
Price-wise: about 1,500 AUD up to 2,500 AUD on average.
Dress and Suit
Instead of spending thousands on fancy dresses and tuxedos that most likely will only be worn once, consider the below alternatives:
- For an authentic zero waste wedding dress, first, try to find a creative sewer! Someone who will be able, for example, to use fabric scraps that would otherwise be sent away.
- Buy second-hand: there are a lot of online websites offering chic attires that look very “weddingish.” A bit of customization here and there, and there you go!
- Rent your wedding dress or tuxedo: yes, you heard that right. Be on the lookout online or close to your place (this applies mostly in major cities, fair enough). Typically, you should plan a budget in between 100 and 300 USD for renting a dress. We mainly use this site (the US only), where dry cleaning is included in the price!
- If the above was not a success and you decided to buy a wedding dress, consider donating it afterward to national organizations such as Bride for a cause, or other local NGOs. Most of them commit to collect and resell wedding dresses to raise money for charity and reduce waste!
Invitations, Guest List And Other Paper Goods
Here are other ways to decrease your wedding waste related to paper goods.
- How about you invite your loved ones to your wedding day, thanks to an E-card? The digital world is becoming more and more fashionable! And, in this case, it will reduce your shipping and printing costs. Additionally, it limits the need to use conventional paper, not really eco friendly, as it usually required cutting trees from virgin forests.
- If you are a paper lover, consider choosing recycled paper or some that is coming from sustainable forests. Moreover, use vegetable ink, and make sure they do limited harm once decomposing. Some inks are even beneficial to the soil and can help to keep it healthy and fertile (2). Apply this best practice for your guest list, cardboard invitations, and why not your seating chart at the entrance of the venue of the wedding.
- Sustainable toilet paper! No worries, we are not recommending that you ask your guests to avoid using TP during the event. Instead, simply opt for a better option in the bathroom: we did a full review of the different options.
For Low Waste Bachelor/ette parties
- Accessories: Here is an excellent example of how you can apply the Zero Waste principles in order. Refuse single use items (whether for decorations, clothes, and the like). Reduce the number of goods to buy (as the saying goes, quality is better than quantity, especially when it comes to drinks!). Reuse and be on the lookout when entering thrift stores or flea markets. Ask around who could help you create DIY – unique – accessories. Lastly, upcycle what you can after the party or donate to a charity.
- Transportation: did you know that Lyft became carbon neutral in 2018? Even though this does not solve the issue of climate change, it sends a powerful message to other transportation companies (3). If this is not an option, choose public transport as much as possible, and consider staying not too far away from the happy couple’s home.
- Activity: for a bachelorette party, we particularly love the idea of a makeup workshop (followed by a memorable photoshoot!), or another DIY beauty product workshop (such as face masks). Whatever you choose, be mindful of your impact on the environment, and whether there could be a more greenish and beneficial for all kind of activity together.
- Opt for locally grown, seasonal flowers to minimize your carbon footprint. Make sure they do not come in non-compostable material such as foam in the centerpieces. Once your wedding is over, donate your flowers to a hospital or a nursing home. And, raise awareness around you on the importance of composting them, not throwing them away with the rest of the garbage (ending up in landfills eventually, releasing harmful chemicals).
- Lastly, consider decorating with dried flowers. Why is this a better, greener alternative? You can reduce your carbon footprint thanks to sustainable preserved flowers at your wedding venue, the city hall, and even at the church itself. How is this possible? Their longevity dramatically reduces waste and related transportation costs compared with conventionally cut flowers (usually imported from far). And, in contrast with fake flowers, preserved flowers are 100% biodegradable (4).
Decoration And Venue Setting
Here are a few ideas on how to reduce waste and the need for single use items at your wedding.
Did you know that, on average, an American couple will spend a bit more than 2,000 USD just for their wedding decoration (5)? Decrease that number thanks to the different ‘R’s of Zero Waste:
- Opt for easily washable cloth napkins, instead of used-once-then-going-the-bin paper napkins.
- Choose authentic tableware and glassware, and avoid plastic disposables at all cost. Paper plates could be an option if you can arrange with the vendors to compost them (be careful, as food stains need to be removed for proper composting!). You could buy them in a thrift store and have a variety of styles and colors on your table.
- Reuse glass bottles and jars, customize them into DIY candles or unique flowerpots.
- Rent chairs and linens, or borrow them if you manage to do so, to decrease the costs even more.
- As for the flowers, as explained above, buying locally and seasonal will often turn out to be cheaper, as the transportation costs are limited.
- Opt for locally produced food and seasonal fruits and vegetable as much as possible.
- Support local farmers and producers, including breweries and wineries! Decreasing transportation emissions is vital to becoming as close as possible to a zero waste wedding.
- Wedding cake: try to determine the size according to the number of portions i.e., guests. Large, extensively decorated cakes are often excessive, and half of it will end up in the bin with the rest of the food scraps. Also, make sure to avoid the use of plastic decorations (which is often the case for a flowerish effect). Edible flowers are the perfect zero waste option for this type of decor items.
- If you have help and sufficient time, why not buy your food yourself? You could, for example, be part of the ‘too good to go’ initiative. This means your wedding buffet could be cooked with ingredients that would have otherwise been thrown away. How great is that?
- You will likely end up with food leftovers: donate them the next day to your guests and surrounding charities. If this is not an option, ask the caterer whether composting it is an option (some recycling centers for professionals can do so).
- Explore your country and ideally avoid planes and cars as transportation means. There are definitely certain places you have not yet had to chance to visit, and now could be the right – romantic – time to do so.
- Consider camping or why not, environmentally friendly glamping. And, try to include volunteering for a service project during your stay.
- Be mindful of greenwashing, and make sure to check on treehugger for reviews on authentic eco friendly hotels, which are being cognizant of their impact on the planet.
Instead of a conventional (often excessive) wedding list, we recommend the below zero waste wedding gift ideas, depending on your ongoing projects and priorities:
- Donations to a charity close to your heart.
- A financial contribution to your future home or in the form of a honeymoon fund, should you decide to travel.
- E-gift cards, to buy music or books online, for example.
- A personalized movie with music, videos, and pictures full of memories and good moments you had with the bride and groom. Something for them to remember all their lives, and watch whenever they want.
- Recycled furniture that you might need in a particular area of your house is another ideal zero waste wedding gift.
- Plants, seeds, or other (nonplastic!) tools for your garden or terrace.
- Time together! Why not pay for an activity, short trip or restaurant along with the bride and groom?
We hope the above list of wedding tips has helped you understand the benefits and potential! of a zero waste Wedding.
If you recently got married, do not hesitate to let us know whether you used any of the above tips! Feel free to share additional best practices as well.
Remember that our purpose at Puratium is to grow the imperfect (but highly motivated!) zero waste community.
Happy wedding day!