10 Ways to Reduce Waste at your Wedding
When it was time for me to plan my wedding, like all things in my life, my immediate obsessive thoughts were “how can I do this without generating a huge shipment of trash to the landfill?”, along with “how can I do this as inexpensively as possible?” And, like most things waste and plastic free, it can be much more economical, too. So, if you are interested in planning a wedding with much less or NO waste at all, and looking to save money, this article is for you.
1. POTTED Plants
I would guess that when it comes to weddings, it is the flowers involved that can be the most wasteful, and can be what really beefs up the overall carbon footprint of the wedding. The floral industry is generally very detrimental to the environment -- all of the agrochemicals used are very polluting to our air, water, and soil; the land used to grow one-time-use flowers can be used for a variety of other purposes (or merely left alone to be the wild nature it should be); the amount of water needed to grow these one-time-use flowers is staggering; and then the whole shipping from far away places thing. Most flowers are grown internationally- mostly from developing and under-developing countries that probably doesn’t have much environmental regulations set in the first place. So there’s that too.
I don’t want to be the Debbie-downer that makes you feel guilty for wanting to have all the beautiful and bright colors in every corner of your wedding, because you SO can still have that. Gorgeous flowers don’t have to be from some random place overseas and be doomed to be brown and wilted within a week. They can still be thriving with roots in pots. Instead of going to a florist for cut floral arrangements, consider going to an indoor landscaping company or plantscape company (yes, these are things -- next time you are in an airport, a mall, or special weekend event check out all of the interior landscaping going on). There is a such thing as ‘renting’ plants for special events, and the companies that rent them can do the installing and designing for you. Here in South Florida, I used Plantique.
2. LIVING Bouquets
Okay, so background and table arrangements can be easily managed by living potted plants, so what about your bouquets? I opted for air plants, which are plants that basically grow hanging onto trees and sucking all of the nutrients and moisture that they need from the air. There are several companies that specialize in making air plant wedding bouquets, and they can throw in splashes of color with flowers here and there. Airplant Design Studio did a phenomenal job with our air plant bouquets and boutineers, with all of them still hanging around alive and well a year and a half later. My bouquet even bloomed a little flower shoot months later!
3. HERBAL Bouquets and Arrangements
Another great idea is using a big bunch of lavender as your wedding and bridesmaid bouquets. After the wedding, the lavender will dry and just smell absolutely heavenly. I wore a lavender flower crown and it is still alive and well hanging in my bedroom. Lavender bouquets and table decorations can also be de-budded post-wedding and the buds can be organized into little baggies for aromatherapy anywhere in your home, and can make great gifts.
4. QUALITY Decorations
Opt for quality wooden signs over one time use decorations. We still have some of the signs we used because they are just so cute. Definitely avoid confetti and balloons. You want your wedding to look classy, anyway, this isn’t your Bachelorette party all over again!
5. NO PLASTIC Cutlery, Plates, and Cups
If you aren’t getting married at a restaurant that already has all of the table settings that you will need, most wedding rental companies will have a variety of table settings to choose from. This can be an easy option for some people, but can be difficult for some venues that have beachside or poolside dining areas that prohibit glass. In those cases, looking into reusable plastic or metal glasses is a much better option than one time use disposable. My wedding was at a venue with a pool so we used stainless steel pint glasses for guests to use for their drinks. We labeled each glass with the guest’s name so that they wouldn’t be lost, and guests were able to take their glass home with them as their wedding gift.
6. CLOTH Napkins and Tablecloths
Rental companies can also offer a variety of colored and textured cloth napkins and tablecloths that they will also collect and clean up for you after the event. Cloth also looks much more classy than cheap throw away plastic or paper napkins and table covers, so while this one might be the more expensive option, it will make a huge impact on the overall look of the wedding.
7. POSTCARD & ELECTRONIC style Save the Dates and Invitations
We have all opened that invitation that was nestled inside a few envelopes and unnecessary foils. It really just does not have to be that crazy. Keeping it simple, like making a postcard or limiting things to one envelope, cuts back on a significant amount of paper waste. RSVP cards and envelopes can be replaced with a website for guest RSVPs, and this also saves on the carbon cost of shipping. Electronic, sent-by-email Save the Dates are also an option instead of physical, Save the Date cards. The less paper, fancy foils, and stamps, the more money saved, too!
8. DRAFT beer and PRE-MADE mixed drinks ready to serve
Have a bar with draft beers and drink dispensers of ice water and mix drinks for bartenders to serve or guests to serve themselves in their reusable cups. This takes away from individual beer bottles and cans from needing recycling, and from more than one glass needing washing.
9. GUEST GIFTS
So many weddings these days include guests being able to go home with a memorial gift of sorts, usually drink koozies or sunglasses. These aren’t so bad because they are pretty functional and more likely to be used moving on, but not all gifts are like this. Be mindful of what you choose to gift. How likely are all of your guests to use your takeaway gift? How likely will it end up thrown away or in a useless goodwill pile? I gave out wrapped handmade soap that guests could use until it literally disappeared, and if they wanted to keep something to remember forever they could just hold onto the wrapper with our wedding details on it. Not to mention the photobooth photographs that people went home with and the stainless steel pint glass with their name on it, I’d say they had plenty to go home with!
10. JUST SAY NO TO BOTTLED WATER!
Have a ‘water station’ with big water jugs where people can refill their reusable cups with, and you can add recyclable paper cups there too (which is better than plastic ‘disposable’ cups). Bottled water is just always a huge no when it comes to anything plastic or waste free!