While weddings are most definitely beautiful, they often produce much more waste than any of us realize. That's why we need to make conscious and informed decisions to make sustainable choices wherever we can. From choosing an in-season menu to subbing out your plastic cups, here are 10 easy (and affordable) ways to make your wedding eco-friendly.
Disclosure: We only recommend products we would use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post does not contain affiliate links and Aster + Birch does not earn a commission through these recommendations.
Did you know that the average wedding in the United States produces around 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons (yes, TONS!) of CO2? With an average of 2.5 million weddings per year, that's 1 Billion pounds of trash and the equivalent of 4 people's carbon emissions in a year in just one day (and that's just the U.S).
Those are some scary numbers. But, I promise you, there are small changes you can make in YOUR wedding that will help.
Now, we are well aware that there is no such thing as a true zero-impact wedding and that some amount of waste is inevitable. But we, at Aster + Birch also believe that it's the little things that matter, and if we, as a society make those little changes (that are super easy!) whenever possible, we send a message to the rest of the industry that these things matter.
There are so many parts and pieces to a wedding that it would be impossible to go through each and every one of them in one article. So, we broke it down into the simplest, most cost-effective, and attainable solutions if you're looking to make your wedding a little more green.
So without further ado, let's get into it!
Select Sustainable Paper
If you Google "Wedding Stationery", you will find a million results for all sorts of printed paper products to incorporate into your wedding. While many of these you could simply skip if you wanted to (I mean, hey, when's the last time you kept a wedding program?), what about the ones that are must-haves? Like your Save the Dates and Invitations? Is there a way to reduce your paper waste without giving up those time-honored, and truly special, stationery items?
We recommend sourcing a handmade paperie like Inquisited or Lumaca Papers, or searching for stationers that use sustainable materials. There are so many good options for this: Seeded paper, recycled paper, tree-free bamboo paper, even elephant dung paper! (Yes, you read that right). And just because we want to cut down on our paper waste doesn't mean we shouldn't be taking care of our stationer friends! So just remember, pay for quality over quantity.
Opt for Online RSVPs
In the age of technology, paper RSVPs are becoming outdated. While you most certainly should mail physical invitations, we recommend setting up an RSVP manager on your wedding website and include instructions and a link on your invitation. Alternatively, you can include an RSVP card in your invitation suite and have the website link on that. Although the second option does not change the amount of paper you'll be using, you will still be decreasing the amount of postage used and the ground/air travel it would take to return the cards by mail.
Bonus! It also saves YOU money on return postage and you get your responses faster- so it's a win-win!
Support Creatives who Shop Local
Since we're on the subject of reducing transportation costs, another great way to go green is by supporting creatives who shop local. Start by asking your potential creative team where they source and store their materials. If they're a florist, do they get their flowers from a local nursery? Does your caterer get their ingredients from a farm nearby (or better yet-grow their own!). What about your dress shop? Are their dresses made in your state, the USA, or overseas? These are some of the questions you can ask to strike up a conversation about their sustainability efforts. When we shop locally, not only do we stimulate the local economy, but we tell the market that we care about where things come from. And generally speaking, the fewer transportation costs required, the more savings are passed down to the consumer (that's you!).
Choose an In-Season Menu
Regardless of when you are getting married, there are always foods that are in season and out of season (think fruits and veggies). The more in-season foods you choose for your menu, the tastier and higher quality they will be. Not to mention they usually cost less than their out-of-season counterpart and your caterer will have better access to the ingredients!
When caterers are asked to prepare foods that need off-season ingredients, they aren't able to find them at the local farmers market and are forced to source from stores that get their supply through cross-country or international shipping (and we're trying to REDUCE transportation, remember!) So when you and your wedding planner are interviewing caterers, ask for their input on what's in-season. Of course, if you have your heart set on a particular menu, perhaps adjust your wedding date so that your ingredients will be in-season for your area.
Ditch the Disposables
We get it. Paper and plasticware are cheap and easy.