Going Green has been a growing trend in the past few years. Whether it be joining the recycling movement, starting to eat organic, or lowering your carbon footprint, there are many things you can do to “go green”. But now, couples are taking going green to a whole new level by doing everything they can to have an eco-friendly wedding- they aren’t only dedicating themselves to one another on their wedding day, they’re dedicating themselves to the planet as well. You know, it’s not just all about you, well kind-of.
Here is a step-by-step look at how you can “go green” with your special day by reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Ever see the movie Blood Diamond- come on ladies, I know you saw it just to see Leo speak with an accent. Well anyway, much of what you saw in that movie replicates exactly what is going on in the diamond industry in Africa. Blood diamonds are diamonds that are mined in areas of conflict and the money made off of them actually goes to supporting war in that country. So the first step to starting off your green wedding starts with the rings.
- Reduce– If you are buying a new ring, make sure to research companies to see if you are buying a conflict free ring. Keep an eye out for those rings labeled “conflict free” under the Kimberly Process, which helps work to reform diamond mining in conflict countries in Africa. By doing this, you can reduce your impact on conflict mining around the world.
- Reuse– By reusing a family heirloom ring or purchasing one at a vintage or antique dealer, you are cutting your footprint in half. If you don’t like the style or design of the ring, you can always have it reset or refinished to make it uniquely yours. There’s no better way to go green than by reusing.
- Recycle– Make sure to make a note to your family that you want your rings to be passed down to the next generation when the time comes. You will feel good knowing you are keeping a tradition alive and also making sure the ring doesn’t sit in a drawer for the rest of time.
Let’s face it, you spend all that time designing your invitations, picking out the perfect colors, the best font, your signature seal, and the truth is most of those invitations will be thrown right out after the wedding day. Here’s how you can do your part in lowering your use of paper.
- Reduce– Reduce your paper footprint by using one of the many online programs that help you create gorgeous one of a kind e-vites (or email invitations). Guests can receive the invitation through email and RSVP through the site- making it easier for you to track your wedding guests and their food preferences too.
- Reuse– If you know what seeded paper is, you’ll know why we love it. Seeded paper is a sustainable recycled paper that actually has seeds embedded in paper. Print invitations exactly how you normally would, but after your wedding your guests can dig a hole, bury the paper, water it and watch it grow. Your guests will be happy to see that the invitation was reused and made a beautiful plant in their backyard- and they will surely never forget your wedding with this.
- Recycle– Even if you send e-vite wedding invitations, you still may want to print a few for yourself, your immediate family, and especially your grandparents who may not have email access. Don’t feel pressure to go completely green- invitations make a great piece to frame in your new house, so feel free to splurge on this one. But, make sure you use 100% recycled paper and print with vegetable or soy based ink.
We know it’s the biggest part of your wedding day, and a moment you will probably remember for the rest of your life- picking out your wedding gown! With so many styles and designs to choose from, we know it’s hard to choose just one. But here’s some advice on ways you can make your decision a bit easier.
- Reduce– Reduce the amount of material that ends up in a landfill by choosing a sustainable gown material. Believe it or not, there are many companies that make fully sustainable wedding gowns made from hemp, bamboo or organic silk or organic cotton. Your guests will never know the difference, but you’ll feel good in the dress you’re wearing. Consider the materials in your fiance’s suit and your bridesmaid’s dresses as well.
- Reuse– Just like you can go vintage or buy cosigned with your ring, you can do the same with your ring, you can do the same with your dress. Check with the women in your family to see if there are any special dresses that have been saved, and see if you want to continue the tradition by wearing them. Don’t be afraid to also discuss taking a family dress and making it your own, by taking off the 70’s sleeves or the 80’s bow, you could make a dress that is perfect for this decade.
- Recycle– If you’re going for the more untraditional look, choose a dress that you think you might actually be able to wear again. Tea length dresses, or pale toned dresses can often be used again for the other events. Do the same for your bridesmaids and let them choose dresses then can wear more than just once.
There are several ways you can add special decor and features to your event and also make sure to keep it eco-friendly. Research local decor companies who make sustainability their priority or take matters into your own hands and find products on the internet that fit these descriptions.
- Reduce– Choose flowers that are organic and also flowers that are in season in your local area to reduce the issue of having to ship flowers in from other parts of the country. You can also reduce your impact by choosing centerpieces that are free of plastic and utilize natural objects for design.
- Reuse– Plan to have the flowers and decor used at your ceremony to be reused at your reception. And instead of throwing out flowers and centerpieces at the end of the night, allow guests to take them home and enjoy them for the rest of the week. Also, make sure you save your bouquet and dry it out to be reused in a photo album or scrapbook that you can create later on.
- Recycle– Choose a florist who uses a lot of recycled packaging, decorations that can be recycled, and place cards printed on biodegradable or seeded paper.
The Food and Drink
Let’s be honest about another thing. As years go on, guests easily forget what your dress looked like, what flowers you carried, what songs were playing during the reception and so on…but the one thing that everyone always seems to never forget is the food!
- Reduce– You can reduce your carbon footprint by bringing in food, beer and spirits that are organic and above all local. Ask to see where your venue gets their meats and produce and ask if they can get many of your items locally. Now to the most important part- the alcohol. Do some research to find what local wineries are in your area and see if they can supply the wine and champagne for the night. As for spirits, there are many new organic vodkas and liquors, so do your best to choose those. Same with cake! Choose an organic local bakery that makes their cake free of food dyes and artificial preservatives and do your best to provide guests with fare trade teas and coffees.
- Reuse– Be realistic with the amount of food and drinks you are ordering, we know more is always better, but a large amount of waste from weddings comes from the leftover food. Try saving leftover dinner items for a luncheon the next day and make sure to box pieces of your cake for your guests so that you assure it doesn’t go to waste. You can also partner with local food banks or homeless shelters to have your leftovers served to those less fortunate.
- Recycle– If you use any disposable products, make sure their biodegradable or compostable products that are made from materials other than plastic. Check also to see if your venue has a full recycling and composting system so that all of your wedding waste can be recycled.
And Last But Not Least
- Hair and Make-up– Use hair and make-up artists who utilize organic and natural beauty products. They’re not only good for your skin and hair, but also for the environment.
- Photographs– Make sure your photographer is using digital imaging of course, and try to tell guests not to bring disposable cameras, instead, have them go digital too and upload all of their photos to a sharing site or Facebook, instead of printing them in an album for you.
- Favors– Instead of giving a favor that might very well be disposed of, choose instead to either give an eco-friendly favor like a small plant or seeds, soy or beeswax candles, or organic cupcakes or chocolates. You can also go fully green by having donations made to local charities in your guests honor.
- Transportation– Reduce your carbon emissions by having your ceremony and reception in the same location. Also push guests to car pool as much as possible or to use public transportation and avoid using gas heavy limos or trolleys. Instead, use eco-friendly transportation options like electric cars or horse drawn carriages.
- Honeymoon– You can also continue your green theme by doing your best to keep your honeymoon environmentally friendly. Try to cut down your travel, walk and rent bikes once you have arrived to your destination, eat the local fare and food that’s native to the area, stay at a green hotel, and more!