All large-scale events (yes, even weddings!) produce a level of waste we're not used to seeing on a daily basis. If you want to avoid having your nuptials add to the problem, know that making small changes can have a big impact. Here are a few ways to easily reduce waste at your wedding, starting with making it a priority.
Make waste reduction a clear priority.
Work with your vendor team to create a wedding that's low-waste. Many wedding vendors are clued into waste issues and enjoy coming up with creative ways to reuse and recycle wedding elements. You might be surprised with the experience each professional has in this realm, from your catering team to your invitation designers. In some cases, it might cost a little extra to do something waste-conscious, but it may be worth the spend (like paying a refresh and delivery fee to have your centerpieces taken to a local senior center). Pick your battles and go in with a game plan.
Turn flowers into favors.
Bouquets and floral décor often end up in the trash by the end of a wedding. Given that many of these arrangements are processed a day or two prior to the event and are then left out in the sun or elements for a full event day, they're often not in the best shape to last a few more days. However, you might consider working with your florist to create robust arrangements with longer lasting floral elements, then use them as a gift to guests. If you think you'd like to give your guests the gift of your wedding day flowers, here's a guide to transform them into favors.
Focus on reusable elements.
One of the great things about the event industry is that there are tons of resources for reusable flatware, glassware, table linens, dish sets, napkins, and more. Some couples and their wedding parties even rent their attire for the big day. Embracing these reusable elements of décor and attire can lead to less of your wedding items ending up in landfills.
While solving the problems of wedding waste isn't something you'll be able to tackle single handedly, being smart with every small detail you select goes a long way. Something as simple as serving wine or beer from a keg in reusable glassware makes a big difference when you're serving a few hundred drinks in a night. Skipping plastic straws at the bar and swapping paper napkins for reusable cocktail napkins goes a long way, too.
Be frugal with paper.
When you can, skip out on paper waste. It's tempting to buy up all the paper goodies out there, like individual menus and handheld paper fans, but there's nearly always a better waste-conscious alternative. Use slate boards to write the menu for a whole table and reuse the boards as post-wedding gifts. Select raffia fans you can rent from an event company or sell online for another couple to use when you're finished with them.
Get creative with your reuse.
If you're planning to customize anything at your wedding, or if you're purchasing anything in bulk, think ahead about what you'll do with it after the wedding. You might choose to have your custom table runners or embroidered napkins dry cleaned, pressed, and turned into post-wedding gifts for close friends and family who were helpful throughout your wedding planning. Or, you might be feeling crafty enough to cut those fabrics down and make them into small gift-worthy travel bags or totes.