Reducing waste and your carbon footprint is a huge task, especially in regards to your wedding, an event that's inherently waste-prone because of the number of people you're feeding and accommodating. Even so, there are plenty of vendors out there who share your passion for the environment and want to work toward making responsible choices. While you may not be able to save the planet with just one wedding, there are some small changes that'll at least leave you feeling good about your impact.
Invest in Reforestation
It's impossible to have a wedding that's entirely carbon footprint free, but consider ways you can offset the rather large carbon footprint. Maybe this means investing in a reforestation initiative in your community or turning to a non-profit like One Tree Planted, which plants a tree with every dollar you raise or donate. Instead of favors, you could give money to a reforestation non-profit in honor of each guests who attending your big day.
Work with Vendors Who "Get It"
There are a number of wedding vendors who share your passion for the environment. Find them and work with them because they're the ones who will act responsibly on your behalf. Take someone like Nicole Sillapere of Sillapere Events, for example. She says, "No more masses of stuff! I love a giant floral chandelier as much as the next person, but I guess I'd like to see more chandeliers made from waste stream products. We've had a lot of fun with that challenge. Employing artists, craftspeople, and creatives feels so much better than importing a million roses from across the planet wrapped in seven layers of plastic with toxic chemicals in abundance."
Plan a Smart Menu
It's well known that eating lower on the food chain is better for the environment, with the raising of livestock being responsible for a big chunk of greenhouse gas emissions. You don't have to go full-vegetarian for a wedding, but consider making some easy swaps to include a few vegetarian courses or hors d'oeuvres and eating lower on the food chain. As well, you should work with a caterer who's able to use only organic, local, seasonal foods.
Consider a Ceremony in a State or City Park
The fees you'll pay to the park are a great way to support its infrastructure. You might even consider paying more than the suggested amount if this is a park you love. And don't worry, there will be a team on-hand to deal with waste management and ensuring the park is left just as it was found. Community farms are also great venues to support and can be well suited for rehearsal dinner venues.
Give Back to Your Local Environment
In lieu of favors, consider making a donation to a local green initiative you feel passionately about. You can choose to tell guests about this donation by mentioning on it on your menu cards, or keep it to yourselves if that's more your style. If you really want to have fun with this, you could ask guests to match your donations in lieu of bringing wedding gifts.
Say No to Plastics and Disposable Products
Saying no to plastic waste is surprisingly easy in the wedding industry, as there are many rental companies out there that offer reusable plates, glasses, flatware, linens, and more. But when it comes to plastics, they often sneak up on us in unexpected places. Are the welcome bags you're putting together filled with disposable items? Are your wedding favors made of plastic? Consider small changes you can make to be more eco-responsible.
You can reduce wedding waste in a number of creative ways, from hiring a caterer who cares about recycling and composting to working with a florist who will use floral scraps in a smart way. If reducing waste is something you'd like to focus on, it's important to let your vendors know when you start working with them. They might have suggestions for tactics that've worked well in the past and they may be more solution-oriented about this than you'd think.