Are you determined to have a sustainable wedding? Do you want to make a small environmental impact during your reception? Do you want your wedding to reflect the environmental and ethical values you hold in your everyday life?
According to data sourced by HuffPost, the average wedding produces between 400-600 pounds of waste in just six hours. That’s almost unbelievable, and if you’re eco-conscious, it’s also unacceptable.
If you’re as committed to sustainability as you are to your partner, here’s what you need to do to have an unforgettable, yet eco-friendly and ethical wedding or proposal.
1. Research the source of your gems
Whether you opt for diamonds, rubies, or sapphires, find out where your gems are sourced. Some jewelers, like Love & Promise Jewelers, make it a point to obtain their jewels from conflict-free and fairly traded sources. That’s an important commitment for a jeweler to make.
Instead of looking for jewelry and then trying to research the origin, you’ll have an easier time locating ethical jewelers first and then searching their inventory. Searching this way will ensure you don’t fall in love with a piece of jewelry that wasn’t obtained ethically.
2. Go with estate jewelry
Antique jewelry is always in fashion; it’s timeless. There are so many different styles and unique settings to be found in estate jewelry. The best part is that estate jewelry is eco-friendly because it’s technically reusing something that has already been made. You won’t have to worry about your jewelry making a negative impact on the planet.
The best part is that you don’t need to go to an antique shop to find estate jewelry. You can browse inventory online from shops that will ship to your house. However, if you love antique stores, it’s worth heading out for a weekend adventure just to see what you can find.
By choosing estate jewelry, you won’t be contributing to any additional waste – at least not where your rings are concerned.
3. Use real dishes whenever possible
There’s a big decision to make between using disposable dishes and real dishes. On one hand, disposable plates, bowls, and cups will create a large amount of waste. On the other hand, it will take a large amount of water and energy to wash a bunch of dishes. Which is the better option?
Determining which option is better will depend on how many people attend your wedding and how much food you’re serving. For example, if you have a small wedding with ten people and you’re not serving a fancy 3-course meal, you can easily use real dishes and get them done in about two loads.
On the contrary, if you’ve got 50 or 100 wedding guests, you’ll be doing dishes all night long and using an enormous amount of water in the process. However, you can expect each person to use 2-3 plates and at least 2 cups. That doesn’t include silverware and napkins.
What to do when you have a large number of guests
If you’re going to have a large number of guests, consider using a combination of real dishes and disposable dishes.
For the formal meal, use disposable plates, real glassware, and real silverware. This way, you’ll know exactly how many plates you’ll need to throw away at the end of the night. Throwing away 50 or 100 plates might produce less waste than using water and energy to run ten loads of dishes just for plates.
For appetizers and snacks, use real dishes. People tend to throw away appetizer plates when they know they can just grab another one. Just let your guests know they’ll be given one plate for appetizers for the entire night. If they need to rinse off their plate for some reason, make sure you have a water source available.
4. Hire a catering company that will source organic, eco-friendly food
Work with a catering company that will source organic, eco-friendly food like wild-caught fish and grass-fed, organic beef. You might be tempted to eliminate animal products because of the environmental impact, but hosting a vegan wedding is a bad idea unless all of your guests are vegan. However, you can still source eco-friendly food while including meat and dairy dishes for your omnivorous guests.
5. Compost your flower arrangements
After you set aside the flowers you want to save, compost the rest of your arrangements. Or, take the flowers to a local cemetery and place them on bare graves to give them a second worthy purpose.
You can be eco-friendly and extravagant at the same time
You don’t have to give up extravagance to have an eco-friendly and ethical wedding; you just need to redefine your definition of extravagance to exclude any form of wastefulness. With a new definition, you can have your cake and eat it, too.