Today’s weddings face a growing problem: they have a big impact on the environment. Think family and friends’ travel, venue, food and drink, entertainment, invitations, flowers, and the energy it takes to keep the whole production flowing. The average wedding generates over 56 tons of carbon emissions. That’s similar to the amount of CO2 produced from an entire year of energy consumption for 6 homes. Couples are increasingly sensitive to how the wedding of their dreams will impact the planet.
Thankfully, there are many ways couples can reduce the environmental impact of their wedding and host a more sustainable event. We collaborated with Blue Nile, the world’s leading online retailer of diamond engagement rings (including lab-grown diamonds), to share our best advice for hosting a more sustainable wedding.
Ways couples can reduce the carbon footprint of their wedding
Few brides would give up the tradition of finding the perfect dress for their wedding, but the dress is a source of emissions. The environmental impact of the fashion industry is massive. The textile industry is responsible for 10% of all CO2 emissions globally.
For example, polyester, the most widely used manufactured fiber for wedding gowns, is made from petroleum. Instead, brides can search for organic, environmentally responsible fabrics. They can also look for a pre-owned dress. There are plenty of online sites for purchasing a gorgeous, second-hand gown. And do the wedding party a favor by simply choosing a color scheme and letting them wear dresses or suits they already own.
Food is a major part of any celebration but it is also a major part of your wedding’s carbon footprint. Couples should implement the 100-mile seasonal diet rule to make sure your food has low emissions through travel. In other words, try to refrain from going with the tropical fruit platter unless, of course, you’re in the tropics.
Farm-to-table catering is a must. Choose local bakers for your cuisine and wedding cake and ensure they’re using local, organic ingredients.
You can also make your sustainable wedding memorable by going vegetarian. Meat is one of the top contributors to methane, one of the world’s most potent GHG gasses. By going vegetarian, you can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding and slow down climate change.
You should avoid bottled water at your sustainable wedding as well. Sure, it’s convenient, but the bottle is made from plastic – a material with a high carbon footprint. Plus, it is destined for a landfill, where it won’t degrade for years. In the U.S. we are blessed with safe tap water, so purchase a refillable container instead and fill it up as you go. Besides, a beautiful container is much fancier!
Picking the right venue is a major part of reducing the carbon footprint of your wedding. Guests traveling to and from the venue represents a whopping 73% of its total carbon footprint, while overnight accommodations eat up 11%. First, opt for a local wedding. Your friends will thank you for a reduced cost, your community will appreciate the business, and Mother Nature will be grateful to you for not burning all that jet fuel.
Second, pick a venue with a place to stay for guests so everyone can walk to the event. Third, let nature reduce your electricity costs. Instead of lighting and air- conditioning a large venue, opt for the outdoors. You don’t even need an ocean view: Explore nearby parks, gazebos, and botanical gardens, and you’ll inevitably find the perfect spot.
Decorations are another reason to have your wedding outdoors. With the beautiful weather and summer flowers in bloom, you get instant living décor. If you end up indoors, choose local and in-season flowers.
An easy way to ensure your blooms are “green” is to buy local. Anything that has to travel a long distance or needs to grow in a greenhouse during its off-peak months affects the environment. Also, make sure any cut flowers are organic and sustainably grown.
Even the invitations have a footprint. Are you sending those by mail and then to a landfill? Skip printing your invitations and use an online greeting to invite your family and friends. Digital sites now design stunning and unique invites, saving you big bucks and eliminating waste. Most people will get information about your wedding from your wedding website, so there’s no need to print directions or details.
Are your party favors and decorations just amusing trinkets destined for the dump? Give out sustainable party favors that won’t end up in a landfill where they contribute to global warming. Try things like plant-able cards, potted plants or food items.
Wedding Carbon Offsets:
Even if you do your best to minimize your footprint, there are always impacts you cannot avoid. Carbon offsets can help bridge this gap. Calculate your wedding’s remaining carbon footprint with the terrapass events carbon calculator and purchase carbon offsets to make your wedding carbon neutral.
The money you spend supports a project that eliminates the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere. If you don’t have the time and information needed to footprint your wedding, terrapass also offers the Green Wedding Carbon Offsets product. Couples can offset the carbon footprint of their wedding simply based on the number of guests attending.