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How to Host an Eco Friendly Wedding

It’s summer, it’s wedding season, let’s talk about how and why you should consider hosting an eco-friendly wedding. It might seem stressful to have to think about the planet on your big day, but your perfect wedding shouldn't cost the earth and the environment is one guest that cannot be kicked off the list. We are facing a climate crisis that demands us to make change, even on our special day, but don't worry, the smallest actions can have the biggest impact when it comes to global warming - we just have to act now.


First of all, what is an eco-friendly wedding? It can best be described as a wedding that incorporates sustainability into all elements of planning, such as clothing, decorations, location and even food! The reason to do this is simple - for the sake of our planet. Climate change is likely to be the greatest cause of species extinctions this century as global temperatures continue to rise at rates that threaten the existence of precious ecosystems and human life. One day of sustainability is a small ask for the overall good of our planet.  


In 2019, a total of 219,850 marriages took place in England and Wales. Imagine if even half these marriages had eco-friendly weddings. Imagine how many materials could have been saved from landfill or never being worn again. The wasted food that could have been donated at the end of the day. The single-use plastics that could have been swapped for recyclable materials, or local weddings that would reduce the carbon footprint of numerous plane tickets. 


There are so many ways to host an eco-friendly wedding that are fun, inexpensive and will actually wow your guests. Choose to be intentional on your wedding day and be conscious of what you actually use and need. I’m sure you’ll end up saving yourself a lot of money too. 


Clothing


What you decide to wear on your big day is one of the easiest changes you can make to be more ecological. For many women there is a lot of pressure to look perfect on their wedding day. This can include wearing a dress that is expensive, brand new and will most likely never be worn again. And it makes sense somehow - your wedding day isn't like any other and you shouldn't have to compromise sustainability for style. But why not buy a dress that you can repurpose, or even wear again someday? 


Many designers use repurposed textiles to make unique vintage dresses and if you found a secondhand dress that you love, why wouldn't you wear it? A 2016 study found that Italy, Portugal, Austria, and the UK were the largest producers of textile waste in Europe. In 2016, the UK produced approximately 206.5 tonnes of annual waste, of which 3.1 kg of waste was accountable per person. Out of 3.1 kg, only 0.3 kg was recycled.


Second hand clothing is more affordable and ethical than most high street brands and it is well known that fast fashion accounts for so much unnecessary global waste. If you opt for slow fashion and buy pre-worn dresses, suits or shoes, you will be spending a considerable amount less to look just as good. If you feel like you can’t commit to a second hand wedding dress, maybe go for accessories or bridesmaids dresses instead? Try to buy clothes for your wedding that can either be worn again, or made into other items or keepsakes. Items that have been borrowed or gifted by friends or family can be incredibly sentimental and great for the environment. 


It’s also a great idea to find a makeup artist who uses vegan products and brands that are cruelty free or even vegan. Most makeup companies don’t test on animals but still use animal derived ingredients such as beeswax, carmine, or even fur. It’s easy to ask your makeup artist for products that are both cruelty free and vegan, or you can easily supply the products yourself. Well known brands such as fenty, elf, the body shop, KVD makeup, cover FX and glossier, to name just a few, are cruelty free and vegan.     


Food


Now this one might not be so easy for those who have a taste for meat and dairy - but a vegan diet is one of the greatest changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint. It has been found that someone who eats meat has a carbon footprint that is well over double that of someone who is vegan. A 2014 Oxford University study compared the diet of around 15,500 vegetarians, 2000 vegans, 8,00 pescatarians, and 29,500 meat eaters who were all put on a 2,000 calorie diet and categorised by their age and sex. 


The result showed that ‘an average 2,000 kcal high meat diet had 2.5 times as many GHG emissions than an average 2,000 kcal vegan diet.’ GHGs emissions are gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that are released into the earth's atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Participants who ate more animal products had a much higher amount of dietary greenhouse gas emissions per day than those who ate few or no animal products. Dietary ghg emissions are based on how a meat or dairy product is produced, transported, and how much the animal is fed and the cultivation of this feed prior to slaughter. Beef production exerts the most GHG emissions of any meat. 


You don’t have to be vegan to reduce your consumption of meat and dairy, but why not go all in for a vegan wedding? After all, it’s only for one day. Of course, a sustained decrease in animal consumption is better for the planet in the long run - but a plant based menu is one sure way to impress your guests. There are so many catering companies who are dedicated to delivering an entirely plant based food service for your wedding. You could go all in with appetisers, main courses, cocktails, drinks, and even your wedding cake. It might be fun to try food you wouldn’t usually go for, and who knows, you might be inspired to recreate a dish or two.


Decorations  


This has to be one of the easiest and most subtle ways to host an eco-friendly wedding.


Instead of throwing traditional confetti at your wedding that is often made up of microplastics, try wildflower seeds or confetti that is made out of dried leaves or flowers. The seeds will scatter and grow into beautiful flowers, or at least decompose into the soil. You can also buy hole punchers that are shaped like hearts or stars to make your own natural confetti out of beautiful autumnal shades. 


Confetti is likely to be left on the ground because it is made out of microplastics that are difficult to pick or even find once released into the air. Research has found that microplastics can take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down, and in the meantime cause havoc on the environment. Wildlife are susceptible to mistaking brightly coloured microplastics for food and will harmfully ingest plastic that can be chemically treated. 


Go eco friendly and use dried flowers for your table decorations, rather than fresh flowers that are often imported and will only last a few days. Dried flowers can be easily preserved and even given out to guests as wedding gifts. You won’t have to worry about how fresh they look on the day and you can buy locally picked wildflowers as opposed to bouquets that have been grown and picked abroad. 


Alternatively, you could also buy fresh flowers locally and press them once they begin to wilt after your wedding day. The real issue with wedding bouquets is if they are flown in on a plane. Flowers that are flown in on long-haul flights have to be stored in refrigerated aeroplane holds that contribute to global emissions, as do flights. There is a global market for fresh cut flowers and the industry is worth billions. The Netherlands is the world’s largest exporter of flowers, with Columbia being second. Sometimes it is worth buying your flowers from a local florist to save on the air miles and help out the planet. You’ll also be supporting a local business too. 


Have a look around at what you already have before you buy anything. That could be said for clothing and decorations. Small details like vases, lights, glasses, cutlery, bunting, signs, or even name cards can be repurposed with items you might already have at home, or even made yourself. All these ideas are great to take into account, but remember to enjoy your big day whilst you do your bit for the planet. It might make it even more special.


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Tags: #vegan #environment #ecofriendly #sustainable #ecofriendlywedding #veganwedding #weddingseason



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