Despite all the amazing and awesome things about weddings, there’s also a not-so-great side: waste. Weddings and events can be incredibly wasteful, some of which is inevitable when you’re hosting an event of a certain size and caliber. But there are ALWAYS ways to reduce the waste and environmental impact of your wedding. Most of them are quite easy!
Working with wedding professionals and vendors that prioritize sustainable practices is an amazing place to start, but there’s plenty of actions you can take on your own to create a less wasteful event. So today I’m sharing 10 ways to reduce waste at your wedding!
2. When you can’t rent, thrift! Thrift stores can be a gold mine for wedding items, same with sites like Offer Up and Facebook Marketplace. If you can buy any wedding items second hand (and avoid ordering on Amazon), do it!
3. Did you know that you can even buy wedding dresses second hand? There are a couple stores around the Seattle area that only sell used and consignment dresses: Blue Sky Bridal and Brides for a Cause are probably the most well-known (and are awesome). In addition to being a more eco-friendly option, it’s also an easy way to cut costs on a gown!
4. Avoid plastic cups and other single-use tableware like the dickens! (Real glassware and tableware are also just classy AF.) Even if the plastic cups are allegedly recyclable, they’re always a huge source of waste. And most guests don’t know how to recycle properly, so they’ll likely just end up in the trash anyway,
5. Talk to your florist to find out how you can create a floral design for your event with minimal waste. This can include avoiding the use of floral foam, repurposing as many floral items as you can between different parts of the wedding, and coming up with a plan for flowers at the end of the night.
6. Ask your caterer about leftovers at the end of the night. What do they normally do with them? Can they make sure that leftovers are sent home with others to enjoy? Are the things that can’t be sent home composted?
7. Avoid unnecessary paper goods. Do you need to print 150 programs for a 20 minute ceremony? (Probably not). There will inevitably be some paper items that are needed for your event, and are key to helping things run smoothly, whether that’s place cards or a bar menu. Just take a moment to evaluate ahead of time to determine what’s needed and what’s superfluous.
8. Rethink the signage you use at your event. Things like big welcome signs printed on poster boards are likely items that are going straight to the trash after your event. There’s lots of ways to get creative with your signage! You can rent signs and have a calligrapher do the lettering, or commission something unique that you can save and treasure after your event.
9. Ditch the wedding favors! How many drink cozies does someone REALLY need? But if you are set on the idea of providing guests with a favor, there’s certainly better ways to go about it. The least wasteful option of all would be to forgo physical favors and inform guests that you’ve made a donation on their behalf. If that’s not cutting it for you, edible favors are always a winner. (Who doesn’t want a cookie for the road?) Or support and buy from a favorite local business. You also generally don’t need a favor for every single guest. Many guests will totally forget about them. I always suggest displaying any favors separately instead of placing one at every place setting.
10. Buy local whenever you can. This can apply to so many aspects of your wedding. It doesn’t necessarily imply less waste per se, but it can help reduce environmental harm. Shopping locally allows you to better support small business owners and the local community, while avoiding some of the harms that come with purchasing from big businesses like Amazon.