It isn’t always the most glamorous thing to consider when you are planning your ideal wedding, but waste and how to reduce your waste is certainly more on the mind of the Millennial sorry – I detest that term too! now more than ever before.
A typical British wedding will have produced one third of a metric ton of solid waste and 14.5 tons of carbon dioxide in one day. But what does that actually mean I hear you cry?! Well to put it into an easier comparison, annual carbon emissions per capita in the UK are only 9.1 tons.
It is just one wedding though right? Why do I need to worry?
Now you would be forgiven in thinking that one wedding, well it doesn’t really make that much of a difference with the amount of other things going on in the world. But then when you multiple that by the average 250,000 weddings that take place in the UK a year and we have a problem. It isn’t just the carbon dioxide though, recent research shows that a tenth of all wedding food – equivalent to a food waste bill of almost £500 for an average celebration – is thrown in the bin, which is totally astounding, especially when the average wedding is costing an eye-watering £27k.
Where does it all come from?
When you strip it all back and start to consider the wedding industry; the enormous amounts of food, single-use decorations, bleached and mass-produced dresses worn only once, cut flowers covered in pesticides, irresponsibly mined diamonds and diesel guzzling cars travelling all over the country, printing and posting 100s of save the dates, engagement party, invitations and thank you letters… you really can’t ignore that we should as suppliers do something about this.
A lot of this all stems from tradition and over time we have moved away from simplicity, thanks in part to our love of the Royals (and I am harping way back to the Victorian times now!) but also social media & celeb culture, but maybe it is time to start rethinking and creating new traditions?
We might just be getting there though, as from 2005-2009 Google searches for ‘green wedding ideas’ grew by over 5000%.
What Can Suppliers Do?
Work with your couples and chat about the ethics and sustainability of different aspects of their day and highlight to them areas where potentially this could be increased. Just changing the odd thing can help with creating a more sustainable wedding and quite a few of these changes can be so simple, still stylish and super practical. For example when looking at different reception venues, consider travel and making sure the ceremony is close to the reception venue and perhaps consider laying on transport so guests don’t all drive separately. This can be a fun addition to the day, as well as give guests a rest too!
What Can I do?
Considering bridal dress rental or bridesmaid dress rental to cut down on dress waste in the wedding industry is another aspect we could offer. Gents have been renting suits for eons, and this is service that is so simple. Renting cuts down on costs as well as fashion waste reducing the need for ‘fast fashion’. If renting isn’t your couples dream, potentially consider vintage dresses and reusing beautiful pieces and having them remodeled in line with their own thoughts and vision by a local seamstress. Not only are they not causing any further waste but they will be supporting local makers creating something beautiful and one of a kind.
Vintage dresses make the perfect ‘something old’ and bringing new life to a stylish, vintage gown whilst adding to the history of the dress is just something beautiful.
Something small to do?
90% of cut flowers in the UK are imported mostly from the Netherlands, Colombia and Kenya. Flowers have a shelf life of anywhere from 3 to 14 days, but the average wedding is a mere 5 hours and so perhaps considering working with florists and offering them the flowers back for another wedding could be an interesting idea to not only reduce cost, but also make the wedding industry greener.
A company in America called Bloomrent are setting the scene for this type of ethical and eco-friendly floral renting, which would be interesting to see if it would be viable over in the UK. Potentially consider potted plants or flowers locally grown that guests can take away afterwards for their homes, or if your clients would really like cut flowers, source seasonal flowers from a local organic grower and support the GrownNotFlown initiative.
The easiest eco-friendly thing to do when planning your wedding is just to always keep in mind the footprint of either how they get to you, or you to them. If you are unsure about what to do, look at your venue, your catering and your guests and try to stick to as local as possible.