Your Dream Wedding Can Also Be Green
By Brenda Ryan
There has been so much in the media lately about global environmental issues. From climate change, biodiversity loss and the burgeoning issue of plastic waste, it can all seem so overwhelming. But here’s the good news. There is always a chance to make a difference, and perhaps surprisingly, this holds true especially when planning your wedding.
According to a 2017 Huffington Post article, it’s estimated that each of the 2.5 million weddings that take place in the U.S. every year produces 62 tons of carbon dioxide—that’s more than a single person emits in a full year—and 400 to 600 pounds of garbage.
So why not start your married life together the way you wish to continue—aligned with your values and inspiring those around you. Here are some ways to green your wedding and ensure your special day has a minimal impact on the environment. Let’s look at the three key eco-themes of energy, food and waste.
There is no doubt about it—global warming is the environmental hot topic of the moment. The use of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, causing the current change in our climatic systems. Prognoses are dire, if we continue on this unsustainable path. So how can your wedding address one of the most significant environmental issues of our time? One of the main ways you can ensure your wedding has a minimal carbon footprint is to choose a venue run on renewable energy. For instance, a solar powered wedding. It’s a brilliant option for your special day and for the earth too!
Think too about transportation. How are your guests travelling to and from your wedding? You can immediately cut transport emissions by having your ceremony and reception in the same location. To further minimize all those vehicle emissions, investigate shuttle services for your guests or suggest and support carpooling.
Food, though it may not be so obvious at first, can have a huge impact on our local and global environment. Here are a few things to consider when choosing and/or working with your wedding caterer.
1) Sourcing your food locally reduces food miles as well as supports the local economy. 2) Choosing organic over conventionally produced food helps maintain the health of our ecosystems and conserves biodiversity.
3) Opting for a more vegetarian-based menu radically reduces the carbon footprint of your food. While you may not want to go entirely plant-based for your wedding day, it is worth considering that many studies cite meat-based food production as being just as significant in contributing to climate change, as the energy generation and transportation industry.
Weddings can be a huge source of plastic, paper and food waste. The most sustainable approach to addressing waste is to focus on ways to minimize its production in the first place. Luckily, the wedding industry has many options to reduce waste generation that are both beautiful and sustainable. For example, eliminate the use of disposable materials by opting for reusable napkins, linens, utensils, and décor. There are many great wedding-focused rental companies that offer gorgeous reusable items for rent.
Other ways to reduce your wedding waste footprint, is to opt for eco-friendly party favors, natural send-off options and using potted plants instead of floral arrangements.
The next thing to consider is how to manage the waste you produce in the most responsible way. Here’s where choosing a wedding venue with strong eco practices is important. Does your venue separate their waste materials into recyclables and composting? Do they have clearly marked cans for these waste streams? While not as optimal as using reusable plates and utensils, another eco-friendly option is to use compostable plates and utensils, where composting is practiced.
And lastly, having a truly green wedding isn’t just about minimizing your carbon footprint and reducing waste. A green wedding is also about embedding nature and the outdoors into your special day. We all long for that connection to nature and integrating the outdoors into your wedding day will most definitely be life-giving to you as newlyweds, as well to all your guests.
Brenda Ryan is the operations and sustainability manager at The Cedars Ranch, a new, contemporary, eco-event space and wellness destination in Wimberley designed for hosting weddings, special events, and corporate and personal wellness retreats. For more information, visit TheCedarsRanch.com or download their free green wedding checklist at TheCedarsRanch.com/green-wedding-guide.