Planning a Zero Waste Wedding

Krista Miller, ZWH

As you rethink how you organize your wedding in order to reduce waste, and ultimately your wedding’s carbon footprint, you must start with a commitment to sufficient advance planning, an emphasis on starting with prevention strategies,  and integrating zero waste principles in all planning and contracts with caterers, florists, purchases, facility selection, invitations, registry items, etc. 

There are many considerations, but here are a few basic pointers for your zero waste wedding event planning. Some strategies work better than others, depending on how large your guest list is. 

Reusable/Washable Table Service. Consider providing glass or ceramic cups and plates for guests to take home as mementos. Cloth napkins and utensils can be rented or purchased at second hand stores. Many reception facility rentals include the use of an on site dishwasher. Ask a friend or family member to help launder the cloth napkins and linens (many times a caterer also offers this service). 

Food Waste. Support the local community by catering with a local restaurant or food vendor. Reduce both your food waste and spending by choosing plated food. Donate any unused edible food to your local food pantry and contact your local composter/pig farmer/chicken farmer to arrange a drop off of the food waste. 

Location, Location, Location. Destination weddings can leave very large carbon footprints. Keep your wedding close to loved ones to not only make it easier on your wallet (and everyone else you invite) but also to cut down on that footprint (to avoid having to throw another party later for everyone who couldn’t make it anyway). Try to choose a venue with composting and recycling built-in. 

The Invitations. Choose a stationery company that prints on 100 percent post consumer recycled paper or seed paper that is biodegradable/sprouting into flowers. Or make them yourself from cards gleaned from second hand stores (host an invitation making party and have your friends collage/modge podge some creations!). 

Flowers and Bouquet. Ask your local florist to use seasonal blooms and flowers from local farms. Foam-free installations avoid waste. Instead of using cut flowers for centerpieces, use living plants in ceramic or glass containers.

Decor and Mementos. Keep decorations to a minimum to ensure a low amount of waste when the event has ended. Keep a guest list with emails so you can send photos and thank-you’s electronically. 

The Registry. Honestly, do you need more stuff? Keep your registry gift wish lists local and minimal. Specifically request gifts be wrapped or packaged sustainably, not in plastic. Consider recommending that people donate to the public library in your name or another local non-profit (wink wink). 

Disposal Stations. Create clearly marked disposal stations/bins for CRV (buy back recyclables), for utensils and dishware (if you don’t have a caterer), food waste compost, cloth napkins, etc. 

The Exit Toss. Petals or dried herbs are biodegradable alternatives to celebrate your union. 

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