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Love is in the air, as the UK catches up with its backlog of happy couples that were set to tie the knot during the pandemic. But with all the excitement involved, as well as the stress of tracking down the perfect venue and a floor-filling band, it can be easy to forget that these big celebrations come at an environmental cost. The typical UK wedding generates around one-third of a tonne of solid waste, and 14.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide — more than the average Brit contributes in a whole year.
With that being so, here’s how you can cut down on waste and shrink the carbon footprint of your special day, without compromising on style.
After finding your dream venue, you’ll of course want all the important embellishments to decorate it with. To save the stress and expense of purchasing trimmings that may only be used once, we recommend opting to hire these instead.
Large table centrepieces, glassware and linens are widely available on loan from wedding vendors, and you won’t have to then dispose of them yourself either, therefore reducing your carbon footprint. What’s more, these could act as your ‘something borrowed’!
The improper disposal of single-use plastics used for balloons and confetti contributes to plastic pollution. Similarly, glittery invitations and plastic-wrapped wedding favours make effective recycling difficult for venue staff and guests alike.
However, environmentally-safe and recyclable options are now readily stocked by sellers, so that you can keep all the traditional elements to have and to hold, while minimising your waste. For example, dried flower petals are biodegradable and make for stunning confetti, while recycled material invitations are very on-trend. As for what’s left, Bywaters offer dry mixed recycling services in order to collect and process recyclable materials for reuse.
Picking your flowers
Most would consider them a must-have — and although beautiful, wedding floral arrangements can be massively wasteful. Aside from their obvious fate of being binned after the big day, many flowers are sourced internationally and travel great distances to reach their destination, incurring a significant carbon footprint along the way.
Nobody will tell you to miss them off entirely, but sourcing local growers and wildflowers at the florist can reduce your environmental impact. A recent study showed that the average British-grown bouquet generates just 10% of the emissions produced by importing an equivalent from the Netherlands.
Once upon a time, a plant-based wedding breakfast would be a big talking point among guests, and a contentious one at that. Nowadays however, we all know plenty of vegetarians and vegans, and the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet are well understood. The UN has said that the meat and dairy industries collectively account for 14.5% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, roughly equivalent to what’s produced by every vehicle on the planet.
As a result, demand has grown for plant-based options, and many caterers now offer a crowd-pleasing selection of veggie favourites that can be enjoyed by meat-eaters too. Even if you’re not up for committing all the way, swapping out a few dishes with non-meat alternatives can be an easy green fix for your meals.
Local produce is offered by many rural venues, but you could also enquire about regional breweries and wineries to save on sourcing beverages from further afield.
As for the bottles, glass is entirely recyclable and one of the easiest materials to reuse. Bywaters offer glass recycling services to ensure your bottles are sustainably collected and sorted.
Home is where the heart is
The biggest step you could take in shrinking your day’s carbon footprint might be to keep it close to home. Though few of us have the facilities (or desire) to host a wedding in the house, choosing a more local venue that is accessible for your guests is time, money, and planet-efficient, particularly as it encourages friends and family to carpool instead of travelling individually.
Ultimately, there are many ways big and small that you can make the happiest day of your life a sustainable one too — and this list covers just a few simple changes you could make. For events waste management on any scale, Bywaters can help. Learn more here or get a quote from one of our events experts.