Green is the New White – Sustainability for Weddings

Weddings are an essential cultural event in nearly every society on earth – yet, when it comes to the environment, they’re problematic. A single wedding creates up to 56 tons of CO2, according to Berkeley Magazine.

Furthermore, the backlog of weddings halted by 2020 and 2021 is set to create a massive surge in wedding interest over the next 12 months, bringing with it a spike in emissions. At a time of huge demand, there has seldom been a better time to find new ways to enhance the sustainability potential of weddings.

State of affairs

A lot has been done to improve wedding sustainability, and the need for social distancing and greater levels of hygiene has accelerated these changes. Two key trends have personified this.

The first is through the replacement of the items used at weddings with eco-friendly alternatives. That ranges from replacing physical invitations with digital management systems, through to using locally sourced menus to reduce carbon emissions. The second trend concerns the size of weddings.

Bigger events typically attract larger carbon emissions; Town and Country Magazine has highlighted the shift towards micro-weddings in 2021, alongside elopements. Vastly reducing headcounts and the environmental impact of the big day itself has had a big impact on the overall footprint of weddings.

More to be done

There are positive trends to be seen in creating a greener wedding industry, but more remains to be done. One key area concerns flowers. Floral decorations at weddings are a key part of many cultural identities, and bring with them an inherent sense of nature and green-ness – asking couples to remove plants from their big day seems counter-intuitive.

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However, as Washingtonian Magazine outlines, the international flower trade can be incredibly damaging due to the wide usage of microplastics. It’s the only reasonable way to keep flowers protected over long distances.

As with many questions concerning sustainability, it’s about reducing the unnecessary movement of goods and vehicles and keeping it local. A move towards local goods is the only way forward – and sets a pattern for the rest of the wedding planning cycle.

Making it local

There are so many strands of wedding planning that can be reverted to local sourcing. First and foremost is the big day itself – keeping the venue, and inviting local family and friends who are concentrated in that area, reduces costs and emissions.

Then it’s all about the day itself, and the various things that may once have been seen as unthinkable but make a lot of sense today. Preloved, or hand-me-down dresses; ethically sourced jewelry, preferably made locally; the use, exclusively of local businesses.

Changing the wedding industry into one entirely focused around local, sustainable supply, is a true course correction. Only through a renewed focus on the local can weddings become properly sustainable.

The carbon footprint of the average ceremony is outsized; reducing it is key. This will become especially important as the number and frequency of ceremonies expand through 2022.

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Sonia Madaan is a writer and founding editor of the science education blog EarthEclipse. She loves writing on topics related to space, environment, chemistry, biology, geology and geography. When she is not writing, she loves watching sci-fi movies on Netflix.