If you’re interested in a lower-waste wedding — or other celebration — we have some ideas for you. Plenty of products and DIY projects are available to help you plan a fun and festive affair with less plastic, less trash, and less pollution. Lots of environmentally preferable ideas are delightfully easy and you’ll take pride in infusing your event with a hearty respect for the Earth.
Pick a venue that accommodates the nuptials as well as the reception. By minimizing the miles the wedding party and guests need to drive, you’ll lower the environmental footprint of your celebration.
Reception Table Décor
For your tablescape, let edibles shine. Fresh vegetables provide lots of potential for unique and colorful visual displays, as well as offering finger food for your friends and family to nibble on. Pair your tastefully prepared veggies with tasty dips for zero-waste décor.
Employ the vibrant hues of produce like radishes, broccoli florets, and radicchio as your palette. Artfully layer bite-sized bits in spirals, freeform patterns, or other appealing designs. Perhaps you’ll want to include some whimsical features, like radish mushrooms or radish mice. When preparing veggies for presentation, perhaps as recommended by Oprah, save the scraps for later use in soups, smoothies, or salads.
Enthusiasm for decorative veggie displays is offered by Chef T.J. Delle Donne, assistant dean of Culinary Relations & Special Projects at Johnson and Wales University College of Food Innovation & Technology. He describes these edible displays as focal points that are fun and interactive, like fondue.
“It should feel abundant, full, and have some height to it,” he said. “Usually a dip or two is at the center and the vegetables are arranged in nice, neat piles around the bowl or vessel. Key to this is that the vegetables are prepared nicely, even-sized, and poppable. Broccoli and multi-colored cauliflower florets, baby carrots nicely peeled with the green tops still attached, baby radishes with tops, nicely peeled asparagus, green beans, zucchini, summer squash, grape tomatoes, Romanesco, celery, the list goes on… celebrate all of the natural colors.”
He suggests blanching the veggies, although it’s not required. “I prefer to,” he said. “It brings out the color while taking that raw edge off of them.” After blanching, dunk the vegetables in ice-cold water to avoid overcooking them.
A display technique Delle Donne likes is using pumpernickel rye bread crumbs as edible “soil” presented in little pots with “plantings” of baby turnips, radishes, and other veggies.
Pair the produce with guacamole, salsa-and-bean dips, and other yummy plant-based accompaniments piled in sturdy lettuce leaves, avocado shells, or hollowed bell peppers. It’s fun and having fewer dishes to wash is nice for the planet. If you prefer non-edible vessels, avoid single-use disposables. Serve in bowls that you’ll reuse.
Tossing confetti is a fun feature at weddings and other events, like graduations. But you don’t want to litter and allow bits of paper and plastic to scatter and pollute waterways. With a nod to the environment, some innovative folks are opting for leaf-fetti as a more planet-friendly confetti — pulled directly from nature.
Use a paper punch for a DIY version. Or let someone else do the punching and purchase a packaged product.
Jenny Frutuoso, owner of EcoTrove shop on Etsy, sells hearts punched from fragrant eucalyptus leaves that fell from trees naturally. “As far as I know leaf-fetti is a relatively new trend in weddings and other festivities,” she says. “It just makes so much sense on so many levels.”
Laura Wittig, the founder of Brightly is also an enthusiast of leaf confetti. “The shiny confetti you’ll find at most stores is made out of plastic… it can take thousands of years to break down in landfills,” she said. “Confetti can also be harmful to wildlife if they discover and eat it. That’s why I really love using leaf confetti as an eco-friendly alternative.
“All you need to do is collect fallen leaves from outside, grab a paper punch, and get to work,” she said. “You’ll get to enjoy a completely biodegradable option that’s sustainable, affordable, and just as colorful and fun as the store-bought stuff.”
If you’d like another biodegradable confetti option, dried flower petals are also suitable for celebrating a wedding.
Paper Honeycomb Balls
Balloons are popular for their decorative flair at parties and weddings. But they’re bad news for the environment. If you want to avoid the single-use plastic that leaves a pile of popped waste after the festivities, honeycomb balls offer vibrant and versatile 3D orbs. They’re paper, which is environmentally preferable to plastic balloons, and they usually fold for storage and reuse.
Check out these handmade versions from DecoHoneycombs on Etsy, available in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. You can also find a selection on Amazon. Or, learn how to make your own paper honeycomb ornaments by following the tutorial on Instructables.
Often favors are elegantly wrapped in plastic and ribbons that are ripped off and immediately tossed out. If you want to include favors, offer something that is useful and ideally plastic-free, such as Eco Lips lip balms, which include a vegan version without beeswax.
Present them in a reusable bin or on a table, with a sign that invites guests to pick one if they want it. If they don’t want it, they won’t take it. No waste.
There are so many ways to reduce waste and other environmental impacts of your wedding. Here are a few more for your consideration from Earth911.