More and more of us consider the impact we have on the climate in our everyday lives. From swapping out toiletries to installing solar panels, living sustainably is becoming a habit. So why shouldn’t that mindset apply to the big, once in a lifetime celebrations too? Celebrating your wedding in a more environmentally-friendly way can also help bring more of your personality into your day. But it might not always be easy to know where to start. So we had a chat with Alisa Jost of Bridlx, to talk about how everyone can make sure their wedding treads lightly on our planet.
Weddings can certainly have a big environmental impact. A 2017 study, found that 10% of food from weddings in the UK was thrown away at the end of the evening, equivalent to food costing £488 or around 568 euros. Of course, every wedding is different, but there’s also single use plastic, travel emissions, clothes, flowers and furniture to consider.
Alisa Jost though, thinks that the tide is finally turning and that the wedding and beauty industries must focus on rethinking how they work. Bridlx is a beauty and wedding styling platform, where brides can find a stylist to match with them based on their preferences and by location. While sustainability isn’t Bridlx’s only focus, the platform hopes to raise people’s awareness of how their beauty regimen on their wedding day can be more climate-friendly. For example, stylists and brides can be matched by location, and people can filter to find a stylist who uses beauty brands which consider the environmental impact of their products, from packaging to the ingredients they use. Bridlx has also chosen to offset their business‘ carbon emissions with ForTomorrow.
Of course, it can be difficult to be carbon neutral within an industry that is not yet sustainable, but Alisa thinks that „there are just little things we can all do right now.“ As always, small actions add up.
1. Keep things local.
Alisa has worked with many wedding planners and she believes that there is already a different atmosphere in the industry. People are „really aware of using products within [wedding planning] that are more sustainable right now.“ Considering using things which are local and seasonal when you plan your wedding can easily reduce your carbon footprint. For instance „you don’t have to use strawberries if you’re planning a winter wedding.“
Buying local services can encompass many different parts of your wedding. According to Alisa, the best way to keep your wedding sustainable starts at the beginning. „It’s the total concept“ from renting furniture, to flowers, to the makeup artist you choose.
There’s also an added bonus in that keeping your wedding as local as possible doesn’t only reduce the emissions associated with miles of transport, but can also be good for nearby communities and small businesses.
2. Stay clear of plastic.
Balloons and confetti might be the two most obvious offenders when it comes to plastic at your wedding. It’s definitely possible to find biodegradable alternatives, like confetti made of dried flower petals for example.
The other positive is an aesthetic one– Alisa points out that plastic often „just doesn’t look as nice.“
This is also a point which Bridlx can help with. „There’s a lot of pressure on the beauty industry right now, old companies have to rethink their packaging, their products and the production itself so there’s a lot happening.“ Alisa says. There are also „new brands coming right now which are already totally focused on clean beauty.“
On Bridlx’s platform you can choose to filter by make-up artists who use a high percentage of products which are sustainable or clean beauty products. Alisa is also clear that choosing environmentally friendly products doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on quality either. In the past sometimes these products weren’t „so highly pigmented [or] the consistency wasn’t really good.“ But there has been a „huge change“ in the industry as both new and old brands progress to making these products better.
Flowers can have a surprisingly large carbon footprint, especially those which have to be grown in a heated greenhouse or flown long distances. Alisa also suggests using flowers as an alternative to plastic decorations like balloons.
However, when it comes to the environment, it isn’t always as simple as just finding flowers which are grown in Europe. It depends on the season and what type of flowers you want. The EU, along with the US, is one of the main importers of cut flowers. The exporters are varied– the Netherlands, Ecuador, Colombia and Ethiopia are some of the biggest. The import of cut flowers is energy intensive, as they are often flown long distances in refrigerated containers so that they can eventually be displayed for longer. However, out of season flowers grown in colder countries can require heated greenhouses which may balance out the CO2 emissions caused by longer flights. According to research which the Fairtrade Foundation commissioned , buying roses from Kenya can actually have a lower carbon footprint than ones grown in the Netherlands.
If you don’t have your heart set on one specific bloom though, the best option might be to buy seasonal flowers from smaller growers. This way, you can avoid the two big emitters of heating and air freight. Seasonal flowers are really beautiful and give you the opportunity to have creative and unique flowers at your wedding.
Another thing to think about is what happens to your flowers next? You could use them as gifts to give to your wedding guests at the end of the evening. Another option is to ask local hospitals and care homes, who will often accept donations of flowers.
4. Does it need to be new?
Alisa also points out another great way to be sustainable is to rent instead of buy. Many decorations, tableware, linens and furniture can be rented. This doesn’t just save on emissions, but also money and time you don’t have to spend deciding on what to do with the things you bought!
Renting glassware and cutlery can also tie back into reducing plastic and is a much better alternative to disposable plates.
Jewellery and wedding rings can also be considered. Often the mining process for precious stones can be energy intensive and workers are subject to poor conditions. Vintage pieces or ones from companies which focus on using sustainable or synthetically made stones can be softer on the planet and weigh less on your conscience. It’s also great that they can be one of a kind.
5. What to wear?
There are so many options when it comes to wedding dresses. There are an increasing number of designers who also consider the environmental impact of wedding gowns. There’s no need for compromise when something can be both beautiful and sustainably made.
Another option is to rent your wedding dress. This might not be for everyone, but could also give you the opportunity to wear something for much less than it would cost you to buy it. At the same time, you avoid the impact that making another new garment has on carbon emissions.
When it comes to other members of the wedding party, consider choosing bridesmaid dresses that could actually be worn for another occasion. It’s also worth asking whether accessories like shoes and jewellery need to match or if it will look just as good if everyone can use something they already have.
Of course, it isn’t about doing every single one of these things. You can do your bit and make a change as part of a community of people who choose to make their actions more climate-friendly. Making your wedding day more sustainable can be an opportunity to get creative. There might be some things you want that aren’t the most climate-friendly choice and „it’s not about being perfect.“ Alisa thinks „there’s so many so many opportunities. Even if it’s a little green footprint [you] can leave. It’s about thinking about the future.“