There’s a great scene in the metaphysical comedy series ‘The Good Place’, where one of the protagonists realizes the points-based system for determining whether or not someone gets into the Good Place (the show’s version of heaven) is fundamentally flawed. They notice that even the smallest choice one makes—like buying a tomato—can have unintended negative consequences for the planet or people across the world, resulting in the fact that literally no human being is good enough for the Good Place.
Trying to practice a low-waste lifestyle can sometimes feel a little like that. Maybe you buy the product with less plastic packaging only to learn it requires more water and energy to produce. Or you recycle meticulously but know that a lot of it could end up in a landfill anyway. When it comes to your wedding, making the perfect choices might seem even harder, especially taking into consideration all the other factors at play like costs, timelines, and your vision for what you want your celebrations to look like.
Maybe, though, perfection needn’t be the ultimate goal. Previous estimates indicated that cutting down food waste by even 25% would mean that there would be enough food for everyone in the world. Similarly, if everyone in the US reduced their meat consumption by 25%, it would cut down greenhouse gas emissions by about 82 million metric tons every year and free up 23 million acres of land, approximately equal to the size of Indiana.
Small steps can go a long way if more people take them, and here are a few things you can do to make your wedding greener even without holding yourself to extreme and exacting standards.
- Speak to all your vendors about your desire to be more eco-friendly, and chances are that even if they don’t usually prioritize green practices, they’ll be happy to work with you in whatever way they can to cut down on waste or harmful materials. Your florist, for instance, may be able to arrange potted plants for your décor, or team up with a local community organization that could re-use the flowers from your bouquets and centerpieces.
- Make small changes where you can. For example, if you would usually request your caterer for two meat-based and one vegan/vegetarian option for your main course, consider flipping that and going with two plant-based and one meat option instead.
- Tell your friends and family about any green practices you’ve followed. Give a shout out on social media to your bridal salon if you’ve found the perfect dress made of reclaimed or all-natural fabrics, let your guests know if your delicious wedding cake is entirely vegan, or maybe, if your wedding invites are printed on recycled or plantable seed paper, include a small line at the back of the card pointing that out.
Your wedding day will no doubt be unforgettable for you, but the experience of being a part of it as a vendor or a guest is likely to be extremely memorable as well. If your celebrations can inspire others to take their own small steps, that’s a big victory. In the words of Anne-Marie Bonneau a.k.a. the Zero-Waste Chef, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”