While your wedding day is one of the most memorable days of your life, it’s also typically one of the most wasteful. So we love it when photographers and planners organize styled shoots that focus on sustainability. This perfectly boho Joshua Treehouse elopement–organized by photographer Eunice Beck–used vintage clothing and decor, dried florals, and the beauty of the Tucson desert to prove that sustainability is still stunning.
From the 70s inspired outfits in the pre-wedding portraits to the use of vintage rugs and floor pillows in the ceremony space, every detail was well-thought-out. Not to mention the pampas grass covered reception tables which were expertly executed. So whether you’re planning your own dreamy desert elopement or you’re just looking for ways to be more eco-conscious, you’re going to want to keep scrolling to see more of this one.
Want A Sustainable Wedding?
While a sustainable wedding may seem hard to host, there are a lot of small changes you can make to have an eco-conscious day. Check out these 20 small changes that are a great place to start!
Dream of Celebrating Under The Stars?
Us too! There’s nothing more romantic than celebrating your nuptials under the stars and fairy lights. To maximize the coziness of your reception, be sure to check out these cozy wedding reception tips!
A Sustainable business or green business, is a business that has minimal negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy. A sustainable business embraces the concept of the triple bottom line approach to accounting.
Many perceive the triple bottom line to create greater business value and to increase opportunities to serve those customers who lean toward environmentally sound solutions to everyday situations.
Business Sustainability Criteria
Many sustainable businesses embrace environmental policies. A sustainable business is considered to be green if it matches the following four criteria:
A sustainable business incorporates sustainability into all facets of it’s business.
A sustainable business supplies environmentally friendly products or services that replace non-green products or services.
A sustainable business is greener than it’s non-green competition.
A sustainable business commits environmental practices in it’s business operations.
Business Sustainability in other words, is a business that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Is Sustainability Social Responsibility?
Sustainability is often confused with corporate social responsibility, however the two are not the same. While ethics, morality, and other social norms permeate CSR, sustainability only obliges businesses to make trade offs to safeguard the environmental equity of future generations. Looking short term is the bane of sustainability.
Green business is seen as a mediator of economic versus environmental relationships in business. Many feel that if embraced by all, sustainability would diversify our economy, even if it has little actual effect at lowering atmospheric Carbon levels.
What are Green Jobs?
“Green Jobs” definition is ambiguous at best, however most agree that green jobs should be linked to clean energy. Because of this connection green jobs should contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases.
Corporations can be seen as generators of not only “green energy”, but as producers of new realities which result from the technologies developed and deployed by these firms.
Sustainability is Environmental
Sustainable businesses main goal is to eliminate or decrease the environmental harm caused by the production and consumption of their goods. The impact of such human activities is the greenhouse gases produced.
These gases can be measured in units of carbon dioxide and is often referred to as the carbon footprint. Carbon footprint is usually defined as the total emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, or product, expressed as it’s carbon dioxide equivalent.
What are Green Initiatives?
Businesses take a wide range of green initiatives. One of the most common examples is the act of “going paperless” or sending electronic correspondence instead of paper when possible.
Examples of sustainable business practices include repurposing used products, a great example is tuning up used commercial fitness equipment for resale. Another would be revising production processes to eliminate waste, and choosing nontoxic raw materials and processes.
For example, Canadian farmers found that hemp is a sustainable alternative to rapeseed in their traditional crop rotation. Hemp grown for fiber or seed requires little or no pesticides or herbicides.
Sustainable business leaders also consider the “life cycle costs” for the items they produce. Input costs must be considered in regards to regulations, energy use, storage, and disposal.
Designing for the Environment is also an important element of sustainable business practices. This process enables users to consider a products potential environmental impacts and the process used to make that product.
The many green practices possibilities have led to considerable pressure being put upon companies from consumers, employees, government regulators and other stakeholders. If given a choice, most customers will choose the “green product” if it is economically feasible.
What is Greenwashing?
Some companies have resorted to “greenwashing” instead of making actual and meaningful changes. They simply market their products in ways that suggest green practices.
Greenwashing is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly. Evidence that a business is greenwashing often comes when more money or time has been spent advertising being “green”, than is actually spent on environmentally sound practices.
Greenwashing efforts can simply involve changing the name or label of a product evoking the environmental credibility of a product when it actually contains harmful chemicals. Or greenwashing can be a multimillion dollar marketing campaign portraying a highly polluting company as eco-friendly.
Sustainability is Social
Companies that contribute to their communities, whether through employee volunteers or through charitable donations are considered to be socially sustainable. Due to their community involvement, they are given social credibility toward being recognized as a sustainable business.
Businesses are often also recognized for encouraging education by employee training, and internships to mentor other community members. These practices serve to increase education levels and quality of life in their community.
However to be truly sustainable, a business must foster a reverence for our natural resources and our environment. The sustainable business reaches beyond social resources to enhance it’s reputation within the community it serves.
Innovation & Technology
This inward examination of corporate sustainability practices focuses on a company’s ability to change its products and services making them produce less waste and emphasize sustainable best practices during all company activities.
This examines the formation of networks and partnerships with similar or partner companies to facilitate knowledge sharing and help propel innovation to new levels of achievement.
Ongoing surveys help create improvement in the business processes which are essential to reduction in waste. Enhanced employee awareness of your company sustainability plan further integrates the new and improved business processes.
Tracking progress made to embrace sustainability is necessary to report on company performance in achieving their goals. Corporate sustainability goals are often incorporated into the corporate mission statement to further enhance the company sustainability strategy.
Greening the Supply Chain
To emphasize corporate adherence to their sustainability goal, procurement is a vital component of that strategy. Sustainable procurement is a huge part of a company’s environmental impact, being much larger than the impact of the products they may consume.
Third party certifications, such as those given by the B Corporation (certification) model is a good example of one that encourages companies to focus on their sustainability issues and processes. Companies could also implement an internal sustainability measurement and management system which included a forum for all stakeholders to discuss their sustainability issues.
Corporate Sustainability Strategies
Corporate sustainability strategies take advantage of sustainable revenue opportunities, protecting the value of the business against factors such as increasing energy costs. A sound sustainability strategy also helps to mitigate the costs of meeting regulatory requirements, any changes in the way customers perceive brands and products, and the volatile price of resources.
Sustainability characteristics might not all be incorporated into a company’s Eco-strategy portfolio immediately. However their inclusion in your corporate sustainability strategy is very important to your corporate reputation. The widely practiced sustainability characteristics include: Innovation, Collaboration, Process Improvement, Sustainability reporting, and Greening your supply chain.
Triple top-line value production
Triple top-line values production establishes three requirements of sustainable business activities for companies. These activities require financial benefits for the company, natural world betterment, and social advantages for employees and members of the local community.
Each of these three components is recognized as equal in status. While many businesses already embrace the triple bottom line approach to business sustainability, “triple top line” stresses the importance of initial process design and is a term attributable to McDonough and Braungart in their book Cradle to Cradle.
Nature-based knowledge and technology
This mimicry based principle involves the emulation of the natural world, adopting principles found in nature to help us grow our food, harness and use energy, and in building things and conducting business.
The principles are also important for healing ourselves, and to help us process information and design our communities to exist in harmony with nature.
Products of service or products of consumption
Products of service are durable goods routinely leased by customer’s, that are made of technical materials and are returned to the manufacturer and re-processed into a new generation of products when they are worn out, obsolete, or simply no longer needed.
Products of consumption are shorter lived items made only of biodegradable materials. They can be broken down by organisms after the products lose their usefulness. These products are also not hazardous to humans or our environmental health.
This principal requires that we manufacture only these two types of products and mandates the gradual reduction of products of service and their replacement with products of consumption as technological advancements allow us to do so.
This principle advocates for sustainable energy produced using solar, wind, geothermal and ocean energy that will be able to meet our future energy needs without negative polluting effects for life on earth.
Local-based organizations and economies
This principle envisions durable, beautiful and healthy communities, locally owned and operated businesses and locally managed non-profit organizations, partnering with regional corporations and shareholders. All of these diverse groups working together in a web of partnerships and collaborations.
Continuous improvement process
This principle envisions operational processes inside successful organizations which include provisions for constant advancements and upgrades as the company transacts its day-to-day business. The continuous process of monitoring, analyzing, redesigning and implementing is used to ensure the success of Triple Top Line value production as conditions change and new opportunities emerge.
Implementing sustainable business practices may have an effect on profits and a firm’s financial ‘bottom line’. Initially, this financial challenge might make many corporate executives cringe. However, during a time when environmental awareness is popular, green strategies are likely to be embraced by employees, consumers, and other stakeholders.
In fact, according to many studies, a positive correlation exists between environmental performance and economic performance. If an organization’s current business model is inherently unsustainable, becoming a truly sustainable business requires a complete makeover of the business model.
This presents a major challenge because of the differences between the old and the new model. It also requires reviewing how the respective skills, resources and infrastructure needed may change with a new business model. . A new business model can also offer major opportunities by entering or even creating new markets and reaching new customer groups.
Companies leading the way in sustainable business practices are taking advantage of sustainable revenue opportunities as they move into the future. Recent surveys suggest that the demand for green products appears to be increasing, with 27% of respondents stating they are more likely to buy a sustainable product and/or service than 5 years ago. Furthermore, sustainable business practices may attract talent to your business and generate tax breaks for your business.
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
If you would like to calculate your Carbon Footprint, follow the link to the free carbon footprint calculator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Plenty of Offbeat Brides include sustainability in their must-have wedding planning list. Green wedding favors can add to the eco-friendliness of your special day, while also expressing your special style. Your first thought might be to go with eco-friendly materials like bamboo, but check out the creative ideas our offbeat brides have come up with!
Send guests home with something they can plant! It’s green, more welcome than a tchotchke they’ll have to find room for, and wildly versatile. The cactus cans in the shot above add whimsy to a fiesta wedding.
Succulents planted in recycled jars are a similar idea with a different style. And that’s one of the awesome things about getting creative with favors — every single one is special. Think not only about plants, but also seeds. Paper embedded with seeds can be used to print programs that also serve as favors, or try our DIY seed bombs!
Extra benefit — your guests will think of your wedding whenever they see those plants growing in their own spaces.
Whenever you use vintage stuff, you keep it out of the landfill and save on the energy and raw materials that would have gone into making new. Vintage hankies for happy tears are a perfect example. Vintage handkerchiefs are often very colorful and special, and you can find fancy ones with embroidery or hand-crocheted lace at very reasonable prices. Etsy and eBay are great sources, but don’t miss your local thrift shops or antique stores.
Let the mismatch be part of the fun with vintage trinkets like demitasse cups, keys, miniature picture frames, paper fans… you might be amazed by how many cool small favors you can find at flea markets.
Conceptual wedding favors
Sophia decided to give an opportunity to pick a charity to her guests instead of a physical favor. Guests had the chance to support a good cause and Sophia felt great about how she spent her favor budget It was also a very sustainable choice. Read how she did it!
Lara made super-cute scrolls laying out the favors — from computer help to cupcakes –she and her spouse would be happy to do for their guests.
Your wedding is one of the most memorable days of your life, but did you know that it’s also one of the most wasteful? In fact, according to The Green Bride Guide, the average wedding produces anywhere from 400 to 600 pounds of trash and 63 tons of CO2–all in one day! Because of the pressure to have the picture-perfect day, many of us don’t think about the effect that our wedding purchases and excess food have on the environment.
Luckily, eco-friendly weddings are becoming increasingly popular—especially as micro weddings and elopements are on the rise. Planning a sustainable wedding does not have to be more challenging than planning less environmentally-friendly nuptials. However, we know figuring out where to start can be daunting. That’s why we’re here to help you navigate the world of green wedding planning.
Sustainable Weddings are Trending
At Junebug, we’ve seen our fair share of weddings–we’re talking thousands. We’ve noticed an upward trend in sustainable weddings, so we took to asking our vendors if they’ve also seen a difference!
This is what member Jenn Mauer of Wild Coast Photography had to say about the trend, “Every year more couples are reaching out saying they want to have “smaller, more intentional” celebrations. Rather than a big, traditional wedding, I’m photographing more eco-friendly outdoor elopements where couples have the chance to be super specific about what things are a part of their day. Rather than physical objects, they are choosing experiences to celebrate this moment in their lives. Instead of huge floral arrangements, they’re choosing natural mountain backdrops. Instead of a big dinner reception with a generic catering menu, they’re choosing a small picnic of their favorite foods.”
The Future of Sustainable Weddings
“I really think sustainable weddings are the future, whether they are small two-person elopements or eco-friendly ballroom weddings that have been crafted to reduce waste. At this point, a wasteful wedding is out of touch – it’s easier than ever to choose small sustainable swaps to make a wedding eco-friendly!”
Photographer Nikk Nuygen agreed, saying, “Today’s couples are concerned about the state of the planet and are passionate about lowering their carbon footprints as much as possible. Most modern couples don’t want a wedding full of excess waste and unnecessary items, especially with the increasing costs! When it comes to sustainable weddings in 2020, it’s all about locally sourced and seasonal food, natural materials over plastic, recycled paper and goods, eco-friendly and all-inclusive venues, and mindfully choosing decorations (reusable is preferable).”
One of the easiest ways to host a sustainable wedding is to find a venue that prides itself on reducing its carbon footprint, recycling wherever possible, and incorporating renewable energy sources.
Junebug member Kat Warner of Benjamin T Warner Events put together the perfect list of questions to ask a potential venue to gauge what efforts they use to be environmentally friendly:
Do they offer recycling or composting bins on-site, or recommend a local green trash service?
Do they offer rentals?
What seasons would lower the wedding’s carbon footprint?
Are there any local vendors or organizations they recommend connecting with?
Are renewable energy sources, such as solar generators, available?
Do they incorporate sustainable operations or methods? Options like carbon offsetting, gravity rainwater harvesting, solar-powered energy, seasonal options, etc.
Do they work with a local conservation organization? These organizations typically look like a conservation easement, a mentoring program, etc.
Junebug member Sachin Khona suggests looking into whether or not a venue is LEED-certified. She says, “the LEED certification process ensures that the venue is functioning in a sustainable and energy-efficient manner. This includes water savings and materials selection. You’ll feel better knowing your wedding is housed in a caring environment.”
19 Other Changes You Can Make For A Sustainable Wedding
1. Be Thoughtful About Who You Hire
Hiring vendors that care about sustainability themselves and are willing to work with you to be as sustainable as possible is critical. Life is easier when you’ve got people in your corner, and the same goes for wedding planning. Vendors that share your same views will make wedding planning that much easier.
2. Keep the Guest List Small
While it may seem tempting to invite everyone you know to your special day, the smaller the guest list, the less waste you will produce. If you’re in the wedding planning process and you’re overwhelmed with the thought of cutting friends and family from your guest list, use these tips to help you narrow it down.
3. Choose Eco-Friendly Recycled Invitations or Opt For Virtual Invitations
There are so many options available for eco-friendly invitations. It’s easier than ever to find invitations made from recycled paper, upcycled fabric, leather, and even wood. Some companies also give back with every purchase. For example, Paper Culture offers 100% post-recycled paper invites, and they plant a tree in your honor with every purchase. Botanical Paperworks prints their invites on seed-infused paper that you can plant and turn into flowers.
4. Create an Eco-Friendly Registry or Have Guests Donate to a Charity of Your Choice
We know how easy it is to go a little scan-crazy when you’re putting together your wedding registry. However, before going shopping, make a list of sustainable items that you and your new spouse would like to add to your home. Whether it be recycled ceramic or reclaimed wood, there’s usually a sustainable alternative to our everyday household item or decor.
If you would rather forgo the gifts, have your guests donate to a charity of your choice. Whether you’re passionate about feeding the homeless or educating children, there are so many charities to choose from Get creative and find a charity that speaks to you like this real couple who had their guests donate to a local food rescue charity in New Zealand.
5. Buy Ethical Wedding Rings
Did you know that it’s important to track the origins of your diamonds and gemstones? Due to poor planning and regulation, diamond mining has created a real mess. Finding ethical wedding rings will help you avoid this pitfall.
If you want a conflict-free diamond ring, look no further than lab-grown diamonds. Moissanite is starting to take the world by storm, and for a good reason. It’s a rare, naturally occurring mineral created in a lab, so you don’t have to worry about harming the Earth. The best part? Moissanite stones look exactly real diamonds and cost a whole lot less. Companies like Brilliant Earth pride themselves on being as ethical as possible while producing seriously stunning jewelry.
You can also switch up ring shopping by looking for vintage options. Whether your family has a precious heirloom or you shop at an estate sale, vintage rings are truly one-of-a-kind.
Who says you can’t be sustainable and still look fabulous on your wedding day? Many gowns are created as “fast fashion” but that doesn’t mean you are entirely out of luck when it comes to your wedding dress. There are many wedding dress designers who focus on ethical production and eco-friendly fabrics. Some of these popular designers include Grace Loves Lace, Sanyukta Shrestha, and Reformation Bridal.
You can also give a pre-loved wedding dress a second chance. Etsy, Nearly Newlywed, and Preowned Wedding Dresses are just a few of the places you can find gently worn gowns. This is a great way to get the dress of your dreams without spending extravagantly!
7. Rent Tuxes for Groom and Groomsmen
Unless galas are regularly part of your social life, there is no need to have a nice tux on hand at all times. Save you—and your groomsmen—money and help the planet by renting a tux from sites like The Black Tux and Generation Tux. That’s what we call a win-win.
8. Get Married Outside
As mentioned earlier, finding a sustainable wedding venue may seem tricky. There’s one option that makes being environmentally friendly a piece of cake–the great outdoors! What better way to be one with nature than to tie the knot surrounded by a lush forest or the rolling countryside?
Outdoor venues typically have built-in decor, making them easy to work with. Vineyards add scenic backdrops while greenhouses bring lush greenery without the need to bring cut florals.
If you have your heart set on a destination wedding, consider the travel necessary for friends and family. If visiting a faraway destination, you and your guests are likely going to have to hop on a plane, which can drastically affect your carbon footprint. Destination weddings don’t need to be counted out just for sustainability. Businesses like My Climate offer a calculator to offset your carbon footprint from travel.
Travel isn’t necessarily only by airplane. If you’re hosting your wedding in two different venues–one for the ceremony and one for the reception—consider offering a shuttle service or ask your guests to carpool as much as possible.
10. Check Facebook For Wedding Decor
We can’t stress this enough–Facebook groups are your best friend while wedding planning! Couples are often looking to sell their wedding decor once the wedding has passed, and one of the best places to do so is Facebook. Whether it be Facebook groups or Facebook Marketplace, you can find everything from linens to glassware to lighting.
There is no doubt that flowers are one of the most stunning ways to dress up a venue. Fortunately, there are a few ways to get the most out of your floral arrangements. If you are using floral arrangements in your ceremony, choose to reuse them for your reception as well. Turn your backdrop into a photobooth, or use your bridal party’s bouquets as decor for your cake table.
Potted orchids, roses, and succulents also make great focal points for tables and can be taken home and used as decor once the day is done.
If you’d prefer to skip the flowers altogether, we’ve put together a list of creative floral alternatives that will still have your wedding day looking elegant and well put-together, all without the worry about what to do with them once the wedding is over.
12. Donate Leftovers and Decor
One of the most significant ways waste accumulates at weddings is discarded food, decor, and flowers. Rather than throwing everything in the garbage, consider donating it.
Resell wedding decor on those Facebook groups we mentioned earlier, and donate leftover food to local food kitchens, if possible. If regulations prohibit this, give your guests the option to take food home in to-go containers.
While rice or confetti looks great in photos, it’s not very environmentally-conscious. There are alternatives that are just as beautiful–one could argue that they’re even more beautiful. If you still want a dramatic send-off before your reception, go down the natural route with dried flowers. Some of our favorites include lavender, rose petals, leaves, and dried flowers.
If you can’t part ways with the idea of a confetti toss, look into dissolvable confetti! The Confetti Bar has multiple colorful options that will still give your photos that “wow” factor.
14. Avoid Single-Use Dishes and Utensils
This is one of the easiest switches to make when planning a green reception. While it may seem easy to opt for single-use plates, napkins, and utensils, these options produce lots of extra waste. Renting dishware and glassware not only helps make a significant impact, but it also adds an extra touch of glam to your special day.
15. Choose Caterers That Source From Local Farmers
Eating local is always important, as the carbon emissions from shipping food across the country can be extremely detrimental to our environment. When putting together your wedding menu, have a conversation with your caterer to find out where they source their food and if you are able to keep the food menu seasonal.
16. Consider a Vegan or Vegetarian Menu
This suggestion might be slightly controversial, but stay with us here. Consider serving vegetarian and vegan options. Plant-based meals consume fewer resources than dishes that rely heavily on animal products. This may sound daunting, but there are endless possibilities that avoid animal products. Your top-notch caterers can make your dream meal come true.
Speaking of your menu, while a buffet may seem like an easy choice–as it gives your guests choices–it can also lead to a lot of food waste. Hosting a plated dinner will ensure that you have just enough food for the guests that attend.
18. Cut out Balloons and Floating Lanterns
Balloons and floating lanterns have become increasingly popular for over-the-top exits at the end of the evening. Balloons, if not disposed of properly, can end up being eaten by animals. Floating lanterns can not only be a fire hazard for you and your guests, but they can also spark forest fires if in wooded areas.
19. Rethink Your Wedding Favors
How many times have you gone to a wedding and left with a wedding favor that you know that you will never touch again? Wedding favors are a great way to thank your guests for celebrating with you, they are often small goods that we forget about once we leave the wedding. Tasty edible gifts are popular for a reason—guests will look for midnight snacks after a night of celebrating with you.
We hope these small changes help inspire you to reduce waste and host the sustainable wedding of your dreams, Junebabes. Use even a few of these tips and you’ll ensure you feel beautiful and sustainable for your incredibly special day. For more eco-planning inspiration, read about how you can repurpose your wedding decor from ceremony to reception!
Although we could go on forever about the natural and DIY touches the couple added to the day, we think Abby of AE Creative summed it up perfectly.
Abby of AE Creative On The Day
The wedding was a wildflower woodland dream. Alex and Wolf are avid outdoors lovers and skilled climbers. The year leading up to their wedding, they lived in their converted van with their rescue dog, Dude. They spent the year traveling to national parks, climbing, and living life to the fullest. They try to tread a lighter footprint for their wedding day–literally by being barefoot the majority of the day–which also encouraged guests to kick off their shoes and enjoy the forest floor beneath their feet.
We created camping mugs with a custom design of their van on the side that guests used to find their seats and toast to the couple. Every detail was thought through with nature in mind. All of the florals were locally grown, their food menu used local organic ingredients, and no single-use plastics were used. The venue has onsite cabins for about 60 people, so most of the guests were able to stay onsite together for a true wild Oregon wedding weekend!
Ready to frolic through the flower fields with us? Then keep scrolling to see the enchanting photos captured by Anna Caitlin.
We wanted an approachable and naturally beautiful wedding that welcomed our loved ones and brought them in to celebrate our love. Our lives are centered around the outdoors and the peace it can bring. Because of this, we wanted natural elements in every possible place. We even planted native wildflowers along the pathway guests walked to the ceremony site. The ceremony set the stage for the whole day, taking place in the forest along a stream. We stood under giant douglas fir and ponderosa pines with beautiful floral installations that appeared to have grown over our archway and along the aisles. We wanted everyone to feel comfortable while being surrounded by love and nature.
An Emotional Walk Down The Aisle
The most memorable part of the day was seeing my husband tear up at the ceremony as my Dad and I walked down the aisle. We both felt so relaxed. I was barefoot walking through the forest toward my partner on pine needles. It was unbelievably peaceful. I was so calm and happy from the inside out.
The Bride Emphasised The Importance of a Planner
Try to find a wedding planner that really understands your dynamic and that values what you both think is important. Our wedding wasn’t large, but the opportunity to have a full planner—and her team—helping us made the whole experience less stressful and full of joy. A planner is more worth it than an expensive dress or cake, in my opinion.
Custom Wedding Favors
We gave camp mugs created by Abby at AE Creative that had a custom graphic of our Pro-master van we lived in. They were pure magic. I’ve seen guests using them to this day and they’ve even been used as basil planters. That connection to the earth makes us smile.