By Sandra Henri, Founder of Less Stuff – More Meaning.
It all starts with getting a Keep Cup. From there on in it’s a slippery slope. Then you become a label reader. You know those people how linger in the supermarket aisles checking if it’s palm oil free and fair trade? Then you’ll start separating your plastics and making special trips to Coles just to use their overflowing recycling bin. Before you know it you’ll be picking up rubbish at the beach and ranting about how many fish could have choked on that! Or is that just me? 😉
Image by Rell & Co, ethical & sustainable wedding stylists
Jokes aside, thankfully for our earth, we’re all becoming a little more eco-conscious these days. We’ve seen enough social media memes and watched enough episodes of War on Waste to know that we’re using way more resources than our planet can provide us with. In fact, we even have a calculation for how much extra we are consuming, called Earth Over Shoot Day. In 2017, it fell on August 2nd. This marked the day that we used “more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can sequester”. And each year it creeps a little earlier on the calendar. Bearing in mind though, that this is a global average. To sustain the Aussie lifestyle, we would actually need 5.2 planets. Yikes!
Image by Fox & Kin, an ethical and sustainable photographer
So what does all of this mean for the world of weddings?
A wedding is the celebration of the love we share with our favourite human, and our nearest and dearest. It’s one of the few rites of passage and meaningful rituals that remain in our modern culture and it’s often the only time that an entire community will gather from all over the globe. It’s also a heap of fun!
Yet we’d like to deepen the meaning of a wedding a little further. A wedding can be a vibrant way to express your values as a couple, making a statement about what is most important to you. It’s also an opportunity to gather support and give a voice to a cause you feel passionate about. Being mindful of the impact your wedding has on our earth and the makers is a great start.
Welcome to the Eco-Ethical Wedding, a celebration of your love for each other and all humans.
Image by Fox & Kin, an ethical and sustainable photographer
How can we reduce the footprint of our wedding, and ensure we have sourced ethically and consciously? It’s easier than you think. As our awareness around these issues arise, the solutions emerge quite organically. In fact, there is a growing community of sustainably and ethically focussed wedding suppliers who are doing some innovative things around reducing waste, and sourcing clean, fair and cruelty-free.
Let’s fill you in.
5 new eco-trends changing the wedding industry:
Sustainably sourced and foraged flowers by Dancing Blossom Studio
- Flowers – Grown not flown
This was one that came as quite a surprise to me when I first heard about it. A huge proportion of flowers available at the market have been imported, grown in developing countries. How on earth do they last the distance? Through quite prolific use of chemicals, and even genetic engineering to reduce the smell of flowers as this preserves their shelf life!
What’s really exciting is the number of farmer-florists popping up, as well as florists who specialise in foraged florals! This a is a great way to make a connection directly with the grower and maker, significantly reducing your footprint as well as waste.
We recommend letting your florist know the style and colour palette you are looking for, and then give them the freedom to create around this using only locally sourced and sustainable flowers. (Also an insiders tip..foliage will generally be Australian grown as it’s just too heavy to import).
Or for a zero waste option, source living plant hire for your floral decor. Imagine jungalow x wedding!
Green styling by Pop-Up Gardens
- The Dress – Sustainable fabrics
If we’re going to take from the earth for something we’re likely to only wear once, it makes sense that we do so as kindly as possible. Enter organic cotton and linen into the wedding space. Sounds dreamy right? I’ve seen these gowns and yes they are as comfy as they sound. Traditional fabrics can be incredibly polluting and also cause issues for the agricultural workers involved, so having more natural options available for a wedding dress is a big tick from us!
Sustainable bridal designer Lenka Couture, Image by Lina Hayes
- Hair and Makeup – No nasties
If you’re on the journey to more clean and sustainable living, you’ll likely also have started hunting for more natural beauty products along the way. Thankfully there are increasingly more options when looking for Hair and Makeup artists that share your values. A natural beauty specialist will have cleaned out their entire kit of products that were tested on animals (sadly many brands still do) and started again with products they’ve trialled themselves. H&MUA’s who specialise in natural, cruelty-free, organic or vegan beauty are in high demand so we recommend booking early for your wedding. Consumers have been sending a strong message that we won’t support animal testing and the industry is responding. Go you!
- Rings – Ethical and fair trade
Rings are a symbol of love and so it’s worth doing some extra research when it comes to selecting your engagement and weddings rings. As the saying goes “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” Mahatma Gandhi.
The production of jewellery is multi-layered, as each stage of the process has an impact on the environment and the workers involved. Even gems sourced from Australia will likely have travelled overseas to be cut and sent back here. So finding a jeweller who has spent the time to research the many stages of their supply chain is particularly important.
Here are some questions to get you started when finding a jeweller:
-Has this gem come from a conflict free zone?
-Has the gold been sourced from Australia or another country where the process is controlled and mechanised? If no, is that local community being supported by fair-trade?
-Are we able to re-purpose existing jewellery into a new bespoke piece?
Ethically sourced diamond ring by RUUSK
- Catering – Zero waste
It’s no secret that there is a-lot left over at the end of a wedding, such as food from people’s plates, leftover food, alcohol bottles and disposables. How your venue approaches these issues will vary so don’t be afraid to ask. Does the venue compost their leftovers? Are they open to donating left overs to OzHarvest ? When enough couples ask, businesses will listen!
Zero-waste caterer, Dan The Man Cooking
So there you have it, you are now officially an eco-savvy couple on your journey to an eco-ethical wedding. Enjoy! May this inspire you to begin your life together rich in purpose.
Would you like a little extra guidance on how to plan your dream wedding, that is kind to people and the planet? Then grab our comprehensive guide that has everything you wanted to know, in one easy to read e-book; The Mindfully Wed E-Guide.
Founder of Less Stuff More Meaning, Australian Co-ordinator, Communications and Marketing. Photographer, dreamer, Mother of two spirited boys and one delightful fur baby. Author of the Mindfully Wed E-Guide.
“Malawi and me. It had been my lifelong dream to volunteer in Africa and here I am soaking up every second of the experience. Two weeks of living purposefully, creating, being surrounded by success stories and hearty Malawian laughter. Feeling 100% alive and inspired. LSMM is my way of bringing this feeling home”.