In India, families invest a lot in planning lavish weddings. It is estimated that more than 10 million weddings take place in the country every year and all of these celebrations leave behind truckloads of trash in the form of discarded plastic cutlery, used flowers and a large amount of food, etc.
Add to it the other waste related to weddings like the wedding cards, return gifts and unwanted wedding gifts. Wedding curators Aaradhana & Prateek Kashyap of Made in Heaven lists down some tips for a Zero Waste Wedding:
The pandemic has made hybrid weddings, the norm of the day. It’s safe, can be low on cost and make it a very intimate and personal celebration. Having the guest count to a minimum, you can stay long enough and have an elaborate wedding. A small guest list will also help to better plan catering, favours, and décor, as well as implement low-waste solutions that may not be possible with a larger wedding party.
This will help avoid the gensets and the electricity load at the venue. Choose a venue with an open lawn and natural beauty and shade with flowers and trees aplenty. If the venue is naturally attractive, you can avoid decoration waste.
Opt for a sustainable and eco-friendly venue that uses solar energy, composts and recycle waste, has tie-ups with NGOs for donating excess food, fresh flowers, space with reusable décor, a lawn for day events, etc.
Avoid paper invites and go for e-invites. If at all, you want to go for physical invites, limit the number and opt for recycled paper or bamboo and even seeded invites.
A theme wedding involves elaborate structures, involving the use of wood, thermocol and other materials that cannot be used, therefore its advisable to avoid theme weddings. If at all, you plan a theme event, rent rather than buying decor and equipment, rent it! This will ensure that there is less wastage and you are not contributing directly to it!
Avoid plastics, instead use local fresh flowers and a support a small entrepreneur. The flower waste can be given to NGOs who upcycle them and make products from fresh flower waste. Also, make sure to use foam free floral installations. Use live plants as centerpieces, you can even give them away to your guests as favours. Use scrap cloth for décor or reusable props. Avoid electric lights, instead use solar lanterns. At a typical Indian wedding, more than Rs.2 lakh is spent on lighting alone. Hire a wedding curator who specializes in sustainable weddings. Use minimum construction.
It’s startling to note that between 10-20 per cent of the food goes to waste at an average Indian wedding. To avoid food waste, opt for plated dinners, have a plan about saving leftovers if you are doing a buffet for eg., tying up with a cloud kitchen or food service that can take up the extra food and provide to those who need it. What’s better than to donate food to a food bank at your wedding?. Support local farmers by choosing locally-sourced food, opt for seasonal food and more vegetarian dishes than non-vegetarian.
Replace plastic water bottles with water stations with flavoured filtered water. Opt for reusable water bottles and jugs in the guest rooms. Replace paper napkins with cloth napkins. For cutlery, use ceramic, steel or bamboo. Segregate dry and wet waste so that composting is easier after the celebrations are over.
Buy from sustainable brands, upcycle your wedding dress or borrow from your mother or father’s wardrobe, its nostalgic to wear what your parents wore on their D-day. You can even rent your wedding attire.
You can opt for gift registry services or e-giftcards which can reduce waste generated by gifts alone by almost 50%. However, if you are not in need of any gifts, you can request guests to support charity as gifts. Donating gifts to those in need is a conscientious way to begin your life together.
While you can’t always control what guests gift you, you can be sustainable with return gifts. So, opt for zero-waste themed wedding favours. Don’t t use plastic gift wraps, instead use reusable containers, jute bags or cloth purses.