Eco weddings – where sustainability is as much a focus as romance – are a huge trend at the moment. Whether it’s the marriage itself or the celebrations that mark each following year, more of us are looking at new ways to reduce our environmental impact than ever before.
When it comes to weddings, being mindful of the environment makes sense because, as wonderful as they are, they involve lots of waste. Research shows that thousands of wedding cakes end up in the bin, 99% of flowers are eventually chucked out and 10% of food is thrown away. In fact, UK weddings generate a staggering 37.8 tonnes of solid waste every year and, what’s more, collectively they release 1,646,286 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
With all this in mind, it’s only natural that there should be a shift away from the excesses of the traditional wedding and a growing interest in more planet-friendly alternatives for milestone marriages and anniversaries. As well as a boom in searches for sustainable rings, biodegradable confetti and carbon-offset gift lists, there has been an equally high level of interest in eco-friendly transport, climate-considerate catering and sustainable decorations.
So, if your wedding was a green one, it’s likely you’ll want to follow similar principles when it comes to marking each wedding anniversary. If you are a committed climate-conscious couple (who exchanged vows and lowered your carbon footprints), there are unique ways to mark your anniversary and keep that shared eco-friendly passion alight.
Whether it’s a year since you tied the knot or you’re celebrating an eco wedding a decade on, we look at six ways to honour an anniversary with minimal impact to the planet.
Host an eco-friendly anniversary party
There are many ways you can host an eco-friendly wedding anniversary party. Look for unique marquee and sustainable tent suppliers committed to carbon-offsetting travel and transport solutions, locally-sourced produce and reusable products.
If you’re catering for a large crowd, think about the many ways you can reduce the food waste mentioned above. Avoid single-use plastics and party food that is heavily packaged, or serve local craft beer on tap and order in brands from your nearest gin supplier or winery.
Design an album or journal with recycled paper
A gift made of paper is perfect for those celebrating their first anniversary – paper. But of course you’ll want to make sure it’s recycled paper first.
Recycled paper uses less energy, water and produces lower carbon emissions than the manufacturing of non-recycled paper. In addition, it reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfill as paper can be recycled up to five times.
How about choosing a beautiful album made of recycled paper? Why not fill it with photos from your first year of married life (printed with water-based ink and on recycled paper)?
Or, you could buy a simple journal and record all the best moments from your wedding, or snippets describing your guests’ favourite memories from the day. Simple as they may be, heartfelt, handmade gifts often have the most meaning.
Give lab-grown diamonds or vintage jewellery
If your other half loves jewellery, treat them to a special piece without contributing to unethical mining practices. Lab-grown diamonds are created in a setting that simulates the natural process of a diamond’s growth. While visually and physically identical to a natural diamond they are considered a more sustainable option than mined ones. What’s even better, they cost up to 60% less than the real deal.
If a lab-grown jewel won’t cut it with your husband or wife, and you’ve considered other unique anniversary gift ideas, you could think about buying vintage jewellery. While offering the same quality and craftsmanship as new, choosing antique or second-hand jewellery means you don’t need to worry about contributing to the huge waste of modern manufacturing processes.
Treat spouses to luxurious linen sheets
Four years since you got hitched? Then you’ll know that your treat ought to be something made of linen – said to represent the purity and honesty of marriage. Fortunately, linen also happens to be one of the most eco-friendly fabrics there is.
Strong, capable of withstanding high-washing temperatures and made from flax plant fibres, a gift made of linen is ideal for your eco-conscious partner. Linen bed sheets have long been a popular wedding gift as they feel luxuriously cool yet will stand the test of time. Plus, you’ll both get to enjoy them! Alternatively, you could also consider a framed linen map of a country that’s important to your partner, or a snuggly throw for cosy evenings on the sofa together.
Plant a tree for that everlasting bond
What could be better than marking the way your love has grown than by gifting your husband or wife a tree? Show your partner that you value them by choosing one rich in symbolism.
Pomegranates have long been associated with romance; Romeo and Juliet spent their first night together beside a pomegranate tree and Greek legend has it that it was Aphrodite, the goddess of love herself, who planted the first one. A potted pomegranate tree – which can be grown in a greenhouse or by a sunny window – is sure to mean a lot.
A cherry blossom represents love and the female mystique in many cultures. Give a cherry blossom tree and you’ll not only get top marks for romance but you’ll be able to enjoy watching it blossom every year.
No garden? Plant a tree somewhere else. The National Trust‘s Plant a Tree fund allows people to make a donation for the charity to plant a tree at one of their sites in exchange for a certificate that can be gifted.
Order a dedicated food hamper
Consumable gifts are certainly low on waste. But of course it’s important to choose carefully if you want to ensure packaging and transport is kept to a minimum.
If your other half is a dedicated foodie, research the options available from your nearest deli or farm shop. Many will make up a hamper to your individual specifications – meaning you can choose to fill it with all her favourite treats – and by collecting it from the shop you’ll cut back on fuel as well as helping support a local business.
If you decide to order one online, look for businesses with a focus on ethical, fairtrade produce and products made predominantly by UK suppliers. Sites such as socialsupermarket.org offer a huge range of hampers filled with UK craft lagers, fairtrade chocolate and producers that donate to conservation charities and support farming communities.
As well as introducing your partner to eco brands and supporting social enterprises, environmentally-friendly businesses usually use eco packaging and often run their warehouses on renewable energy. Some even offset the carbon from their deliveries. All of which means you get serious kudos and the planet benefits too.