I’m excited to announce that we’ll be joining the Plastic Free July movement this year!
Plastic Free July is a campaign started by Australian non-profit WMRC Earth Carers in 2011. Over the years it has grown into a global movement spanning 150 countries, providing information and resources to help people limit and eliminate plastic from their lives. Until looking into their site, I was unaware that only 9% of all plastics ever made have been recycled! Ahh! The rest get remade into cheaper plastics or end up in a landfill. Unlike organic materials, synthetic materials will never fully break down, they just get smaller and smaller (eventually into micro-plastics) that pollute our waterways, killing marine life in the process, and ending up in our food supply as well. Once you know some of these facts you will no longer look at the plastic in your environment the same way again. These global problems can feel huge, and they are huge. But just remember you’re joining to do a part. It’s a process that might not happen this week, month, or even this year, but committing to the challenge is a step in a forward direction. Click the link here or this banner to join with us
You might also be curious as to what this has to do with weddings, and I’ll be sure to get to that because it’s more important that you might think. But first I’ll start with what led me to #zerowaste.
RIGHT TIME + PLACE
It felt like we were moving every year the first few years of our marriage. My husband would get better jobs that just so happened to toss us back and forth across CT and every time we’d pack I’d cringe at the sight of what we accumulated. By the second move, I made a choice to live with less. I refused to move again with things that didn’t add anything to my life. It was the start of really looking at what I owned, what I used and what I really needed. I latched on to minimalism because it felt good to finally get rid of things, but it wasn’t doing any good to anyone else or the environment if my stuff was in a landfill. So that started my path to zero waste. I see it as a way to be more self-sufficient, to be intentional about what I bring into my space, and control what I can about the life cycle of the items I’m consuming. And it’s morphed into a responsibility, like paying rent for this shared space. and keeping it clean so you can get your security deposit back (in good juju).
I share this not to shame you, or to revel in how far I’ve come, but to show that it starts as a choice. Doing this challenge isn’t about what you’re giving up. It’s a decision to say YES to a healthier world! I can’t wait to #choosetorefuse together with you.
START WHERE YOU ARE
If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If you’ve committed to doing what you can to reduce and refuse plastic in your life you’ve done the first big step. Check!
Make sure you register so you can get the resources through email. Get a good read over of the site and take the quiz they offer so you can see where you might need a little extra motivation. And most of all get excited about it!
As I post to our Instagram stories during the month, please follow along @wholeweddings and share where you’re at, what you’ve done, what worked and what didn’t. I’m excited to help any way I can in your journey as so many people have done and continue to do for me.
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31 DAYS TO A GREENER WEDDING
Most people don’t often consider weddings to be a drain on the environment. I mean what harm can one day do, right? Well the answer might surprise you. It’s been reported the average wedding makes 400 – 600 lbs of trash (in my estimation comprised of food and bar waste, disposables including dinnerware and straws, paper, decorations, and items fit for recycling). And were not even talking about other factors like travel emissions or electricity.
[col class=”col-sm-6″] Just to give you an example of what this amount of trash looks like I found an article about a school recycling program and this was 23 bags (weighing in at 398.5 lbs). Gathered from 830 students during one lunch period. The statistics count an average wedding as 189 guests so over a course of a a 4-6 hour wedding reception it can really add up.
Visuals are important tools to understanding the enormity of the trash problem we have on this earth. It’s an often be an out of sight out of mind problem. We put our trash out and it gets picked up and forgotten about until the next trash day. It’s a cycle that this challenge will help to break. By confronting the trash that we create we are recognizing the problems and working towards the solutions. When we can see the trash we make as a single person, we can understand the scaling up that happens at events and parties.
SEA THE CHANGE
As you make each daily step it might also be hard to feel like you’re making an impact. You’re one person, refusing one straw or using one less disposable fork, but the thing you have to remember is millions of people are doing this with you. Millions of people are stepping up and saying NO. They are talking about it to their friends and family, they are sharing online, they are sending a message about the change they want to see. As Rumi said,
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
As you prepare your guest list, look at each person as a force for change. They are there to stand with you as you celebrate love, why not give them the chance to participate in helping the environment too. Who better to change the world with than your closest friends and family!
ONE IS BETTER THAN NONE
It’s been said it takes 21 days to create a new habit. So even if you only make one change in the 31 days you’re already one habit closer to another. As you go through the month pay attention to the confidence you’re gaining from making these changes. The actions will get increasingly more comfortable and achievable as you go along. When you see what you can accomplish in a month, you’ll be amazed what you could accomplish in a year of wedding planning. Taking each part of your wedding step by step, looking for ways to lessen waste is a much easier way approach than an overwhelming to-do list.
Plantable stationery is a great way to reduce waste in an approachable, familiar way.
More than a Scout motto, being prepared is the easiest way to refuse plastic. Because you’re ready with a backup plan, an alternative that answers the problem. The same goes for planning a wedding. If an eco-friendly wedding is important to you, learn as much as you can about ways to make it happen. Talk about it with your friends + family. Give yourself enough time to plan. Research eco-friendly replacements to what you see online. Whether you have family or a professional wedding planner, enlist them to help you create things so you buy less. Each change you make during this challenge is preparing you for a new way of looking at waste.
I keep these 5 items with me at all times and they also happen to be great reminders of ways to reduce wedding waste too.
REUSABLE BAG: Reminder to give guests favors they can use again. Cloth bags are nice welcome gifts for destination weddings and our custom printed napkins make great favors to be used at the reception and taken home as a remembrance of your first meal together. Perhaps you can skip a favor all together in lieu of a donation to a cause you care about.
GLASS JAR / BOTTLE: Reminders to use glass vs. plastic and save water. Can you limit the amount of glassware on the table or ask guests to reuse their glass again? Both of these solutions will save water when the dishes are washed later. Be upfront with your guests about your efforts to lessen waste. If you share with them why you care, they’ll most likely be happy to oblige.
METAL STRAW: Reminder to ask your caterer or bartender to go straw-less. Cocktail stirrers are almost never recycled because they’re too thin to pass through the machines. If children or adults are in need of a straw, provide a few paper ones for them behind the bar.
CLOTH NAPKIN: Reminder to look for fabrics made of natural materials (a-la sans micro-plastics). If possible avoid synthetic materials for your attire, table linens and decor. Choose a dress you can refashion later, linens you can reuse in your home or give away to someone who could use them.
REUSABLE UTENSILS: Reminder to consider food waste. Talk to your caterer or venue about the best ways to serve your guests with as little waste as possible. Maybe that means a buffet vs a plated dinner so guests can choose what they are able to eat. Can you work with a charitable organization to donate the leftovers, or arrange for the scraps to be composted?
And if you need other suggestions our Facebook group is an amazing resource!
PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION
The point of this challenge is to start a series of tiny steps that build on each other. Focus on why you’re making these changes, and what these changes do for the environment, more than the action you’re doing. That way despite of the result, your mindset is in the right place. Perfection is not the goal in changing your lifestyle and certainly not for your wedding either. I live in this mantra of Teddy Roosevelt always,
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
If I don’t get the chance to tell you individually in the comments or posts this month, I want to thank you for joining this challenge with me. Thank you for taking 31 days to think about plastic and how it changes our environment. Thank you for taking 31 days to build patterns and tools to approach eco-friendly weddings. Thank you for reading this and being a part of something close to my heart. And lastly, thank you for sharing this earth with me.