Your planet has played no small part in giving you exactly what you have to celebrate – so what steps can you take to minimise the environmental impact of your Big Day? At each stage of your preparations, remember the R’s of sustainable living: Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle. And possibly the most powerful of the lot – Rethink! Here are a few suggestions to get you going:


Reduce – the number and/or size. Send one invite to all those living at the same address. Think smaller and delicate, or minimalist and smart, rather than large and lavish. It’ll save you money, too. Reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by using our pedal-powered post office.

  • Re-use – the embellishments. Someone you know will have a store of beads, ribbons and other little goodies to make your wedding invitations unique. And use recycled paper.
  • Re-cycle – ask your guests to help the earth by recycling your invitation. A little one-liner printed at the bottom or on the reverse side gets your message across.
  • Re-think! Consider e-vites. There are some beautiful options available for a small fee on the web – this will cut your costs too.


Reduce – the wrappings. Many gift services have this as an optional extra – ask that your gifts are not wrapped, this will give your guests a few more rands to spend on you! If you have a gift registry, request environmentally responsible items like energy efficient appliances, or locally made products, to keep your carbon footprint to a minimum.

  • Re-use – the wrappings. Understandably some people still like to hand over a festive parcel with all the trimmings. Encourage your guests to re-use wrapping paper and gift bags.
  • Re-cycle – all wrapping and packaging that can’t be re-used. Polystyrene too! (This can be recycled at certain depots).
  • Rethink! The ultimate green gift is, of course, your own piece of the natural environment. Whether your guests sponsor you a tree, or an acre of Africa dedicated to conservation, this is the type of selfless gifting is what really needs to be encouraged – it’s our material ways that got us into all this trouble in the first place.

Decorations and Party Favours:

– holding your event in a natural setting (garden, wine farm, beach …) drastically reduces the need for decoration as nature has done all the work.

Re-use – fairy lights, chair covers, tablecloths, candles, vases and many other decorations can be hired for your event. In this way quality décor is shared by many users, reducing your impact on the environment. Disposable decorations tend to look cheap and generate huge amounts of waste.

Re-cycle – any paper wastage. Note that heavily dyed tissue paper or streamers cannot be recycled. You could put them in your compost though. Locally grown cut flowers are considered carbon neutral – but be aware of their origin. Flying them in from Kenya immediately hikes your environmental impact.

Re-think! For party favours that make pretty table decorations, how about a few seeds in a little muslin bag for your guests to plant at home? Tiny potted cacti or violets also make a beautiful and lasting gift. Chillis, herbs, wild strawberries – these all package very attractively and are a wonderfully green memento of your special day.

Travelling guests

You may be honoured with guests who are travelling from far away to be with you on this momentous occasion. Consider asking them to offset their greenhouse gas emissions from plane and car journeys by planting a tree to mark the occasion, or by supporting one of the many worthy projects that will do this for you. You could also ask them to consider choosing environmentally responsible accommodation.


If you’re having your celebration at a venue that handles all the logistics, insist upon a comprehensive recycling plan – it is so easy and there are many companies who will come and collect your separated waste should your venue not be equipped to handle it. Glass, all paper and cardboard products, tins and cans can all be recycled without the need for a specialist depot.

Food waste

Once you have enjoyed your feast with your family and friends, consider donating your leftover food to those not so fortunate. There are many charities and shelters for the homeless that would receive your unwanteds with gratitude. Leftover cake and desserts are always a hit at a children’s home!

Green Door Sustainable Living provides a consulting service for all your sustainable living needs and will be happy to advise you on any aspect of greening your event. We have a large database of goods and services to assist you in minimising the environmental impact of your big day. We are also available to liaise with your venue and/or your planner towards achieving a greener and more sustainable event – our thanks to the Earth for all it has given!

For more information, visit Green Door Consulting
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