Sustainable Send Offs

By now most people know the negative effects of throwing rice at the couple after the ceremony. However in place of rice, many new traditions have risen but not all of them are eco-friendly.  Here are some creative suggestions, as well as things to avoid, to have a memorable and sustainable wedding send-off.

Leaves/Petals

Leaves and petals are naturally biodegradable and look gorgeous as a confetti alternative.  Tie in your wedding colors by picking a coordinating petal color. If you are having a fall wedding, take some friends on a nature trail and pick up some colorful leaves to use at your wedding. Just be sure not to take too many leaves from one area as creatures big and small rely on the fall foliage to help with their winter bedding. Don’t want to pick up leaves or petals on your own? Consider shops like Flowerfetti that can ship you buckets of various petals and dried flowers or check with your local florist.

img_2511 Photo: Amanda Dumouchelle

Seeds

Great for guests to throw or keep, either way it’s a nice alternative to throwing rice. Seeds can either be collected later by local wildlife (enjoyed by both birds and squirrels) or you can let nature do it’s thing and eventually the remaining seeds will make their way into the soil to grow on their own.  Word to the wise, seeds are best saved for outdoor send offs.

Ribbon Batons

This could be a great colorful send off, especially if you create the ribbon batons using upcycled materials you find at a local thrift shop.  You could have your guests keep their batons or donate them to a local after school program. This is also a great option for a send off you can do indoors.

Bubbles

Bubbles can look gorgeous and give that light whimsical feel to your send off.  They are ideal for summer and spring weddings and photograph best during daylight. Additionally, bubbles are safe to use indoors.  In order to make your bubble celebration more environmentally friendly, opt for bubble guns over those tiny single use containers.  Bonus: Bubble guns blast out tons of bubbles at a rapid pace making your moment magically photogenic! The bubble guns also make great gifts for any kids at your wedding who may have helped make your day special. There are lots of great ways to incorporate bubbles, just be sure you are not being wasteful in the process by avoiding single use containers.

img_2591Photo: Juliet Lemon

Biodegradable Glitter

Oh yes, this exists my friends! Glitter is magic, but unfortunately conventional glitter has been polluting this planet with tiny bits of plastic since it’s invention. Biodegradable glitter on the other hand can give you that wow factor without the worry of harming the environment. To ensure the glitter is truly eco-friendly, make sure it is made from plant cellulose rather than plastic.  Flowerfetti and Eco Stardust and two companies currently producing eco friendly glitter.

Plantable Confetti

Confetti made from seed paper is your best earth friendly option.  If you have access to confetti cannons or poppers, seed paper confetti would look pretty great and would be a better alternative to tissue paper confetti. Otherwise they could easily be thrown by the handful. However, while still a better option than conventional confetti, biodegradable confetti would make a better party favor rather than something you toss. If you’d like to go the seed paper confetti route, Botanical Paperworks makes great confetti that can be packaged perfectly as favors.

img_2593Photo: Amanda Dumouchelle

CRUNCHY TIP:  For tossable items, make cones using upcycled book pages. This will make it easier to distribute to guests as well as provide a funnel for optimal tossing.

Things To Avoid:

Balloon Release

No no no no NO! Remember what goes up, must come down and releasing balloons into the air IS littering. I cannot emphasize this enough! These balloons end up polluting our grounds and waterways, ending up in oceans and entangled in trees. The strings trap our birds and choke our turtles.  So please, do not release balloons! Hell, just save on that expense and skip balloons entirely.  For more information about the negative impacts balloons have on our environment, check out www.balloonsblow.org.

Butterflies

Unfortunately a growing trend at weddings is to release butterflies either as a send off or as a memory for loved ones lost.  As beautiful as this sentiment may seem, it is actually quite a cruel process. Often these commercial industries are not regulated which means the conditions of which these butterflies are cared for are not monitored or held to certain standards.  Additionally, releasing captive bred butterflies into the wild can have a detrimental effect on the local ecosystem, including introducing disease to native flora and fauna. Let’s not forget as well, that many of these butterflies do not survive the shipping process. And then there is the ethical problem knowing these butterflies are being bred purely for this purpose. Do not be swayed by the commercial industries trying to convince you that this industry is humane and fine for the environment. They are trying to profit off this trend, they are going to tell you what you want to hear to make a sale.  Instead, listen to the North American Butterfly Association, National Wildlife Federation and leading lepidopterists (Biologists who study butterflies) who all support a ban on commercial butterfly release.

Dove Release

Similar to the butterflies, releasing doves is a popular trend in weddings.  However, unlike butterflies, the doves are trained to fly back to a specific destination to be crated and returned back to their enclosures with the dove wrangler.  Currently, the commercial dove industry is also better regulated than the butterfly industry. That being said, there are still the same concerns about the spread of disease, interference in the local ecosystem and the ethical concerns.  Instead, I would recommend looking at some of the other options listed above for a memorable send off.

Sparklers/Fireworks

I’m sorry to have to shoot this one down, but unfortunately sparklers (and fireworks in general) are not an environmentally friendly option.  For starters, the produce a lot of waste- think about all those metal rods being thrown out! They also release toxins which when in high concentrations, say for example dozens of wedding guests lighting them at the same time, can lead to air pollution.  Additionally, depending on the location of your wedding, you may be at risk of starting a wildfire.  As beautiful as this is for an evening send off, I would recommend using twinkling string lights instead.

pexels-photo-811217.jpeg

Sky Lanterns

Similar to balloons, these also end up as liter around our environment.  While we may tend to think of it as a more environmentally responsible choice over balloons because they are made of paper, sadly they still wind up in our oceans and polluting the lands, causing harm to our wildlife.  You are also sending them up into the air propelled by a flame which, like fireworks, poses a potential hazard for wildfires.  From an environmental perspective, this trend is one to let go of.

Hopefully this article inspired you to think about how you can make your send off have a positive environmental impact! Remember, the less waste produced, the better!  If you have any send off ideas you’d like to recommend, we’d love to hear it! Comment below and we will add it to our list!

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