The average wedding produces 400 lbs of garbage, and one of the biggest contributors to this shocking figure is food waste. According to a Sainsbury study, 10% of all wedding food ends up going straight to a landfill after your event. Food waste isn’t the only culprit when it comes to waste at weddings, ingredients traveling far distances, single-use plastics, and food with a high carbon footprint are all contributors to the 63 tons of CO2 produced at the average wedding. If you are looking to cut back food-related waste at your wedding or event, here are some of our best tips when it comes to eco-friendly wedding catering.
When reading these tips, please remember, you don’t have to do it all (although you certainly can try!). It can be easy to get overwhelmed with all of the options out there, budgetary restrictions, and the eco-friendly services available in your area. Just making one or two of these choices is a positive step in reducing waste on your wedding day and making our planet a better place to live!
1. Select eco-friendly wedding catering vendors
One of the easiest ways to reduce waste at your wedding is selecting a caterer that specializes in sustainability or farm to table catering practices. Not only is farm to table a trendy way to provide delicious and fresh cuisine to your guests, but it’s also a great way to ensure that your ingredients are locally grown, in season, and organic. A great farm to table caterer will already have tons of ideas on how to reduce waste, so you won’t have to think as much about the sustainability aspect of your food choices.
If you can’t find eco-friendly wedding catering your area, fear not! We recommend asking local vendors to see what sustainability practices they do (or don’t) follow. You may just find an amazing caterer who is happy and excited to work with you to create a more eco-friendly menu! The following tips can give you inspiration on what environmentally conscious choices you can make to reduce waste on your special day.
2. Source locally-grown ingredients
Shopping for local ingredients is great for our communities and our planet. By searching for locally-sourced ingredients, you’ll reduce shipping footprints, plastic waste, and support local farms while also sourcing incredibly fresh ingredients. Plus, locally-grown food just tastes better!
3. Curate an in-season menu
Whether you are working with a farm to table caterer or a conventional caterer to create your wedding menu, choosing seasonal ingredients is an excellent way to make your wedding more eco-friendly. In-season ingredients are more likely to be grown closer to home and are at peak freshness. Ask your caterer what the best in-season options are, and design your menu with this in mind.
4. Go organic
I know what you’re thinking…go organic? Won’t that be expensive? While choosing organic foods may add additional costs to your wedding day, there are many ways to save money when planning an eco-friendly wedding. Reduced guest lists, secondhand dresses and decor, budget-friendly flower alternatives…these are just a few ways you can save on costs, leaving room in your budget for organic ingredients. Why go organic? Fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals used in food production have a significant impact on our environment. These high-quality, healthy ingredients are better for the earth and our bodies!
5. Consider a vegetarian or vegan menu
It is no secret that the meat industry is a huge producer of methane gases, but did you know that 1,799 gallons of water are used to produce 1 pound of beef? Now imagine how much water and resources go into producing meat for each of your guests! Perhaps one of the most impactful (and easiest) ways to reduce food-related waste on your wedding day is choosing to offer a vegetarian or vegan menu. If you don’t want to go full vegetarian, try offering meat with a lower carbon footprint (like chicken), and search for free-range, grass-fed, local options. Even offering a vegetarian selection to guests is a great way to reduce meat consumption if you don’t want to offer a completely vegetarian spread.
6. Say no to single-use plastic…
Plastic cutlery, paper napkins and plates, and other single-use items are all big contributors to waste at weddings! Try renting your plates, linen, and cutlery, and remind your venue and caterer that you are saying no to single-use plastics. If you are planning a more casual event or reusable food-service items aren’t an option, look into sourcing recycled, recyclable, and biodegradable single-use items.
7. …and plastic water bottles
In hot summer months, it can be tempting to pass out water bottles for guests to use. Instead, consider setting up a water station so your guests can stay hydrated without adding to plastic waste. A simple swap that is also budget-friendly!
8. Offer local alcohol and buy in bulk
When deciding what drinks to offer at your wedding, try looking for locally produced beer, wine, and spirits. Not only will you be supporting local businesses, but you’ll also be reducing your wedding’s carbon footprint. See if any local vendors offer bulk items. A keg, for example, is much more eco-friendly than individual beer bottles. An added bonus? Oftentimes, buying in bulk can save you money!
9. Compost food waste
Eco-friendly caterer or no, composting food waste from your wedding is the perfect way to keep your wedding food scraps out of a landfill! In fact, 28 percent of everything we throw away could be composted instead. Ask your caterer to compost their food scraps, and provide a compost bin for guests or servers to use. Composting is such an easy way to reduce waste at your wedding.
10. Offset your carbon
If these resources or eco-friendly wedding catering aren’t available to you, consider offsetting your carbon! Websites like Carbonfund.org are a great resource for offsetting weddings and events. Learn more about what it will cost to offset your catering (or your entire wedding!) here.
Bonus: Don’t stop at eco-friendly wedding catering
Follow us on Instagram @petalsforhope for more great eco-friendly wedding tips and flower inspiration!
Planning a more eco-friendly wedding doesn’t just stop at catering! There are so many aspects of your wedding where you can look to reduce waste. Flowers, stationery, decorations, your venue, attire, jewelry…are all great places to look into planning a more eco-friendly wedding that celebrates your love for the planet and each other.
Here at Petals for Hope, we are passionate about reducing waste from weddings and events and helping our communities. To learn more about how our nonprofit can help you recycle your wedding flowers and distribute them to those in need, click here!
For more great tips on planning an eco-friendly wedding, check out these posts: