RSVP “Yes!” to a More Sustainable Wedding

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Sustainability isn’t a word reserved for fuel companies and takeout food containers. It’s a way of living that should be incorporated into our lives whenever possible, especially on our wedding day.

According to Stanford Magazine, the average carbon footprint of a wedding in the United States is 56 tons. To put that into perspective, the average American produces 16.2 tons of carbon dioxide a year, and there are an average of 2.18 million weddings per year, according to The Wedding Report.

An easy way to green up your wedding is to rethink your paper use, and it starts with the invitations. If you consider that the average number of wedding guests is 127, and factor in the envelopes and RSVP cards that accompany the invitation, that paper really adds up! The invitations are an essential part of the wedding (if you want people to show up, that is), but while you can’t do away with them altogether, there are alternatives. We’re not talking e-vites, which should be saved only for less formal occasions, such as the rehearsal dinner or bachelorette party; there are so many other modern, eco-friendly substitutes. If the cold, hard facts aren’t reason enough to rethink the sustainability of your wedding, these adorable alternatives should do the trick, from Martha Stewart-level DIY projects to simple waste-reducing tips.

Consider opting for invitations that serve another purpose. If it doubles as something useful, your guests are more likely to re-use it instead of throwing it away. For example, if cooking is your oyster, print your invitation onto a small cutting board. If your crew is known for bringing on the waterworks, print or embroider the details onto vintage handkerchiefs.

Personalized coasters are another great option. The guest’s name can be printed on one side, with the wedding details on the other. The options are almost endless. Your guests will have a keepsake to commemorate the occasion, and they’ll be appreciative of the thought that went into it.

Give new life to ordinary objects by repurposing them into a creative wedding invitation, using your wedding theme to come up with ideas that can come from browsing through your favorite vintage store or taking a walk in the park. You could inscribe with calligraphy the details on the backs of puzzle pieces or inside seashells you’ve collected. If there’s a lumberjack in your midst, consider using gathered wood scraps to carve, wood burn or stamp on the details to set the tone for an earthy affair. It’s all about using what’s already available that ties into your theme, saving energy and fuel that would have been put into creating something new.

Plantable Paper
Sometimes, a paper invitation is all that will do. What if, instead of tearing down trees to provide paper for your invitation, your invitation could plant one? Many companies, such as Bloomin and Botanical Paperworks, specialize in seed paper that, when planted, grows into wildflowers, vegetables, herbs and other plants, so your guests can think of you when their garden blooms. It’s totally biodegradable, so no harm is done if it’s not planted. Plus, the paper is made from post-consumer materials, which means that no trees were harmed in the making of the stationery.

Quick Fixes
Many eco-friendly ideas involve a bit of DIY and extra planning. If you don’t have a crafty bone in your body, there are still ways to increase the sustainability of your invitations. First, be considerate of the amount of materials you’re sending—do you really need 13 different miniature cut-outs, or could you consolidate the information onto one piece of paper?

Think about the ink as well. Many companies offer soy- or vegetable-based inks that are not toxic to the environment. Go with 100 percent recycled paper; most design companies offer this as an option. You can also consider invitations that are printed directly onto the envelope to cut back on paper use. And don’t forget shipping! Mailing invitations uses fuel and other resources, so try to keep things light, and consider hand-delivering to people you see on a regular basis; Emily Post can forgive your manners for the sake of going green.

The invitation is one of the first glimpses your guests have of your wedding. It sets the tone for the whole affair. With sustainability being a hot-button topic over the last decade, eco-friendly options are popping up everywhere. Sustainable invitation options not only help save the planet, but they also offer uniqueness, creativity and cost savings. So send your regrets to run-of-the-mill invitations that will only end up in the garbage, and spring for one of these sustainable swaps instead. ■

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