With plastic waste and single-use waste in general across the news recently (and rightly so), the wedding industry hasn’t been spoken about as much. Unfortunately, it can be very easy to be wasteful when it comes to your wedding day, especially plastic waste.
According to Sky Ocean Rescue, the average UK wedding creates approximately 18kg of plastic waste. This is utterly horrific! If plastic waste from every UK wedding each year was added up, this could equate to over 4,910 tonnes of single-use plastic poured into our oceans every year. That’s the equivalent weight of 47 blue whales!
These predictions are absolutely horrific. Just think about it, how many weddings have you been to where you’ve spotted single-use plastic? Could it be the cutlery, cups, or even the wedding favours? You could even pinpoint it down to the packaging the flowers came in, maybe the decorations, the list could go on.
Obviously, the worst offenders are plastic cups, water bottles and decorations. These approximately weigh 6.15kg per wedding. Add in gift bags, plastic confetti and wrapping for wedding favours. Throw in the amount of plastic used in the post-party clean up with plastic bin bags – these are expected to remain in the ground for longer than the time taken to reach a “Stone” wedding anniversary, a whopping 90 years!
We learnt that at HRH Princess Eugenie of York’s wedding was plastic-free. Princess Eugenie is an ambassador for ocean charity Project 0 and she also helped launch the Pass On Plastic Experience in Carnby by Sky Ocean Rescue and Project 0. This aims to educate and inspire people to make everyday changes to help stop our oceans drowning in plastic.
I know what your thinking, so what on earth can I do to help reduce my plastic waste? We asked Fiona Ball, Group Head of Inspirational Business and Sky Ocean Rescue for some ideas. She said, “It’s easy to lose sight of the impact your wedding day has on the environment, with sustainability often the last on the list when it comes to planning celebrations.
“Going plastic-free for your wedding day is more simple than a lot of people might think. Why not consider hiring glassware and cutlery instead of disposable alternatives, replacing plastic cake decorations with edible alternatives and clearing up afterwards using compostable bin bags?
“It might be your big day, but these small changes can all make a vital difference to ocean health. Don’t let plastics waste in the oceans be the legacy from your big day.”
Single-use plastic replacements
The list below is the average amount of single-use plastic items used at a typical celebration with 100 guests. Each one features replacement ideas so you can pass on plastic!
150 plastic plates
Replace with: take advantage of crockery hire or source items from friends and family
50 plastic bin bags
Replace with: compostable bin bags
200 plastic cups
Replace with: glass hire, or speak to your local village hall to borrow an eclectic range or go hunting for pretty old cups from your local charity shop
100 party poppers/cannons/fireworks
Replace with: biodegradable party cannons or homemade streamers
150 water bottles
Replace with: recyclable glass water bottles or pretty wine bottles, emptied and cleaned
300 items of Plastic cutlery
Replace with: metal cutlery hire is an easy option
50 decorations including Plastic streamers/decorations/balloons
Replace with: recyclable paper streamers, giant paper ball decorations or craft some bunting out of old scraps of material
100 presents’ worth of wrapping paper and gift bags
Replace with: asking guests if they could use recyclable wrapping on your invitation, request an experience or even a contribution to the honeymoon
100 table favours (and wrapping)
Replace with: edible gift or recyclable personal note. Why not give a KeepCup to each of your guests, inspiring them to go plastic-free
5 boxes of Plastic petal confetti
Replace with: natural flower petals
50 items of food wrapping
Replace with: local food supplier or farm produce that comes without plastic packaging
1 plastic figurine cake topper
Replace with: natural florals (compostable) or edible cake decorations
100 plastic straws
Replace with: paper straws (or even better, go strawless!)
50 plastic flower displays
Replace with: real flowers cut from the gardens of friends and family for a very special ‘something borrowed’.
50 florists’ foam flower holders
Replace with: recycled glass jam jars or biodegradable hessian ones for a smart floral choice that won’t hurt the environment
10 Plastic bunting decorations
Replace with: lace bunting cut from old tablecloths or curtains for a romantic vintage look
1 Plastic wedding car decoration
Replace with: recycled tin cans tied together with twine or hessian, guaranteed to see you off in style
3 Fake polystyrene wedding cake tiers
Replace these tiers with real cake layers, more yumminess for your guests to enjoy
Are you ditching plastic for eco-friendly alternatives at your wedding? Let us know in the comments below!
For further information on Sky Ocean Rescue and more plastic reduction tips, visit skyoceanrescue.com
*Approximate calculations based on estimated quantities of key single-use plastic items used at a wedding party of 100 people
**According to the Office of National Statistics, there were 239,020 marriages between opposite-sex couples and 6,493 between same-sex couples in 2015, totalling 245,513.