An important aspect of all eco-friendly weddings is what happens after the ceremony and reception are over: the proper disposal of everything that’s left. This includes leftover food and cake, beverages, empty bottles, paper and plastic waste, flowers, decorations, and anything else that might still be hanging around at the end of the festivities. While planning this portion of your eco-friendly wedding isn’t nearly as fun as the other areas, it is a necessary one.
Here are some tips for figuring out what’s going to go where at the end of your special day:
1. Check with your reception venue about their waste disposal rules and processes. This is especially important if your venue is handling the entire cleanup. While this might sound lovely, you do want to ascertain that they are not simply going to haul everything to the nearest landfill.
2. If your venue does not handle cleanup, or if they don’t recycle the recyclables, then you’ll need to take this task on yourself. Your goal for disposing leftover wedding items is simple: keep as much out of the landfill as you can. To do so, you’ll need to separate everything into different piles:
• Select another table (or two or three) and load it with everything you’re donating. This might encompass decorations, food, beverages, flowers, etc.
• Everything that’s left should now be put into the appropriate recycling containers: paper, glass, plastic, etc. Be sure that you know what types of materials are recyclable in your area. For example, some paper recyclers will not accept certain types of paper.
3. Donate what you can, but don’t be surprised if you cannot find a place that will accept donated food. If this happens, send leftover food and cake home with your wedding party, family, and other guests. Flowers are easier to donate. Check with local hospitals and nursing homes.
4. Be creative with other wedding stuff you might have left over. As an example, create wedding scrapbooks with ribbons, invitations, place cards, and the like. Other decorations from your wedding and reception might also be able to find a home with a craft-loving friend or family member.
5. In lieu of a gift, ask your wedding party, friends, or other guests to stay after the reception to take charge of or help with the cleaning process. That way, the job will get done faster, so you can get started on the honeymoon. Or you might want to consider hiring some college kids to come in and take care of everything for you. Just be sure you’ve given them direction so they know how to dispose of everything properly.
While cleaning up after your special day might not be on your planning radar just yet, it’s worth the time to ascertain your eco-friendly wedding stays eco-friendly to the very end. By figuring out what can be re-used, donated, and recycled, you’ll lighten the load that your wedding will add to a landfill. Good luck!