Weddings look very innocent and wonderful on the surface. Behind the scenes, though, all the trappings of a modern wedding can easily end up creating hundreds of pounds of trash and dozens of tons of carbon dioxide, the gas that is causing the planet’s atmosphere to become warmer. With somewhere between two and three million weddings taking place in any given year, that’s a lot of extra stuff dumped into the environment. Here are some eco-friendly wedding trends that will help you avoid being part of the wedding waste problem.

1. Sack The Balloons

It’s true that balloons make beautiful, cheap and easy wedding decorations; they’re actually really horrible for the environment. When they pop, they can leave small pieces of rubber that are exceptionally harmful to whatever may mistake them as food. If pieces escape and end up in the water system, eventually, they’ll be ingested by fish and birds, and may even contribute to the ever-growing ocean garbage patches.

Instead – Rent vintage umbrellas to hang around your venue. They’re bright and colorful, and rented items won’t be chucked in the trash after your wedding.

2. Opt For Eco-Friendly Confetti

One of the most beautiful eco-friendly wedding trends involves using flower petals instead of plastic confetti for your send-off. Even if you have the confetti tossed inside (keeping it off the street), it just gets swept into the trash with everything else, ending up in a landfill, where it will sit for hundreds of years.

Instead – Use brightly-colored flower petals as your confetti. Not only do flower petals decay readily, if you dry them before you need them, they can be lightly crushed and mixed with birdseed for eco-friendly confetti with an earthy feel.

3. Choose Local, Seasonal Flowers

Flowers that are out of season take a lot of extra care; they often have to be transported hundreds of miles in refrigerated trucks.

Instead – Eco-friendly wedding trends demand local, in-season blooms that don’t have to be grown outside their normal season and can typically be obtained from local florists and growers. You can also go all natural and pick a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers.

4. A Few More Eco-Friendly Options

Diamonds are exceedingly unfriendly to the planet, as their mining often wipes out whole ecosystems and animal habitats. There are lots of great lab-created diamond options that are much more eco-friendly (and less expensive), while still being just as beautiful as natural diamonds.

Avoid using too much paper when you’re choosing your wedding stationery, too. Eco-friendly wedding trends have taken a minimalist approach to invitations, save-the-date cards, and RSVPs. Use postcards whenever possible to reduce the need for envelopes (and to save on postage) and choose wedding stationery that is made from recycled or sustainably-produced materials.

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