Calculate Your Wedding Carbon Footprint
And why having an eco-friendly wedding matters.
Planning an Eco-Friendly Wedding Using the Wedding Footprint Calculator
You've probably heard the statistics. An average wedding will produce between 400 and 600 pounds of garbage and somewhere around 60 metric tons of CO2 Emissions. That's CRAZY. For reference, the average yearly carbon footprint for an individual in the United States is 16 tons. A wedding produces almost 4 times your individual carbon footprint! If these numbers make you cringe, I'm here to help you make better decisions when it comes to your wedding day. You can use this calculator to help you assess the carbon footprint of your plans and make better decisions when it comes to our planet. Individual choices when it comes to food, drinks, venue, lodging, travel, flowers, etc... will affect your carbon footprint. For example, if you use locally sourced flowers and food, the carbon footprint will be lower than it would be if used flowers and food that were shipped in from across the country (or the world!)
Chances are that if you came across my site, you already know that Leave No Trace and caring for our community are fundamental to my business practices. My goal is to help you and other couples like you create a more sustainable wedding day. To create this calculator, I combined my own wedding industry expertise with scientific calculations provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and the World Resources Institute.
When planning your wedding, you can go back and change your answers in the calculator to see how different choices affect your carbon footprint. And yes, you can use this calculator to plan your elopement as well!
Already used the calculator and looking for tips on how to create a more eco-friendly and sustainable wedding experience? Skip ahead!
How to Use the Carbon Footprint Calculator
To use the wedding carbon footprint calculator, answer each question to the best of your ability. If a section is not applicable to your own wedding or elopement, mark a zero.
If you are eloping with a small group and then hosting a reception at a later date, fill in the reception details to the best of your ability.
Should You Purchase Carbon Offset Credits for Your Wedding?
What is a Carbon Offset Credit? And How To Choose Which Carbon Offset Credit to Purchase.
Your wedding is unique, just like your relationship! But weddings do have something in common- there is a lot of waste that is usually generated for just one event. And yes, you will automatically reduce your carbon footprint by choosing an elopement instead of a big, grand wedding with 250 people...but maybe you still want that party. So, should you purchase carbon offset credits to counteract the carbon footprint of your wedding?
The answer is complicated, because it really depends. Oftentimes, purchasing a carbon offset credit will make you feel good, but it may not have an impact on the planet.
But first, what is a carbon offset credit and why might you purchase them? Purchasing these credits is a way to support green energy initiatives to positively make an impact on the planet. Think: planting trees, supporting wind power initiatives, animal waste management, and renewable energy initiatives.
If you truly want to create a carbon-neutral event, you will have to purchase carbon offset credits, as there will be some environmental impact no matter what you choose. That said, I encourage you to do your research to ensure that what you are supporting will actually benefit the environment.
Projects should be:
Additional- i.e. the positive impact would not happen without the specific project
Permanent- things won't just go back to the old ways once the project is done
Independently verified- this is self-explanatory. Do your research.
How To Reduce The Carbon Footprint of Your Eco-Friendly Wedding
Generally, the bigger the venue, the larger the carbon footprint. To make an informed decision when it comes to your venue, check to see if the venue has generated renewable energy for electricity, uses LEED-certified appliances, and if the venue supports low carbon projects.
Some carbon neutral venues would be:
Getting married outdoors (as long as you don't bring in a tent)
Getting married at the courthouse
Getting married in your backyard
Guest travel is usually the largest contributing factor to a wedding's carbon footprint. Therefore, either having a small wedding or hosting a reception local to the majority of your attendees will reduce your footprint. You can also reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding by hiring local vendors who do not need to fly in specifically for your wedding.
Did you know that most flowers are flown in from Colombia, Ecuador, and Kenya? Not only are the flowers flown in, they are transported in refrigerated cargo due to their fragility. Not to mention the trucks that then transport the flowers to various locations in the US once they arrive in Miami or Newark. To make your wedding more eco-friendly, choose season blooms and work with a local florist who sources from local farms.
Similar to flowers, you can have a more sustainable wedding by working with caterers and private chefs who source local food, compost remains, and operate their businesses in an eco-friendly manner. To be even more eco-friendly, choose vegetarian or vegan meals, as the meat trade is a large source of CO2 emissions.
Luckily, more and more designers are incorporating sustainable practices into their design business- from what fabrics are used, recycling textiles, and re-thinking the dyeing process. If you desperately want to wear a new wedding dress or suit, I recommend finding a designer who shares your eco-conscious values. And if you want to be carbon-neutral, you can always wear a vintage outfit, borrow or re-wear something you already own, or buy secondhand.