Back in March my mom surprised me with a zero waste bridal shower! She planned everything with my mother-in-law, and my maid of honor. I had no clue and no hand in helping them. But they absolutely did their best to keep it as low waste as possible, which I truly found so touching. As someone planning her own wedding, I know how stressful event planning can be! Add zero waste into the mix and you may want to pull a few hairs out. Jokes aside, if you’re looking to plan your own bridal shower, or want to drop some hints to the person who is planning it, be sure to share this article with them! Here’s how to have the best zero waste bridal shower.
8 Ways to Have The Best Zero Waste Bridal Shower
1. Choose your venue mindfully
When picking a venue for your bridal shower, it’s a good idea to consider a few things beforehand:
- Do they offer composting or recycling?
- Are they serving everything with reusables? Aka ceramic plates, glasses, etc.
- Is it already naturally beautiful? Ex: Outdoors? Needs less décor?
- Can they accommodate eco requests? Ex: Wrapping leftovers to be donated or given to family members?
- Last but not least, will the bride (you) like it? Is this a place she loves or would go to?
2. Get paperless, recycled or seeded invites
When you’ve booked the location, you’ll need to send out some invites! You can go paperless by doing digital invites, or even text message invites. Or, if you’re more traditional, choosing recycled paper or seed paper is a lovely option.
3. Choose sustainable décor
Opt out of using balloons and glitter – these are single-use decorations that just create a lot of waste. Instead, why not use:
- Rice paper pom-poms and garlands
- Potted plants
- Biodegradable confetti (like dried flower petals/hole-punched leaves)
- Chalkboard signs
- Fruit (yes, you can create beautiful fruit displays using farmers market produce! Think cornucopia!)
- Signs and displays made from upcycled materials (like cardboard boxes!)
- Fresh flowers (more on that below)
- Thrifted items (you can find cute vases/containers for flowers at thrift stores! Or frames for print-outs)
These items are plastic-free, reusable, and/or compostable. So they will have a generally lower impact.
4. Go with organic/local/foraged flowers
The flowers you choose matter! The best option would be to book an organic florist that also utilizes zero waste practices by composting the flowers after the shower. But if you cannot find that, choosing to support a local florist and having conversations about sustainability is great too.
Ask your florist if you can use local, in-season blooms. Even better, ask if they can be pesticide-free and arranged without floral foam (aka plastic). You may not be able to get your florist to agree to all of this, because most flowers are shipped in from Ecuador, BUT, settling on even one of these is a win.
Another option, especially if it’s a smaller bridal shower, is to check and see what your local farmers market has in terms of flowers. You may find some truly beautiful blooms for a nice price! And they’ll probably be free of nasty pesticides (bonus!).
Foraging for your flowers is a great idea, if you have the time and the means. This will all depend on where you live, and what time of year it is. For example, lilac blooms every spring and is a wonderful flower for centerpieces, whereas in summer you may be able to find some beach roses by the shore.
You can even use flowers from your yard/garden! Get creative and the possibilities are endless.
5. Serve buffet or family style
Serving things buffet or family style helps reduce waste. Let me explain.
When you offer things like individually wrapped cookies, cupcakes, and sandwiches, that’s a lot of plastic waste. Family/Buffet style makes sure to eliminate the chance of any single-use surprises. I find this is easier to do if you host the bridal shower in a restaurant.
If the bridal shower is more like a picnic, ask everyone to bring something (like a potluck!) and make sure to provide reusable plates (easy to get a cheap set at thrift stores), or compostable ones.
Family/Buffet style also helps reduce food waste because people can pick and choose exactly what they want. This will make sure they don’t have anything on their plate they don’t intend on eating. You’re able to see the food right there in front of you and decide what appeals to you. It’s less of a surprise.
We also had a candy + dessert station where you could build your own “goodie bag” – aka put what you want in a cute cardboard cup (pictured). Better than a plastic baggie!
6. Play eco party games with zero waste prizes
One of the coolest parts of my zero waste bridal shower was the games we played! I say that not just because they were fun, but because the prizes were zero waste!
A fun party game we played was passing around this small umbrella that makes for adorable décor in the home. My cousin and maid of honor would tell us who to pass it to (ex: “pass it to the girl with curliest hair” or “pass it to the one wearing blue”, etc.). And then, whoever it winds up with at the end of the game is the winner!
Some eco-friendly prize ideas:
- Vegan + package-free bar soap from Ecoroots or Lush
- A basket full of zero waste goodies from EarthHero like a bamboo toothbrush, a recycled notebook, vegan skincare, plastic-free band-aids, etc.
- Shampoo bars
- Vegan, plastic-free and ethically-made chocolate
- Homemade or farmers market jams, jellies and honey
- Handcrafted beeswax candles
Get creative! What plastic-free goodies would you enjoy receiving?
7. Ask for no plastic wrapped gifts
One of the big things to do at bridal showers is to wrap things in clear plastic wrap. This is SO wasteful and annoying to unwrap. It’s purposeless, beyond looking pretty (to some. I personally do not think it looks nice).
On the invitation, ask your friends and family to not wrap the gifts, or get creative with gift wrapping.
Encourage them to think outside the box and remind them you can use several things to wrap/store gifts, like:
- Tea towels
- Pretty fabric, lace or scarves
- Furoshiki wrap
- Mason jars
If it’s a really big present, it doesn’t need to be wrapped. Most gifts were probably requested from the bride’s registry anyway! So she will already know what it is and be delighted to see it.
8. Do something sentimental
One way to really wow and touch the bride’s heart? A sentimental gift from everyone. For me, people did this by filling out a recipe book with their favorite recipes. Some of the recipes I got are even family recipes, making them extra special!
To do this, my mom included a little note in each invitation saying “recipes for the newlyweds” and “we have one small request that shouldn’t be hard. Please bring a favorite recipe on the enclosed card.” Then they assembled all the recipes they got into a recipe book they gifted to me!
It was such a sweet gift and I’ve already made several recipes from it. I can’t wait to make more. It just gives me this sense of connection to each person who wrote it. And I truly love that!
Plus, cooking at home and using a recipe can help you reduce waste and better plan your meals. Knowing what you want to make for the week ahead of time means less frivolous grocery purchases that are likely to go bad before you can get to them. So I can truly appreciate the inspiration these recipes give me!
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