How to Throw an Eco-Friendly Wedding Shower

by - Thursday, September 13, 2018

zero-waste bridal shower

So your friends are getting married, and you want to throw them a party- so exciting! Weddings are a great time to celebrate and to think about the future. One great way to protect that future is to throw an environmentally conscious event, focusing on taking care of the environment. Because a happy future may have a mixer in it, but a happier future has clean air.

You don't have to announce it; your guests will probably not even notice the difference, they will only notice what a great time they had. So let's look at simple ways to throw an amazing shower:

1. Go Recycled Paper (or Paperless) for your Invitations

What do you do with an invitation after a party? Usually, the answer is throw it away. That is a lot of added waste to the world! Instead, you can go two different directions (depending on the formality and tech saviness of your crowd).

First, you can find recycled options for all of your invitations. No trees have to come down so you can throw a brunch.

I found a bunch of stationary places that use recycled paper; some are even filled with seeds so you can plant them! To check out these amazing companies, look at this post. Since then, I have also fallen in love with Whole Weddings, that does gorgeous plantable invitations as well.

If you have a younger crowd, you can probably get away with paperless invitations for your event. I think and Paperless Post offer really cute invitations, and you can track RSVP's and ask for pictures from the same site, which is pretty convenient. This may have been a faux pas 10 years ago, but now most people think of it as commonplace.

2. Switch Up the Registry

Wedding showers are really all about the gifts, so to have a green shower, you really need to think of all the gifts being consumed. It may seem strange at first, but consumerism is one of the key factors in climate change, so it takes a change in consumerism to see things improve.

If you love the couple enough to throw them a shower, you may love them enough to throw in a suggestion or two. It can be tempting to approach the registry with a "what do we want" attitude, but thinking more about what they need and what does good. That means a shift in priorities, but even more it means that they would have to do all sorts of research to have an ethical, lasting, and green registry.

Luckily, I have done all that work already. You can literally scroll through this registry and find everything on their list ethically and locally-made. If nothing else, it might be a fun thing for them to browse through as they figure out what the heck they are going to do with their registry!

3. Suggest Secondhand, Experiences, or Just Money 

(No, Really!)

There is this unwritten rule that you never EVER even mention the registry on a wedding or shower invitation. You would NEVER dare to ask for money or help with your honeymoon. It is UNHEARD of to actually ask for things secondhand. I mean, who would do that!??! New is so NEW?!?!

Alright everyone, let's stop clutching our pearls for a minute and get real.

A shower is literally a party where the couple (often the bride because obviously only heterosexual women use towels) is SHOWERED with gifts. It is a "we'll give you scones, you give us a blender party." Why are people not allowed to say this? Why do we have to pretend? It may be too much for the couple to say what they really want is help with their honeymoon, but you as their host can pass that message along.

Not only that, but money toward a down payment or honeymoon is WAY more eco-friendly than the gift of a toaster (when they already have a toaster but felt like they had to register for something). And if the couple is eco-friendly, secondhand alternatives to the items on their registry keeps more things out of landfills and in use.

So, consider being a huge rule breaker and actually telling people what the couple want. Maybe their grandmas will be offended, but really, will anyone else care?

zero-waste bridal shower

4. Serve (Sneaky) Vegetarian Treats

In general, the production of meat products come at huge environmental price; they use up resources and cause a lot of waste. All the dead zones in the ocean you hear about? They are basically caused by the waste of beef production. If you want to cut into climate change, eat way less meat. Fish turns out to have serious problems as well; fishing nets are the number one source of plastic in the oceans.

You can usually only control what you do, but when you throw a party, you control what everybody does. A good host or hostess is really just someone who knows how to properly wield power (i kid, sort of). So, for this event, you get to control what everyone on the guest list eats for lunch. Choose something vegetarian. That's a little less food being eaten, and people will probably not even notice. Try a bunch of soups, an amazing salad, or some pasta. Give them carbs, and no one will complain.

This little gesture can keep a bunch of meat from being eaten and might even inspire a guest!

zero-waste bridal shower scrapbook shower

5. Focus on Memories, Not Materialism

Showers are kind of the worst in that they are the apex of capitalism. They are literally just about showering someone in stuff that you bought. There are games about the stuff that you bought. Everyone has to pretend to be excited about the stuff other people bought.

But seriously, who cares?

The couple picks out exactly what they want, they can track how it is going, and then they receive it. It would be like if every student watched while their other students turn in their assignments. Yes, you did your homework. And if this is a rare time where the bride(s) or groom(s) get to be with their loved ones, do they really want to spend it opening a mixer? (Seriously, who cares? Pretending about caring about other peoples' shower gifts is one of the worst parts about being a woman. It's up there with cramps and inexplicable gender inequality).

So I am suggesting an absolutely radical step to take at the shower you host: Don't open the presents there.

Instead, think about other things people can share at the shower. For my shower, everyone brought a scrapbook page or two. It was an amazing gift, and many of the pages have only grown more precious to me as life happens. You could have all of your guests show off their pages instead of giving a gift. Or each person could bring a piece of advice to share. Bring a recipe and a memory about it to put into one big book. There are so many options here, and you should do whatever best fits the couple.

You can let people know ahead of time, so if there is something they really want to watch be opened, they can come up with another plan.

Yes, someone will complain. Who cares? People will complain about anything.

outdoor bridal shower

6. Go Outside

The easiest way to have a beautiful party without spending a bunch of money on decorations or a fancy room is to simply have it outside. A beautiful venue means you won't need much to make it special, and the less you decorate with, the less waste you make.

Yes, this can be risky if you live in a rainy place (and obviously seasons come into play here too), but if you can have your party outside, do it!

Not only will it save you money, but it also nearly guarantees your guests will have a better time. Being outside and in the sun creates all sorts of positive chemical reactions in all of our brains. The pictures will all have great light. People will remember it fondly. We all are happier when we live outside. Such a simple shift in planning, but it has a huge effect and will save lots of waste.


7. Decorate With Meaning (And Without Balloons)

If you want to nail the decorations I have two big pieces of advice:

1. Think about decorations that could be used again.
2. Only bother with decorations that are meaningful.

Neither of these are particularly "green" advice, but in following these ideas, you can actually do all sorts of good for the environment. It couldn't be easier to run to Target or Walmart and just grab some stuff from the party aisle; vinyl tablecloths, balloons, and themed paper plates.

But balloons and disposables are terrible for the environment. Both not only introduce more chemicals into our water and land (causing a lot of harm to our bodies) but they are also easily mistaken for food by birds. And honestly, balloons are not that cute. You can do better. Check this blog for tons of ideas for simple and cost-effective replacements. There are more than you think!

That said, when you decorate, if you focus on things that can be used again (vases that can be game prizes, reusable napkins to stock the couple for life, picture frames to take home, scrapbook pages to be treasured later, etc), you can set the couple's home up with treasures that are already deeply meaningful and imbued with the love of that day. My favorite idea? Decorate each table with a sapling or small plant, and then go plant them in the couple's yard (if they have one). What a happy thing to help them remember (and breathe).

That's pretty cool, and certainly beats a garbage bag full of balloons. Maybe you will have fewer things, but a few focal points tends to make a bigger impact anyway.

Think about the couple. Are they athletes? Use balls as part of your center piece (and they can take them home with them). Nerds? How about lego centerpieces. If you stop thinking of what showers are like and start thinking about what the couple is like, you will throw a way more memorable party.

8. Use Reusable Party Supplies. Not Available? Go Compostable

If you can, use reusable forks, plates, and napkins. If the place you are having the party have them available, use them! You can have a dish washing after party (no seriously, leftover drinks and dish towels and chatting sounds perfectly fun to me). If you are having a more formal event in a space without reusable stuff, check with party suppliers nearby (or your caterer) so you can rent.

Your last option is to find compostable options for all the cutlery, plates and cups you need. In bulk, it is similarly priced to plastic, but it is WAY better for the Earth and it looks a lot less tacky.

Plastic looks like garbage, because it is garbage. If you want a party that looks good, you shouldn't use plastic.

Check this post for all of your party supply needs. Good stuff is out there, you just have to know where to look.

9. Get Thrifty

If you are looking for supplies or a platter, consider checking your local thrift shops. You can always find neat things there that might be the perfect fit for your party. People donate regularly to thrift stores, but don't always think of them as good options for shopping themselves. Walk through one and see if you feel inspired!

10. Choose a Green Favor

If you are going to do a favor (which really, you don't have to), do something that is zero waste. Maybe choose a plant or seeds for everyone to take home. At my shower, my amazing MOH made washcloths rolled up to be lollipops that people took home to use. Washcloths are actually useful! Start by thinking of usefulness. You can read lots of favor ideas on this post.

 If nothing else, just avoid those stinking cozies or some sort of lame treat wrapped in plastic. Other mistakes to avoid? Anything "personalized"- do I really want to carry a tote bag with a cute saying or the couple's wedding date on it? No. But if you make it a little more subtle, I will be all about it.

11. Donate your Leftovers, Recycle your Waste

The last thing you can do to make your party greener is to think about what you do with what's left. Leftover food can be donated to nearby shelters. Any food you can't donate can be composted to make soil instead of garbage, and if you got compostable plates or silverware, you can throw them in the same pot.

On the same end, if something is recyclable, recycle it. If paper or bags can be reused, save it. The less you have in those garbage cans at the end of the day, the more good you have done.

How to Throw an Eco-Friendly Bridal Shower or Wedding Shower

Have an amazing party! Your friends are so lucky that you are celebrating their present happiness and taking care of their future!

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  1. Awesome! there is a really cool craft store in my city that has unused invitations and cards for the cheap. Hope people are taking advantage of that.



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