What Is Carbon Offsetting and Why Does It Matter to Your Wedding?

bride and groom riding a bike

Image source: manolobrides.com

You’ve seen the phrases carbon footprint and carbon offsetting mentioned on the Green Bride Guide, but you may still be a bit confused about what this term means, how it affects the environment, and how you can decrease your own carbon footprint at your wedding.
 
Let’s start by defining these terms. We won’t get too technical but just remember what you learned about greenhouse gases in science class.
 
Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted due to your consumption of fossil fuels. So the carbon footprint of your wedding would include any travel, items shipped, and the carbon footprint of the vendors that you hire for your big day. Your wedding’s carbon footprint extends to any leftover items that end up in landfills such as Save the Dates, invitations, food, and flowers to name a few.
 
Carbon offsetting plays a large part in the overall approach to carbon management. According to the Carbon Neutral Company, carbon offsets are “credits for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions made at another location, such as wind farms which create renewable energy and reduce the need for fossil-fuel powered energy.”

So what does this mean for your green wedding? As you’re planning your wedding, make sure your special day is as eco-friendly as possible.

outdoor wedding ceremony to reduce carbon footprint

Image source: Ifong Chen Photography

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • The carbon footprint of your wedding starts from the day you say “I do”. For example, you can reduce your wedding’s overall carbon footprint by reducing your computer’s carbon footprint.
  • Pick a wedding location that is central for the majority of the wedding guests. This will cut back on the carbon footprint significantly since it will mean less people traveling to and from your wedding.
  • Hire an eco-friendly wedding planner. You will be asking your potential wedding planner a lot of questions before you make your decision to hire them - make sure this is one of the first questions you ask.
  • Consider getting married during daylight hours to avoid extra lighting that will add to  your  footprint. If you must, use LED lights or candles to reduce your electricity usage.
  • Plan your post wedding clean-up so everything (or close to everything) will be recycled.
  • Choose an eco-friendly engagement ring.
carbon calculator
Image source: Carmic Green

Your wedding won’t be 100% carbon neutral and will leave behind a carbon footprint. This is where carbon offset credits come into play. You can calculate your carbon footprint and buy credits for GHG reductions at another location through a certified program.

Use the carbon calculator on our site to determine the credits that you will need after your wedding.