Help Us! What's the Greenest Way To Serve Wedding Food?

Help Us! What's the Greenest Way To Serve Wedding Food?

Amber Byfield
Sep 23, 2010

In a few short weeks, my fiance and I will be welcoming a large number of guests to our wedding. Well, it's high time we decided how to serve food to our guests, and we're having trouble finding a happy place between eco-friendly and budget-friendly. Which is why we need your help.

Before we present all the options, we know that buying more than 100 reusable glass plates and flatware to go with it is likely the greenest option, especially if we shopped vintage. But hear us out: the budget is set, and it's a tight one, and we are already asking friends and family to pitch in to help clean up after the party (meaning adding the additional task of collecting and washing dishes doesn't sound too appealing).

So we're trying to find a happy medium. That's where you come in. Help us choose the best option: one that pleases both the eco-friendly and the budget-friendly.

Option 1: Reusable plates. See above. Potentially, we could do a mad rush and collect 100 plates (or more) at thrift shops, wash them, and get them ready for the party in 3 weeks. Not our favorite option, but it could be plausible. Throw in the fact that there's potential to resell plates on Craigslist following the wedding, and it sounds pretty dang good. Except for the washing-after-the-party part.

Option 2: We can hardly entertain the idea without gagging a little, but will throw it out there anyway: plastics. The green upside? They can be recycled. The green downside? Oh, the petroleum... among other things. Plastics are cheap, though, so that's why they've even made an appearance on the list. Refer to "tiny budget" above.

Option 3: Compostable plates, cups, and cutlery made from cane sugar fibers or corn. Initially we thought this would be our first choice, and while it's more eco than plastic, the items are only "compostable" in the right conditions (meaning, it's a little bit pointless to have them end up in a landfill). Composting is not available on-site, and we'd have to encourage guests to remove meat products before tossing their plates into the composting area, so it might be one of those "all for naught" situations. Or are we totally off? We also have heard from folks who've used these that they don't compost too readily in the average backyard bin.

Option 4: Renting. File this one under environmentally friendly, but far too expensive.

You can probably tell that we'd prefer to buy reusable plates with the intention to sell after the wedding (and have pretty much talked ourselves into that being the greenest option), but it may not be feasible, having waited this long to come up with that marvelous green idea.

What's our second-best green option? Or, is there an option we've left out (aside from asking guests to bring their own dishes!)?

Related Links:
How Owning 160 White Plates Has Saved Us Money
Good Question: Green Wedding Favors?
Couple Pays for Wedding by Recycling Cans

(Image: Robert S. Donovan licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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