By Chere Di Boscio
The words Fairtrade and wedding might not be used together often, but we’re here to change that!
Weddings are glorious occasions, and represent love, unity and new beginnings. However, like other celebrations (hello, Christmas!) they can have a detrimental impact on not only the environment, but the people behind the making of the products used for these events.
By taking some time to think about where you source each element of your wedding, you can help to make your wedding better for people and the planet.
Co-founder of ethical jewellery brand Ingle & Rhode, Tim Ingle, says: “Opting for Fairtrade products and services when you’re getting married is both easy and hugely beneficial. We’re talking a lot about sustainability at the moment, but the human element is hugely important too: whether or not workers are getting paid a fair wage, and working in safe conditions.
“It’s entirely possible to implement Fairtrade ethics into your wedding in a simple and straightforward manner, and we encourage people to do so. Fairtrade has a hugely positive impact on both individuals and communities, protecting workers’ rights, investing in business and community projects, and changing lives.”
Want to start your union off super-ethically? Here are some measures you can take to ensure you have a Fairtrade, ethical wedding that’s 100% free of human exploitation, and that’s better for the Earth as well.
7 Easy Steps To An Ethical Wedding
1. Buy ethical wedding rings
Your wedding ring is a symbol of endless, eternal love; so you want to ensure you’ve chosen the right one. After all, you’re going to be wearing and looking at it every day for the rest of your life.
The best option is going vintage: maybe exchanging your departed grandparent’s rings, or purchasing vintage rings from stores like I Do Now I Don’t.
Alternatively, searching for gold rings made to certified Fairtrade standards provides miners and communities with a better quality of life. Fairtrade gold, like that used by Ingle & Rhode (pictured below), ensures that the miners and those around them are paid a fair wage, and work and live in proper conditions.
Ask your jeweller where the metal is sourced, and ensure is has come from one of the 14 mines that are currently certified (all in Peru, in the Puno or Arequipa regions).
2. Wear an ethical wedding dress
You may have been dreaming about your ideal wedding dress since you were young. It can often feel like the most important decision of the whole wedding. No doubt you’ll be thinking about the style, fabric, colour and cost; but what about the social and environmental impact of the dress?
Fortunately, it’s now possible to purchase a wedding dress with Fairtrade certification! Fairtrade designers like Celia Grace and Sanyukta Shrestha can guarantee that your dress has an ethical past. With a wide range of options and price points, you’re sure to be able to find what you’re looking for, within your budget.
What could be better than walking down the aisle in a dress that was made in safe and empowering conditions? Whilst you’re at it, consider ethically made bridesmaids dresses, too, like those from Reformation.
Want more ethical wedding dress ideas? Check out the Kind Bride – they specialise in this type of thing, especially ethical, vegan friendly bridal gowns.
3. Drink Fairtrade and ethical wine
There are an ever increasing number of organic, vegan and Fairtrade wines on the market, so there really is no excuse for you to skip over this simple yet effective ethical wedding hack.
With a wine to suit every palate in most supermarkets, you should have no difficulty sourcing as many organic, vegan or Fairtrade bottles as you need, particularly if you’re buying in bulk.
For those of you who are not so keen on wine, don’t despair – there are plenty of ethical beers and spirits that are widely available, too. They might cost you a little bit more, but for good reason: the people who have produced them are getting paid a fair wage for their work!
4. Serve up ethical food
Most of the time, when we think of Fairtrade products we tend to think of food, so you’re probably well equipped to swap some ethical food alternatives into your wedding breakfast.
Particularly easy to source are things like Fairtrade chocolate – as well as being delicious, Fairtrade chocolate is easily found on supermarket shelves. You could also hand out Fairtrade chocolate products as a wedding favour if you’re looking for ideas. Your family and friends will be sure to snaffle it up at the bar, or take it home for later.
But ethical food isn’t just about Fairtrade food – frankly, it’s about organic and vegan food, too. After all, meat and dairy consumption is responsible for not only the horrendous suffering of innocent animals, but for massive rain forest destruction, too. Who wants their wedding to be part of that?
5. Decorate with ethical flowers
The ecological and ethical cost of flowers is surprisingly huge. Too huge to go into here, but you can learn more by clicking on this link. Suffice it to say that if you want an ethical wedding, Fairtrade flowers are a must.
There are over 50,000 flower workers working with Fairtrade to get a better deal for their work. Fairtrade flowers are always traceable back to the original farm, and the price labels will often tell you which farm this is. Fairtrade certified farms must ensure safe and fair working conditions for their employees, meaning less pesticide is used on the buds.
Alternatively, go for local wild flowers, or incorporate interesting foliage like rosemary sprigs or eucalyptus branches into your flower arrangements, be they decorative, or your actual bouquet!
6. Use cleaner beauty products
Today, our high streets and supermarkets are packed with clean beauty products that don’t use chemicals, test on animals, exploit humans, or contain animal ingredients.
From shower products to lotions, there’s always a great option to enjoy cleaner beauty products for you, your bridesmaids and even the groom throughout your big day. Small-scale farmers in over 50 countries produce ingredients such as coconut, Argan oil, apricot and Brazil nut oils for Fairtrade and ethically produced beauty products. This is more important than you may think: child and/or slave labour isn’t uncommon for sourcing many core ingredients in cosmetics. You can learn more about that here.
7. Donate to charities
Finally, rather than ending up with a whole load of household appliances and gadgets you’ll never really use after your wedding, why not ask your guests to make a donation of their choice to an organization that promotes a good cause?
As well as the Fairtrade Foundation itself, there are lots of smaller organizations and projects doing incredible work to support communities around the world. Some of our favourites? The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which helps save elephants, and Sweet Child Peru, which is the charity Eluxe donates to each year to help Peruvian children from Andean communities go to school and get better nutrition.