Ethical weddingsEthical Business News & Features
This article first appeared in our winter ’19 issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, The Love Revolution, distributed with the Guardian on 22 February 2018. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Weddings can cost the Earth – and not just in monetary terms. On top of the food waste and carbon footprint of guests’ journeys, an average UK wedding generates around 18kg of waste plastic.
If we cleaned up the whole sector, from the fake confetti and throwaway décor to the single-use gift bags and tableware, we’d eliminate 4,000 tonnes – the weight of 30 houses – of plastic waste every single year.
The demand for ethical weddings is on the rise: two-fifths of couples now consider sustainability when planning their big day and both last year’s royal weddings had an environmental focus. But while the ‘Blue Planet effect’ has kickstarted positive change across a range of sectors, the mainstream wedding industry is still struggling to satisfy the appetite for ethical and sustainable alternatives.
The millennial effect
While conducting general market research around eco-friendly stationery, Kayleigh Sinclair was shocked to discover how wasteful the UK’s £10bn wedding industry is. ‘It just isn’t catering to the needs of the next generation’s weddings’, she tells us.
Millennials care about how and where their products are sourced, and a recent study revealed they are more likely than other generations to consider ethical sourcing when choosing an engagement ring.
‘It’s no secret that us millennials are responsible for killing everything – the diamond industry, napkins, cereals – so it goes without saying that we’re killing the wedding industry, too’, Kayleigh says. ‘We believe Gen Z will follow suit with this growing consumer segment; they’re educated, savvy and expect efficiency, personalisation and transparency with any transaction.’
Identifying a gap in the market, Kayleigh launched Sinclair & Saffron in February 2019. Finally, this start-up has made it possible for brides- and grooms-to-be to source a comprehensive range of affordable and sustainable wedding products from one place.
Budgets and ethics
‘A wedding day should be tailored to the couple’s passions and personalities, it shouldn’t be a commercial event’, Kayleigh says. ‘For this reason we only work with small, handpicked ethical suppliers who share our ethos. Everything we design, create and stock is ethical, responsibly sourced and as close to minimum waste as possible. It’s all under one roof, making it easier for couples to shop and create an ethical wedding with minimal stress.’
Princess Eugenie’s plastic-free wedding was thought to cost over £2m, but an ethical wedding doesn’t require a massive budget. In fact, by sourcing local food, seasonal flowers and vintage or upcycled decorations, you can reduce the cost of your day.
Small changes like using recycled paper, switching floral foam for potted plants or loose flowers and picking an ethical ring (see opposite page) can also make a big difference in environmental terms.
Balloons and lanterns are something that every ethical wedding day can do without; the candles can spark wildfires and animals can get entangled in their wire frames, which land all over the countryside.
A bespoke day
There are lots of eco-friendly wedding brands out there, but Sinclair & Saffron is the first to offer a full package. ‘We want to make it as easy as possible for couples to make their day as low impact as possible, while making sure they get the wedding of their dreams’, Kayleigh tells us.
Sinclair & Saffron has a wealth of suppliers that provide everything from handmade wedding dresses to sustainable, intimate wedding venues that offer the perfect setting for your day. Kayleigh has also decided to partner with Sussex Wildlife Trust, which protects the wonderfully rich natural life that is found across our towns, countryside and coast.
Kayleigh identified a huge gap in the market at a time when the environmental importance of making conscious decisions is growing more urgent by the day. ‘Now is not the time to sit back and let others act’, Kayleigh tells us. ‘I think right now if you have an idea that you think you could positively benefit others or the environment, you should grab it with both hands and run with it.’ That’s exactly what Kayleigh has done: she’s seen a way to create positive change in the wedding industry – and she’s going for it, with all bouquets blazing.
From the wedding dress and the venue to the photographer and rings, here are just some of the services and suppliers Sinclair & Saffron can offer for your big day
BIJOUX DE CHAGALL
Quality time is spent on every detail of each piece of Bijoux De Chagall jewellery; the natural lines of the gemstones often create their own art, meaning the result is unpredictable and unique. The natural precious and semi-precious stones are selected from original sources or reputable and trusted international suppliers.
Bijoux De Chagall also uses lab-created gemstones, as these stones are very special and quite valuable as real gemstones. They also have a lower impact on the ecology of our planet and are definitely conflict free!
London-based Seni Dey designs pure, feminine wedding dresses for modern brides. To ensure good working conditions and fair wages, all Seni Dey clothes are produced in a company-owned atelier in Portugal. The working conditions are monitored and transport routes are short, which reduces the environmental impact of the finished dress. Seni Dey’s made-to-order business model means only the necessary resources are used, so minimal waste is produced.
Beckett’s is a small batch London dry gin; it’s distilled and bottled in London, and made with English juniper berries handpicked from Box Hill in Surrey. In return for permission to pick the juniper, Beckett’s is undertaking a long-term conservation project – in partnership with the National Trust, Forest Research and Natural England – to help save juniper from extinction in England. The gin is crisp and refreshing, with an exquisite taste and a delightfully long, smooth finish.
GRACE ELIZABETH PHOTOGRAPHY
Grace Elizabeth has committed to being as Earth-friendly as possible; she’s vegan, ethical in her purchases and has a lifestyle that is ‘as low waste as possible’. It came naturally to Grace to extend these beliefs to her business as a photographer.
Many couples choose Grace not just for her skills as a photographer, but often also for her beliefs and outlook when it comes to looking after our planet. She knows that many of her clients are like her, so her eco-friendly morals and dedication to building a sustainable business are both likely to be of equal importance to couples who choose her. ‘It’s always so wonderful to hear from and to work with people who love Mother Earth as much as I do!’, she says.
Nestled in the middle of a national park near Newport, with views over some of Pembrokeshire’s most breathtaking scenery, Nantwen is a beautiful, intimate wedding venue in a private location.
Whether you’re planning a runaway wedding or an intimate celebration, Nantwen will provide the backdrop for a day you’ll never forget. Few small wedding venues in Wales can offer couples the option of an eco-friendly wedding, but with Nantwen it comes as standard. The buildings are environmentally friendly without compromising on comfort or mod cons. In recognition of its eco credentials, Nantwen has received a Gold Award from Green Tourism, the world’s largest and most established sustainable tourism certification programme.
Artisan and sustainable businesses interested in selling with Sinclair & Saffron should contact supplier@sinclairandsaffron