Balloons at weddings: Are they sustainable?

Let’s talk about balloons at weddings, more specifically about their lack of sustainability and the wasteful nature of them.  In short they are made of plastic, they are filled with either air or helium, used for a short time and eventually popped. They then go into landfill or the incinerator.

just married balloons

Balloons as single use wedding decor

Balloons at weddings are, more often than not, a single use decor item. Why? Because they are relatively cheap, you can use lots of them and create a big statement – for example balloon arches and table centerpieces. You could say, you get a lot of bang for your buck! The trouble is, they are made of plastic (which isn’t biodegradable), they can’t be recycled and they often use helium (a whole other issue, did you know there is a world helium shortage!?)

What’s the problem with helium balloons?

Helium is a naturally occurring resource, it mainly comes from mining underground gas pockets. When helium is used and released into the atmosphere it is light enough to escape the Earth’s gravitational field and so it escapes into space never to return again. It’s a finite natural resource and it’s fast running out. We get it. Beautiful, colourful balloons floating weightlessly in the air are magical. But did you know that those valuable helium reserves are  also needed for important medical equipment such as MRI scanners? Puts a different light on things doesn’t it?

What about biodegradable balloons or sustainable helium?

Of course, you can get biodegradable balloons and also you can get second-hand helium which is reused after it has been utilised in the medical profession however, the problem with biodegradable balloons is like anything, if it isn’t disposed of into the right conditions, it will not break down. Of course after any party, it is unlikely that someone will be going around picking up all the balloons to compost correctly.  As a result, they are no more sustainable than the non-biodegradable versions.

The biggest issue – balloon releases

Ultimately, the biggest issue, especially for helium filled balloons is once you let go of them they are off and up into the into the sky. We all know that what goes up must come down and unfortunately quite a lot of the time they come down either in fields or the ocean. In both cases this is a major problem.

Both animals and marine life get confused, they think that balloons are food: birds think they’re fish, large fish think they’re smaller fish and they eat them. When they eat them, the repercussions can be horrendous. The balloons fill their stomachs, expanding inside them and starving the animal in their own stomachs, eventually killing them in the most painful and dreadful way. All this, and we haven’t even mentioned how birds and wildlife can get tangled in the strings, so often attached to helium filled balloons. This is not uncommon – as the photos and video footage of every large sea mammal and bird washed up on our shores with untold amounts of plastic in their stomachs, will attest to. 

So should we be using balloons at weddings?

We don’t think so, no.  Similarly, things like Chinese lanterns are another single-use item that are released and can get caught in trees, risking causing a fire, but more often ending up somewhere that an animal or a bird will eat.

OK then, what is the alternative to balloons at weddings?

One of the best and most beautiful options to create a beautiful wedding backdrop, is of course flowers.  Of course balloons are a cheaper option for decor than flowers, if you want a big and bold display. But here at Green Manatee we firmly believe that less is more. A small, beautiful floral arrangement or a natural arch decorated with dried flowers or foliage or wildflowers collected yourself; creates a far more attractive display and a far more beautiful and environmentally friendly option.  

So, when you’re thinking about whether to have balloons at your wedding, please consider their impact on the environment after your wedding day is over. They are harmful in more ways than perhaps you realised. Don’t choose a single use item that has no ongoing life and has no clear and effective way of being recycled or breaking down afterwards. We’d much rather you choose a natural and sustainable alternative like locally grown flowers.

See Zoe talking about balloons at weddings on our YouTube channel here:

Eco Friendly Wedding Stationery: 5 ways to make your wedding invites and stationery more sustainable

If you’re planning an eco wedding you’re bound to be wondering how you can make your invites and stationery a little more sustainable. Obviously, things made from card and paper that are mostly single use aren’t the most eco friendly by their nature. Choosing digital or online invitations is a great way to be more eco friendly. But sometimes you just want a beautiful invite in an elegant envelope right? We get it, here at Green Manatee we are great believers in progress over perfection. So have a read of my 5 tips on how to make your wedding invites and stationery more sustainable.

1. Look for low minimum orders and only buy what you need

Simply avoiding waste is one of the biggest things any of us can do to help our planet. With things like wedding invites and stationery it is so tempting to over order, to round up to the nearest big number. A little careful planning and a good understanding of your actual numbers will go a long way to avoiding unnecessary over ordering and waste. Order as close to the actual numbers as you can. If you chose handmade wedding invitations and stationery you’ll find you have far more flexibility with the numbers than a more automated print process. The cost per invitation might be higher but the minimum quantity is likely to be lower.

2. Choose wedding invites and stationery made from recycled or tree free paper and card

Recycled paper card is far better for the environment than that made from virgin pulp or fibres. Less energy and water is consumed in the manufacturing process, and of course it’s reusing old paper and card that would otherwise end up in landfill (did you know that paper can be recycled 4 to 5 times?). This all adds up to more eco friendly wedding invites and stationery. There are also lots of tree free paper options on the market, with paper made from cotton rags, hemp, and all kinds of plant derivatives such as orange peel, grape stalks, olive stones and walnut shells.

3. Avoid the bows and blog that will make wedding invites and stationery hard to recycle.

I know, we’d love to think that all those lovingly created invitations and order of service booklets will be kept forever in the memory boxes of your nearest and dearest. The harsh truth is that sadly they won’t, and many will end up in the bin. Help reduce the environmental impact of this by choosing stationery that can be easily recycled, and actively encourage your guests to do so. Remember that matt, uncoated paper and card is widely recycled, often in your household collection. Many glossy, coated and glitter card can’t be recycled and will end up in landfill.

4. Keep your printed invitations as minimal as possible

It’s become increasingly popular, over recent years, to include lots of extra details in wedding invitations. Gift wishes, accommodation details, menus and reply cards are commonplace and they all use extra bits of card and paper. Think about whether you can put all those extra details onto a website instead and avoid the paper overload. Consider whether you actually need a reply card or whether a response by email or phone will do the job. And if you do decide that you need a printed reply card, what about a postcard instead of using an extra envelope. It really is a case of every little helps!

A top tip I give my couples is to set up a dedicated wedding email address for your guests to respond to. It will help to stop replies getting lost in your regular inbox, and you can even set up an autoresponder with all that extra guest info.

Personalised Woodland menu and place card: By Jo Wedding Stationery

5. Find clever ways to ‘double up’ on ceremony & reception stationery items

We all love a ‘buy one get one free’ don’t we? Well this is kind of the same thing. There will be some wedding stationery items that can be made to multi-task, reducing waste and probably a few pennies too. Here are my favourites:

  • If you are having wedding favours, have the tags printed with your guests names so you don’t need separate place cards
  • Have your order of ceremony printed onto compostable glassine bags and pop some biodegradable confetti inside
  • Three sided table number columns (or table Toblerones as I have affectionately called them) include the table name or number, menu and a thank you note or message from you all in one.
  • Really want to give each of your guests a menu? Make it into a beautiful bookmark complete with their name and a thank you message – voila, menu, place card and favour all in one!

These are just a few ways you can easily make your wedding invites and stationery more sustainable. If you have your heart set on printed invitations then choose recycled or tree free paper and card, minimise the extra insert cards and be mindful of how easily they can be recycled after. For your ceremony and reception stationery look for clever ways to double up, saving paper and pennies at the same time. Remember that every little helps. Many couples making small changes will have a big impact.

Jo created elegant wedding invites and stationery for eco conscious couples, you can see her designs on her website

Looking for more ways to make your wedding more sustainable, check out Kacey’s blogs:

What Do You Do With Your Wedding Dress after the Big Day? 5 Ways to Recycle Wedding Dresses

How to create less waste for your wedding

Biodegradable Confetti: 9 Ways To Use It at Your Wedding

There are so many different ways to use dried flower confetti and the best thing is, its 100% naturally biodegradable! You can make your own biodegradable confetti at home. There’s something quite magical about preparing your own confetti during the build-up to your special day!

Here are a few ideas how to use your biodegradable confetti…

Biodegradable Floral Invitations

Add a little bit of excitement for your guests by putting beautiful biodegradable flower petals in your invitations! However, I must say there’s no point adding a biodegradable element to them if the invitation itself is not eco-friendly! ByJo has some beautiful, eco-friendly options to choose from!

Biodegradable flower petal confetti surrounding two paper invitations
Image Credit: @karolinagrabowska

Floral Carpet

Turn your aisle into a biodegradable floral carpet! A perfect job for your flower girls or boys. This unique touch will add a splash of colour to the beautiful scene and it can make photos look enchanting!

Biodegradable confetti flower petals scattered on floor of wedding aisle
Image Credit:@xiaoyulifish

Biodegradable Confetti Cones

Biodegradable confetti cones can be made out of recycled paper or wrapped in the wedding day itinerary for your guests, two in one! To add a semimetal touch, you could wrap your biodegradable confetti in the lyrics to your first dance song so that the memory is treasured!  

Biodegradable confetti cones filled with dried flower petals
Image Credit: @thehkphotocompany

Throw It All Over The Newlyweds!

A tradition that has happened for centuries to bestow prosperity and fertility to the newlyweds! Sadly, the confetti ends up on the ground when everyone hurries off to enjoy the after party. Wouldn’t it be great knowing that your flower confetti will naturally biodegrade and leave no mark on the environment?

Image Credit: @chrisdickens

Biodegradable Glassine Bags

Please no organza! Biodegradable glassine bags are definitely the better choice, not only are they biodegradable, they can also be printed on! You could personalise them by printing a love heart, guest names or your wedding day date, making them great wedding favours. A Day To Remember Studio has a range of biodegradable confetti and prints to choose from to put on your glassine bags!

Biodegradable confetti glassine bags
Image Credit: @adaytorememberstudio

Biodegradable Table Runner

Sprinkle biodegradable flower petals to spruce up your tables! Some types of dried flowers such as roses, lavender and strawflowers can even add a floral fragrance to your venue!

Biodegradable confetti- rose petals shaped in a heart
Image Credit: @stellafiory

Eco-friendly Photo Prop

You can use dried flower petals as unique photo props by throwing them in the air just before capturing the shot! I can ensure you that the beautiful, biodegradable confetti will make any picture instagram-worthy!

Biodegradable confetti- pink and yellow flower petals thrown in air over wedding guests
Image Credit: dharmeshx

Biodegradable Confetti Poppers

Add a pop of fun to the after party! You can buy or make your own party poppers full of biodegradable confetti. If you choose to buy poppers, try to make sure that they are made with biodegradable material or that they can be re-used after your special day.

Biodegradable confetti popper being let off over newlyweds
Image Credit: @dvfrds

Biodegradable Flower Tattoos

A perfect wedding activity for adults and children! Using natural adhesives such as honey or beeswax salve with lavender oil, your biodegradable confetti can be re-used as natural flower tattoos. Hippie in Disguise tells you how to get the perfect result!

Biodegradable confetti - flower hand tattoos
Image Credit: @cottonbro

Using Zoë’s words… ‘there’s nothing like flowers at a wedding!’ why not use these ideas and choose biodegradable confetti?

If you haven’t already, take a look at Zoë’s vlog on confetti…

Other related blogs to have a look at:

Kacey x

Sustainable Lifestyle: How to Continue Living Sustainably after Your Eco-Friendly Wedding

You’ve had a sustainable wedding and may have encouraged your guests to think more sustainably which is great! But what else are you doing now? Using these ideas and tools, you can continue to be an eco-influencer…

Renewable Energy Providers

Picking the right energy provider can be a mission! By choosing renewable energy suppliers, not only are you contributing to a green, healthier environment but it can also be more cost efficient! Using websites such as Switchit to compare energy providers, finding or switching to a more sustainable supplier becomes easy.

Tool: Switchit, Green Square

Sustainable, renewable wind turbine in the countryside
Image Credit: Pixabay

Ethical Insurance

To live a sustainable lifestyle, decreasing your ethical footprint is just as important as your carbon footprint. Why wouldn’t you want to choose an insurance company that has the environment and people at its focus over one driven by profit alone? Using The Good Shopping Guide, you can compare how ethical your insurance is right now!

Tool: The Good Shopping Guide, Naturesave

Sustainable, ethical insurance symbolised by colourful umbrellas
Image Credit: adriannacalvo

Sustainable Search Engines

Until recently I was unaware of the amount of energy used in every internet search I made! By using sustainable search engines you will be decreasing your carbon and ethical footprint. The most sustainable search engine I have found is Ecosia, with every search a tree is planted!

Tool: Ecosia, Ocean Hero, Search Scene

globe painted hands with computer coding over it to represent sustainable search engines
Image Credit: tweetyspics

Litter Cleaning

When you go for your daily walk make a conscious effort to pick up any litter in your path, it really isn’t that much effort! Litter cleaning is now a social thing to do, many social media users are sharing their contribution to a cleaner, sustainable world on Instagram and Facebook! Why not join in on being an eco-influencer?

Tool: 2minutebeachclean, Surfers Against Sewage, Litterati

Image Credit: oceancleanupgroup

Sustainable Eating

When planning and shopping for food it’s important to think sustainably. Consider buying local produce and seasonal food, this choice will reduce your carbon footprint whilst supporting your local economy too (something that’s particularly important thanks to Covid!) Also, think about re-filling jars and food containers when shopping to reduce plastic waste. EcoRefill allows you to do this from the comfort of your own home!

Also, think about using digital apps to plan your meals such as Big Oven, this sustainable choice can even save you money and reduce your food waste! Even if cooking isn’t your forte, there are sustainable apps such as Too Good To Go that reduces food waste by selling surplus food from high quality businesses at a low cost!

Tool: Big Oven, Too Good To Go, Veganized, EcoRefill, Refill

Sustainable re-fill shop
Image Credit: dariashevtsova

Sustainable Clothing

Buying second-hand and supporting sustainable companies will reduce textile waste and contribute to a greener world! There are many apps and platforms to sell and purchase second-hand clothing, and even apps to inform you which clothing companies are sustainable. It’s never been easier to shop sustainably! For those who love to stand out from the crowd, there are some amazing and unique garments at a low cost on apps such as Depop and Vinted!

Tool: Good On You, Depop, Ebay, Vinted

Sustainable second-hand clothing rail
Image Credit: cottonbro


How great is it that all the waste you don’t want can be recycled and even help your lovely plants grow! Composting can decrease the amount of waste on landfills and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Even if you have limited garden space, you can still compost! There really are no excuses not to dispose waste sustainably!

Tool: Share Waste, Trash Hero

Sustainable compost soil being used for plants
Image Credit: cottonbro

Hopefully these tools will help you on your journey towards living sustainably. Let us know how you’re getting on in the comments below or tag @greenmanateeco in any Instagram pictures of you being an ‘eco-influencer!’

Other related blogs to have a look at:

Kacey x

What Do You Do With Your Wedding Dress after the Big Day? 5 Ways to Recycle Wedding Dresses

Let’s talk recycling dresses! The efforts of finding the perfect dress that you always imagined can be stressful. So, why would you want it to only be used for one day? Using these ideas for inspiration, not only will you be contributing to a greener world, but your most special memory will also live on.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed

1) Buy Recycled

Before you begin browsing over-priced, mass produced dresses, think about buying recycled wedding dresses. The sentimental value attached to the dress, combined with the vintage-chic look will make your day that little bit more special and unique. You could even modify it to suit you, obviously with approval!

Take a look in charity, vintage and second hand clothing sites such as Esty, Facebook Marketplace and eBay. You can still feel beautiful in a recycled dress! In fact, your recycled dress will be more likely to stand out as being unique, not to mention the price difference compared to first-hand bought. Leaving you with extra money to splash out on a glorious honeymoon!

Catwalk of Aria Bridal's sustainable wedding dresses
Image Credit: @ariabridal

It’s amazing to see that contemporary fashion designers such as Aria Bridal and Sister Organics are striving to reduce textile waste by using recycled, sustainable materials for wedding dresses. Consider exploring The Natural Wedding Company, it features recommended eco-friendly wedding dress companies. If standing out from the crowd is something you aspire, then this idea is definitely for you!

Re-cycle and Re-purpose

The wedding dress is known to be a single- use item, hundreds and sometimes thousands spent on it just for one day. This doesn’t have to be the case, especially if you are willing to get creative and upcycle!

2) Wedding Dress to Christening Gown

Both momentous occasions deserve a special outfit! Similarly, baby christening gowns are often a single-use item. It makes sense to re-cycle your special dress and not buy new again.

Recycled wedding dress christening gowns
Image Credit: @4466355

3) Recycle Wedding Dress into Party Wear

Consider taking elements from your dress and creating a new look for party or evening wear. You can recycle aspects of dresses such as the corset and lace detailing of the sleeves, ensuring that the magical memories experienced in your dress will carry on.

Image Credit: nate072107

4) Wedding Dress Bouquet

Think about recycling dresses into a bouquet, instead of flowers. Beckiadamsart can help this vision come to life! This creative swap can potentially reduce your carbon footprint as many exotic flowers are imported for wedding arrangements and bouquets. Also, leaving the environment in its natural state and reducing waste. Holding onto a loved one’s dress as you walk down the aisle can make your moment more intimate and personal.

Recycled fabric shaped like roses
Image Credit: @ethanbodnar

5) Recycle Wedding Dress into Accessories

There are so many different ways to recycle your dress after the big day to suit all tastes. Exploring ideas online and Pinterest such as recycled tote bags, cushions, memory bears and head pieces just shows that the ideas are limitless! Tote bags have become a contemporary sustainable fashion staple, many using them in everyday life. There’s something quite special about having a part of your special day everywhere you go.

Recycled wedding dress cushion
Image Credit: uruguay2018

I’m sure there are many more ways your special dress can be recycled, feel free to share some ideas below!

Kacey x

Fair Trade Wedding Favours

Fairtrade Fortnight (22nd February – 7th March) celebrates local sustainability and fair working conditions for the people who make the things we love. Reflecting on the words of Mother Teresa, ‘It’s not about how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.’ Could this be the real meaning of wedding favours? Giving love to your loved ones, whilst supporting Fair Trade and sustainability.

If these are values that mean something to you too, why not ‘Fair Trade up’ your favours with these creative and quirky ideas…

A bag full of seeds

When it comes to wedding favours, small gift bags are often the go to. It’s important that the materials used are sustainable and created under fair trade terms. The Fairtrade Store provides gift bags that would be brilliant for putting seeds in for your guests to watch bloom after the big day.

selective focus photography of Hollyhock cards
Image Credit: @micheile

A bee bomb or seedball

Since we’re on the subject of seeds, bee bombs and seedballs are perfect for nature lovers! And more importantly, if all your guests sprinkle these seeds many bees will be saved! To ensure that the bee bombs are packaged in eco-friendly materials, Amnesty shop and Ethical Super Store are just some of the shops to look at.

A taste of Fair Trade chocolate

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Whilst putting a smile on your guests faces, Fair Trade chocolate gives the workers the appreciation they deserve (and may I add, it tastes amazing!) Divine has heart shaped chocolate that is perfect for wedding favours. Also, the Ethical super store has more Fair Trade brands such as Enjoy and Cocoa Loco that are just as fabulous!

Image credit: @divine

A little bit of fun!

Bamboo flutes & finger puppets are the perfect way to add some fun to your special day, and especially good for keeping your young guests entertained! Take a look at some of the wonderful fair trade bamboo flutes and finger puppets on the One World Shop website.

Image credit: @oneworldshop

A personalised pebble

Not only can these pebbles be used as favours, but they also look great as place names! Whilst reducing the number of wedding items that may end up in waste and supporting the workers who made them. Shared Earth has some beautifully designed Fair Trade pebbles to choose from.

Image credit: @sharedearth

A handpainted fan

This idea is perfect for summer weddings or to cool down after all the dancing! Not only is it a useful favour, but it also supports fair trade and local sustainability! One World Shop is just one Fair Trade shop that has many hand painted fans to choose from.

Image credit: @oneworldshop

A handmade notebook

Handmade paper notebooks can be used as great wedding favours, you can write a personalised message inside that can be treasured forever. Namaste have some beautifully designed small, Fair Trade notebooks to explore.

Image credit: @namaste

Happy dreams

Shared Earth sells small dream catchers that would be perfectly suited for a bohemian style wedding. There’s something lovely about wishing all of your loved one’s happy dreams!

Dream Catcher, Culture, Indian, Dream, Sun, Tradition
Image credit: @orangefox

Enjoy your special day knowing you’ve chosen Fair Trade!

Kacey x

Gifts for an Eco-friendly Valentine’s

It can be difficult to think of gift ideas to express your love for someone, here are just a few suggestions that will also show your love for our planet.

Love is…

Saying it with words

Consider sending E-cards, plantable cards or photo cards from sites such as Moonpig, Funky Pigeon & Thortful. During the current situation we are in, some of us may be unable to spend valentine’s day with our loved one. If this is the case, E-cards are definitely the way to go! Plantable cards are also great for Valentine’s day, a card and flowers in one! If these options aren’t suited to your loved one, sending a personalised photo card can also be sustainable if its treasured and displayed.

Credit: @anniespratt

A home cooked meal

Cook your loved one’s favourite meal, food is the key to anyone’s heart! You don’t need a gift to show love, a memory can be kept forever. To make this idea even more eco-friendly, consider creating a delicious vegan or vegetarian meal. You can find many recipes and inspiration on Meatless Farm , Jamie Oliver and Olive magazine.

Meatless Farm sausage pie in heart-shaped pastry
Credit: Meatless Farm

Flowers & plants

Buy locally sourced flowers from eco-friendly florists and check which flowers are in season using sites such as Triangle Nursery. Choosing seasonal will prevent exotic flowers being imported and decrease carbon emissions. Alternatively, buy succulent plants such as cacti that are easy maintenance and last longer than your average shop bought roses.

Three Potted Cactus Plants
Credit: @scottwebb

A candle glow

A beeswax or soy wax candle can be used as a gift or for a romantic candle lit dinner. During the current climate, if you are unable to spend valentines with your loved one, Etsy has a range of eco-friendly candle valentines packages that can be delivered to their door.

Red Heart Shaped Candles
Credit: @lucianpotlog


Chocolate is the go-to Valentines present, it is important that the chocolate you choose is ethically produced. Divine is a delicious Fairtrade chocolate brand with many flavours to choose from and a vegan range suitable for any taste.  

Credit: Divine

Plantable confetti

Biodegradable glitter and confetti are good alternatives to create a romantic scene but are they essential? If they are, consider using plantable heart shaped paper confetti or dried flowers. Watching them blossom into beautiful wildflowers is much more pleasurable than having to try sweep up the glitter off the floor!

Bright pink heart shaped cutouts on pink background
Credit: @karolinagrabowska

An acre of rainforest!

Sounds impressive right? World Land Trust offers you the opportunity to your loved one an acre of rainforest for a minimum of £25! It is also accompanied with a ‘beautifully designed gift pack.’ If your valentine is eco-conscious, spending a little bit more is worth it!

Aerial Photography of Green-leafed Trees

This Valentine’s, why not use the day to show love to a special person and planet earth.

Kacey x

How to create less waste for your wedding

It’s your big day! You have a million and one details to think about from the flowers, food and favours. Use these simple FEELGOOD ideas to eliminate the stress of the waste you leave behind, whilst making your day extra special and unique on a budget! Leaving a mark in people’s memories, not the earth.

Flowers for now

  • Use local, sustainable florists and seasonal flowers. It will prevent exotic flowers being imported, reducing carbon emissions and will be fresher too! Afterwards, consider donating your flowers to companies such as Repeat Roses that will continue spreading the love to those who need it in hospices and hospitals.
  • Dried petals or seeds can look fabulous as confetti, as well as being earth-friendly!
Green Manatee - How to create less waste for your wedding seasonal flowers
Credit: @dragonflyave

Eco invitations

  • Consider creating and sending invitations digitally (we all know they end up in the bin anyways!) But, if you would prefer printed invitations, think about using recycled or ‘plantable’ paper. There’s something special about your guests planting and watching their invitations blossom whilst you head off on honeymoon!
Green Manatee how to create less waste for your wedding Seed paper stationery from Hannah Marchant

Eco-friendly gifts & glitter

  • Biodegradable glitter pots can be used as great favours or sprinkled across tables to
    add some sparkle to your evening party!
  • Specifically ask guests for eco-friendly gifts such as house plants, beeswax candles
    or recycled glasses. Although, if there is nothing in particular you would like, you could consider asking for donations to earth-friendly charities instead.
Green Manatee how to create less waste for your wedding plants in cups as wedding favours
Credit: @stephanieharvey

Local suppliers

  • Support local, independent businesses that source products from local suppliers. It will reduce carbon emissions, whilst contributing to your local economy. Shopping local will also mean that flowers and food will be season-dependent but taste and look fresher too! Also, shopping produce in season is more cost-effective. It’s a win, win situation.
Green Manatee how to create less waste for your wedding locally sourced food
Credit: @sebastiancoman

Get creative!

  • Pick up driftwood, pebbles, leaves, and any materials found on beaches and woodland walks to create unique table decorations. It’s surprising what a bit of (eco!) paint can do! You can also find some quirky bits and bobs in charity shops that can be spruced up to suit your desired theme.
Green Manatee how to create less waste for your wedding @ktheyfunky handmade jewellery
Credit: @ktheyfunky

Old to New

  • You can find some hidden gems in charity and vintage shops! There are some incredible designer wedding dresses out there and you can guarantee that fewer people will have the same mass-produced outfit as you and it reduces textile waste. Also, this option can be cost-effective for those with smaller budgets.
    There may even be money left over to personalise it and make it completely unique.
Green Manatee how to create less waste for your wedding preloved wedding dresses

Don’t buy everything!

  • Do you really have to buy everything? There are so many high-quality items that are available to hire from suits, dresses, tableware and decorations and what’s more, you are invariably supporting a small local independent supplier which particularly in the current climate, is guaranteed to be very much appreciated.

Make your wedding a day to feel good and do good!

Kacey x

Green Manatee how to create less waste for your wedding #feelgooddogood

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Why You Should Never Hug a Manatee

“Why would you even consider it?” I hear you ask and what’s more, “What on earth does it have to do with a wedding business? Even a green, eco-friendly favours and sustainable wedding gift business?”

I love manatees! And when Jo and I set up our sustainable wedding favours and eco gift company, Green Manatee (‘cos we have to be honest ‘Never Hug a Manatee’ is a right mouthful for any company to call itself!), this was the one animal which gently lumbered out, for us both.  From the outset, we were both sold and the more we discovered about them, the more we agreed that they were the perfect choice to be our brand icon – Manatees are closely related to elephants (although they are often known as sea cows).  They are gentle, pondering, slow-moving herbivores who can live in both salt and fresh water, but never go on land.  They have large flippers, rounded heads and flat tails which propel them along, they are often covered in algae (hence the ‘green’) and are incredibly sensitive and curious – particularly of people and boats, which definitely gets them into trouble! 

Despite their unusual appearance, they are the stuff of legend… sailors of bygone years told stories of the mermaids they sighted on their travels and many believe that these were infact manatees, with their mermaid-like tails and flippers that looked like stubby arms.  Whilst they’re not exactly known for their ravishing beauty, don’t forget that these poor blokes had been away at sea for months, maybe years at a time and didn’t get to see much in the way of females.  I can only assume the rum played a part too! (For the record, I don’t think any sailor actually managed to hug a manatee or was dissuaded from doing so!)

Green Manatee | Never Hug a Manatee | About Us | Eco wedding favours and gift online shop
Credit: The Yucatan Times

Manatees can be found in the Amazon, Africa, The West Indies and Florida and due to their curious nature, they tend to swim too close to boats and often, devastatingly get killed by speedboats (a particular problem in Florida where they are often discovered by holidaymakers around busy beaches). 

As a result, manatees were highlighted as endangered and at risk and laws came into effect to protect them and prevent humans from coming into close contact with them.  The more accustomed to humans they become, the more likely they are to suffer harm caused by stress and injury or death when moving too slowly through the water in the face of fast moving boats and so according to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, it is illegal to molest, harass, disturb or hug a manatee!

This act is incredibly creating an about-turn in the numbers of manatees in Florida, which are effectively been brought back from the brink of extinction.

“So how does this relate to Green Manatee? What do these tropical sea cows have to do with ethical favours, sustainable wedding gifts, or zero waste shopping?” I hear you beg (most likely losing the will to live at this point…).

If you’ve read our Hi! We’re Green Manatee blog post, you’ll have seen how being a part of the undeniably wasteful wedding industry has been sitting very heavily on both Jo and I for a number of years and our individual personal panics as to how the future of our planet will look for our children, their children and so on, has made us both, independently think that the whole thing is a pointless and unwinnable venture.

Yet… with some help, focus, attention, care and love by a group of dedicated people, the manatee has been saved and incredibly will continue to thrive for years to come.

And if the manatee can do it, maybe, just maybe there’s hope for the rest of us?

Maybe we can actually make it after all! Zoë x

We’re busy sourcing fabulous, sustainable goodies for our new shop. We’d love to have you along for the journey. Sign up for updates and to be the first to know when we launch.

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Are you a UK business or maker with something wonderful that we could stock? If you do, and you share our commitment to preserving the planet, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

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Hi! We’re Green Manatee

…and we are a sustainable and eco-friendly online shop selling wedding favours & wedding gifts. We’re based in Cardiff, in sunny (err, often rainy!) South Wales!

Green Manatee was formed by us – Jo Shaddick and Zoë Binning.

Jo lives near Cardiff and is the owner of ByJo a company creating gorgeous eco-friendly, sustainable and handmade stationery.  She’s passionate about paper, perfection and the planet and when she’s not designing stunning wedding stationery, she can often be found with her husband and teenage daughters touring the Welsh coastline in her campervan, swimming and drinking rum (errr not all at the same time!)

As a family who enjoy spending time in the outdoors, particularly near the sea, you’ll often find them cleaning beaches or litter picking closer to home. They’ve been working hard over the last few years to avoid as much packaging as possible (particularly plastic) in the weekly shop. Jo will readily admit that a trip to the local fruit & veg stall or zero waste shop can be the highlight of her week (after creating a detailed meal plan to ensure that there is no waste!). Her husband is slightly less excited by her ever growing collection of glass jars that can’t be recycled ‘because they might be useful one day’.

Zoë is also from Cardiff and after growing up over the bridge in Brizzle, hot-footed it back to Wales to start a family and myriad businesses.  She has a background in retail design and wedding planning, is a wedding expert; often appearing on BBC Radio Wales; creator of the wedding planning podcast  The Icing on the Cake  and a wedding venue consultant.  She is also the co-owner of Wild Roots Kitchen & Bar an ethical and sustainable wedding & event catering company.  She lives with her little family on the edge of the Rhondda Valley and can either be found swinging kettlebells, digging in her allotment (with varying levels of success), sitting in her hammock with a gin or park-running with the family and their loony overgrown puppy, Loki. The whole family is determined to reduce their carbon footprint and despite a massive love of cheese, they bit the bullet in 2019, became vegan and are forever experimenting with weird and wonderful new recipes!

Together we are determined to change the way that British couples think about and plan for their weddings!

Over the years, we have both had that nasty knotty feeling in our stomachs every time we see the amount of disposable ‘tat’ brought into every wedding and thrown out at the end.  Most of it is poor quality and breaks before its even made it through the day (don’t even get us started on garden games!) and the huge amount of glitter, single-use plastic and waste just puts our teeth on edge and has put us both in a moral quandary.  We love the UK wedding industry, but how can we reconcile our own personal journeys to reduce single-use plastic and become more ethical and sustainable in our own shopping decisions, when we advocate for an industry that day in, day out does the complete opposite?

After discussing this together on a number of occasions, we knew that it wasn’t enough to no longer think it was acceptable, we had to do something about it!  No-one else seemed to be, so clearly it was going to be down to us.  Never gals to turn down a challenge, we got started thinking about ways to provide ethical and sustainable shopping solutions for UK couples who are planning their weddings and seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and make greener choices BUT not compromise on quality, style or design.  After all, everyone still wants their wedding to be beautiful, stand out from the crowd and be an incredibly special day – and not everyone wants to do that with lots of brown paper and twine.

We wanted to call our wedding gift company Never Hug a Manatee (for the reasons for that one, pop over to our other blog post on the subject!) but we realised that was one hell of a mouthful and so Green Manatee was officially born!

We can’t wait to share this exciting journey with you all and promise to keep you up to date with all of our decisions, ideas, thoughts, mistakes (we’re definitely going to make some of those!) and successes (hopefully we’ll have lots more of these!) along the way.

Lots of love & huge green manatee hugs

Jo & Zoë x

We’re busy sourcing fabulous, sustainable goodies for our new shop. We’d love to have you along for the journey. Sign up for updates and to be the first to know when we launch.

Success! You're on the list.

Are you a UK business or maker with something wonderful that we could stock? If you do, and you share our commitment to preserving the planet, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

Follow our journey on our social platforms.