Created in partnership with our friends at Boxed Water Is Better®.
All eyes are on plastic right now and the devastating effects it’s having on the environment – from vast quantities of pollution to loss of wildlife – the solution seems impossible to reach at the individual level. We’ve been mulling over ways how one person, one company or one brand can, in fact, effect that change at scale. We recently took a closer look at hospitality brands that are drastically cutting their plastic use by stocking Boxed Water Is Better® over single-use plastic water bottles and the thousands upon thousands of plastic bottles they are eliminating from landfills and ultimately, our oceans. Today, we’re diving into another simple way to effect change at scale: producing sustainable events. Whether you’re getting married, hosting a corporate party or planning a reunion, events of any size (from ten to one thousand guests) can make serious progress towards sustainability with a few conscious choices. The first step is ditching the mass-produced flats of plastic water bottles in favor of Boxed Water: sustainable and recyclable water in box (read: no plastic bottles strewn about the ground at the end of the party).
We recently linked up with event photographer and plastic-free event champion, Corey Tucker to learn more about her sustainable events and got her top tips about the environmentally-friendly choices you can make for your own event, like hiring a rental company to bring reusable serveware and drinkware (bonus: it will look way, way better than single-use options), sourcing paper goods and decor from sustainably minded companies, and, of course, setting up a water station stocked with Boxed Water for grab-and-go party sustenance. Read on for her tips and input, and stay tuned at the end to learn how you can get free gear for giving up plastic bottles with Boxed Water's No-Plastic Pledge.
Tell us a little about you and the sustainable events you host.
I am a passionate, Connecticut-based destination wedding + elopement photographer who sees beauty in my couples’ love. I love to travel and experience new cultures and learn more about the world.
Besides having an adventurous heart, I believe we can all make a difference in the world. Weddings can be very wasteful and by reducing the amount of plastic at weddings, we can make significant progress. I created #plasticfreeweddings as a way to encourage couples to seek alternatives to plastic on their wedding day. I also created a guide that offers alternatives to plastic on their wedding day. While their wedding won’t be 100% #plasticfree, it’s progress, not perfection that will add up over time.
What drove you to produce sustainable events? What was the journey like?
Plastic pollution has always had an impact on me. If there’s one thing I feel like I can have an impact on, it’s limiting my consumption and using my voice to raise awareness. I get emotional seeing so much litter and plastic waste that eventually lands in our oceans.
Last July I joined the #plasticfreejuly challenge and that’s when it hit me to offer my couples #plasticfreeweddings since weddings go through large amounts of plastic in a very short amount of time. It only made sense to start thinking differently and offering suggestions and alternatives for my couples, caterers and venues when holding events.
Why is the work you're doing more important than ever?
On average, weddings I photograph range from 60-180 guests. Imagine each guest using a new plastic cup or water bottle every time they have a drink and how much that would add up to. Most event guests don’t use the same cup again – they get a new one – and have several drinks at a wedding. That’s just cups. Now think about flatware, straws and stirs. Picture that single-use plastic waste in a pile. Then imagine that waste in the ocean because eventually, that’s where plastic ends up.
Plastic takes over 600 years to break down. The statistics are endless and frankly overwhelming. That’s why I have to start somewhere. It’s not about recycling, that doesn’t end the problem. We have to think differently in how we package our products or produce items.
What are your favorite ways to incorporate sustainable practices into events?
I’ve been supporting my local friend who creates beautiful plantable paper. She creates my business cards, thank you cards, wedding invitations, menus, place cards and so much more. I have a wonderful community of eco-friendly vendors that I share with my couples. Rentals are a wonderful option for flatware, linens, tables, chairs, lighting, tents, etc. If you are having a smaller DIY wedding, you can visit antique stores, Goodwill, estate sales, and so much more to collect items for an intimate wedding.
What are your favorite sustainable brands to partner with and support for events?
Having Boxed Water is the perfect grab and go hydration station for events. Not only does it taste great, the packaging is the best design I’ve seen anywhere! I also love Karmic Seed, they recycle fallen palm leaves and make them into plates and bowls. They also have wheat straws as an alternative to paper straws. I love supporting my local artists at Stoneware Alchemy that make beautiful stoneware drinking mugs, vases and more. Whole Weddings is my go to for designing plantable paper wedding invitations, menus, place cards, etc. She has even designed cloth napkins guests can take home with them. Supporting your local community, businesses and artists comes first before I go shopping on Amazon.
What is the response from your attendees to sustainable details?
When couples meet with me to book their wedding, they are pleasantly surprised that nobody thought of this sooner. They are happy to jump on board and learn how they can reduce the impact of plastic waste. I am thrilled that I have almost 20 plastic-free weddings booked in 2019 and 11 so far in 2020! What’s interesting is that wedding vendors are referring to me as, “oh you are the #plasticfreeweddingphotographer.” I get a chuckle and know that I am making an impact. It’s an opportunity to have a conversation and learn how I can help my wedding vendors think differently. My goal is to have a more sustainable planet, a #betterplanet as Boxed Water says. Anything I can do to help is alright with me.
Ready to take an easy first step and give up plastic bottles? Even for 30 days? Boxed Water is giving free kits and a sweet deal when you sign up to take their No-Plastic Pledge. 30 days. Zero plastic bottles. Get started today →