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How to Achieve an Ethical Celebration

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Anna Maggs provides helpful tips for throwing an ethical celebration which truly highlights the beauty of simplicity.

Is it me or have celebrations got bigger, more expensive and less ethical over the years? People fly flowers in from all over the world, spend hundreds if not thousands on outfits that will be worn for a few hours and food waste is often not given a second thought. I got married last year and vowed, not only ‘til death us do part’, but to keep the celebration as ethical, simple and true to us as possible. We were quite happy not to get swept up in wedding fever and enjoyed having a small, family celebration rather than a marque, carriage or eye watering bill. Here are a few tips we learnt along the way that can largely be applied to any celebration…


At the end of the day most parties are only for a day. Have a chat to friends and family and see what they’ve got in the garage or attic that could be useful. A colleague of mine had got married a couple of years before and we were the third event to make use of jam jars and log centre pieces. It didn’t cost a penny and she was thrilled to get things out of storage for another airing!


Second hand decorations

Keep it natural

Can you make use of natural resources at your fingertips? Head to your local woods or even your garden and see what’s freely available during the season of your celebration. We tied luggage labels to pine cones as place settings for example. A dried lavender/rosemary tied with string would also work well. What about draping ivy around candles for a wintery centre-piece? Consider what is recyclable or going to leave litter. Rather than having papery or plastic confetti we bought dried petals, meaning there was no rubbish left on the street. Pretty paper napkins were bought cheaply and can be recycled easily too.


Decorations that can be found outside 

Hire or buy second hand

Will you really where your outfit again? Consider if suits can be hired or if you could purchase anything from charity shops or second-hand. I bought my wedding dress from Oxfam Bridal and have now donated it to Wedding Wishing Well which organises weddings for people with life limiting illnesses.


Think second hand for wedding outfits

Help your high street

With so much available at the click of a button don’t forget your small local businesses. It can often be a personal experience to get local people involved in your celebrations and you never know what you’ll find.

Make it green

Why not have plants as gifts for your guests? We had daffodil bulbs in baskets on tables and then were able to give them to guests to take home and enjoy. We also got packets of sunflower seeds as gifts for all the guests to take home. It was lovely to get photos from family members all through the summer with progress updates on their sunflowers! Something to grow can be the perfect memento from your celebration.


Give natural gifts that have little impact on the planet

Food waste

Think creatively about what your guests will enjoy. As we were a small group including children our venue did us a barbeque. Bean burgers, potato wedges and salads went down a treat! It was more informal than a sit-down meal and we were able to take all the leftover for colleagues and friends. Reduce food waste by thinking about how you can transport any leftover food.

My final piece of advice is to make your celebration your own. Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, weddings or Halloween. Don’t get sucked into what’s “Instagramable” or on-trend. We had more fun on our day than we could have imagined and much of that was down to the simplicity of the day. We bought the daffodil bulbs the night before on a whim and I washed the mud out of my wedding dress in the bath- came up like new!

About the author: Anna Maggs is the Communications Officer for Our Bright Future.

Image credit: Photography by Firsthand Photography

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