Fabulous Eco-Friendly Favors That Never Go Out of Style

Guest blogger: Kate Harrison, creator of greenbrideguide.com.
After planning her own green wedding in 2007, Kate wrote 
the best-selling green wedding book, The Green Bride Guide: How to Plan an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any Budget (Sourcebooks, 2008). In 2009, she founded greenbrideguide.com to help couples use their weddings to promote social and environmental change while supporting the local green economy. Kate has a JD in Environmental Law and a Master's from Yale in Environmental Policy.

Wedding favors go in and out of style like fashion — remember matchbooks with the couple’s names that were popular in the 1980s? And a few years ago, candy emblazoned with pictures of the bride and groom was all the rage. More recently, the personalized CD became popular.

Before you buy popular wedding favors, consider some wonderful and more meaningful alternatives that are available. Consider your values, hobbies, or the way you met, and try to find something that is unique and meaningful for the two of you. Then, select items that can be reused, are made from recycled materials, employ local businesses, or support a cause you believe in. By instituting some eco-alternatives, you have already made an imprint that gives back to you as a couple, your guest, and Mother Earth. Whether you choose a favor for now or a favor for later, you will have happy guests who know you care.
Here, our favorite top 5 green favors that never go out of style:

1. Eco-Edibles
 You can't go wrong with a small edible treat that your guests can enjoy while they are celebrating or take home to indulge later. Our picks: cake bites, the perfect chocolate-covered strawberry, or a small jar of marmalade from a local farm. Look for cupcake liners and other supplies made from recycled paper to hold your treat or hug your jam jar.

cake bites wedding favor
Photo courtesy of Babycakes

2. Plant a Tree and Watch it Grow
For a green wedding, a tree is a fitting favor. Trees clean the air of toxins, prevent soil erosion, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The Arbor Day Foundation allows you to find tree species appropriate for your area by zip code, and you can buy small evergreen saplings in favor-ready packages online from Tree Beginnings.

tree wedding favor

Photo courtesy of Music Equals Art

If you have a lot of friends who live in city apartments with no backyards, you may want to opt for potted plants instead of trees. Ferns, violets, and even potted cacti make nice gifts and can double as table decorations.

3. Present a DIY Delight
 If you have the time, nothing beats a handmade favor. For artists and crafters, making small favors can be a wonderful way to add a personal touch to your reception. If you want to make your own favors, it is essential that you start early and stay realistic. Give guests a signature bottle of soda pop you made with a biodegradable straw tied around the neck, a handmade succulent terrarium, or a collection of your favorite recipes, arranged on recycled paper with a heart shaped cookie cutter or a mini rolling pin attached. 

recipe wedding favor

Photo Courtesy of Etsy Wedding

4. Provide a Little Love Buzz
 Everyone loves a gourmet cup of tea or coffee. If you want to give a personal favor on a budget, buy organic or fair trade loose-leaf tea or shade-grown organic coffee. You can repackage it into single-serving sizes and customize them with pretty labels. Look for companies that use recycled shipping materials; some even donate a portion of each purchase to an international humanitarian effort. Choose from alluring flavored coffees, depending on the season — consider pumpkin spice for a fall weddingcoffee wedding favor

Photo Courtesy of Bragging Bags on Etsy

5. Feed Your Favorite Feathered Friends
Give your guests an earth-friendly wedding favor that’s for the birds! Bird seed favors are the perfect way to give back to the earth; there is no leftover waste, and you can rest assured that your guests did not toss plastic trinket favors at the end of the night. Package your favors in eco-friendly bags and customize them with your names and your wedding date on the front. Once you take them home, you can hang them on a fencepost or a tree outside and watch the birds flock to snack.

bird seed wedding favor
     Photo courtesy of Green Bride Guide
Whether you make your own favors or buy something new, even simple gifts can be transformed with the power of packaging. Jazz up your favors with sustainable twine, soy or vegetable ink embellishments, or even plantable wildflower gift boxes that can be placed in the soil to grow new blooms. Depending on what you choose, you can place favors on your guests’ plates, in a basket by the door, in goodie bags, on chairs at the ceremony, or give them out at any other time during the wedding. Have fun with your favors and go green!

—Kate Harrison, creator of greenbrideguide.com