Whenever you meet me or visit my website, you’ll know that I pride myself on being an eco-friendly wedding cake maker. I write for a number of blogs, with regular posts being published on the topic of eco-friendly weddings and cakes. But what is an eco-friendly wedding cake and why should you care?
What does eco-friendly wedding cake mean?
Unfortunately, there are lots of different words thrown around in the world of eco-friendly wedding cake. Other than eco-friendly, some of the words that can be used include responsibly sourced, local, sustainable, ethical, environmentally friendly, low carbon footprint, carbon neutral and eco-conscious. Not all of them capture everything I do, and in some cases, I can’t fully work within one set definition. Each of them has a slightly different angle, so there’s not really one word that fits best. To learn more about the different perspectives that ‘eco-friendly’ food comes from, please head over to I Do. I’ve written a really detailed article with each of the different nuances outlined there. It’s not perfect, but for me, an eco-friendly wedding cake means a few important things:
- All animal products (milk, butter, eggs) are from happy and healthy animals
- No humans are exploited in the supply chain
- Where palm oil is in pre-made ingredients like fondant, it comes from sustainable sources
- Where possible, fruit and fruit products (e.g. jam) come from British sources
- I only use edible varieties of flowers, grown organically in the UK
- There are no preservatives, sweeteners or flavourings added to my cakes (natural or artificial)
- I recycle as much as possible, save energy where I can and offset my carbon footprint
- I talk to the birds and animals in the garden while I work, and have a wildlife friendly garden
To me, an eco-friendly wedding cake should be kind to animals, people and the environment, because we all have to live here on Earth together! That means making considerable effort across all of the different sides to being eco-friendly, in a practical and achievable way.
Eco-Friendly Wedding Cake is Kind to Animals
Ensuring the animal products I use (milk, eggs) were from happy and healthy animals has been a part of my business from day one. It’s also the most important aspect to me personally when it comes to eco-friendly wedding cake. Although I grew up in the suburbs of London, my mum and I essentially started a farm! We owned dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, fish and birds, and have always been passionate about animal rights. We’re a sucker for a rescue dog, regularly donate to animal charities and I’m the first person to stop when I see a stray animal at the side of the road. I went to university in rural Wales, and am set to marry a farmer’s son. I will not be a part of any animal suffering.
So when I’m buying ingredients for my cakes, the cheapest products are not good enough. Although they could always be improved, the UK has the highest animal welfare standards in the world. Everything I use comes from British farms. I use organic British butter in my buttercream, and my eggs are from the lovely team at Stokes Farm. I rant and rave about these eggs because they really are the best – the hens are super happy and they make delicious eggs. The milk and cream that I use is also from British farms, with welfare standards that exceed the minimum requirements.
Eco-Friendly Wedding Cake is Kind to People
When it’s just little old me working away, I can’t interrogate every single item of my ingredients’ supply chain. However, there are a few ways that I make sure the ingredients I buy have as little detriment to people as possible. So there are a couple of different accreditations/reassurances that I’m looking for.
All of my sugar is Fairtrade, from granulated and caster to light and dark brown. The Fairtrade badge means that food has been produced in a way that ensures good working conditions for farmers and fair prices for crops, and supports greater sustainability and environmentally friendly production processes. Nothing is perfect, but this is one of the best indications we have that food has been ethically produced. The chocolate I use will also either be Fairtrade or from sustainably farmed cocoa. I also make sure that my vanilla is responsibly sourced (and more broadly eco-friendly) from the fabulous team at LittlePod. The price of vanilla has increased for a number of reasons, and the industry is experiencing lots of theft and violence. Their #campaignforrealvanilla is so important, so do read more about them and why using real vanilla is the best way.
Finally, unlike some other cake decorators, and definitely unlike supermarket cakes, I add no preservatives, sweeteners or flavourings to my cakes (artificial or natural). They are as fresh and ‘pure’ as they can be. If you have a flavoured cake, let’s take raspberry for example, it comes entirely from real fruit. I also use an unrefined icing sugar , which means it is slightly ‘purer’, undergoing less processing (6 vs. 32 processes!). Being less refined also gives it a naturally caramelly flavour and colour, making it a luxurious, eco-friendly wedding cake.
Eco-Friendly Wedding Cake is Kind to the Environment
In the eco-friendly food world, we talk about cradle to grave or farm to fork. So when it comes to looking after the environment, I’m looking to make sure the choices I make across the process (from ingredients to process and disposal, or from cradle to grave) are the best possible ones I can make. This is what it means for me…
There are just a few ingredients or pre-made items that I use in my business which contain palm oil. Every one of those items has to use palm oil from sustainable sources. The jams I use are made with British fruit, in British factories, to reduce food miles and guarantee rich flavours. With naked/semi-naked cakes, I’ll also be on the lookout for British fruit – fresh Summer strawberries, raspberries and Autumn blackberries. Finally, the edible flowers that I use are organically grown in Devon, by a lovely family team that support and work closely with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. When it comes to my own garden, I try to be as wildlife friendly as possible. I plant lots of insect friendly varieties and allow things to grow more naturally. The birds and insects also keep me sane while I’m working, with our little chats, so they help me too!
Additionally, I recycle as much as possible, make smart swaps for recycled or recyclable items where I can (e.g. bin bags!) and plan to annually offset my carbon footprint. This year was the first time I offset my carbon footprint. I chose to invest in tree planting projects in the South East of England where I live and work. It’s also a great way to reduce some of the impact in harder to influence areas (e.g. travel).
Making Eco-Friendly Wedding Cake in a Practical and Achievable Way
I am certainly not the most perfect eco-friendly wedding cake maker out there. However, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to improve what I do. There are some practical decisions that I have made, to ensure that quality is not compromised, but these are very few and far between. For example I use Stork as I believe you get a better sponge that lasts longer than butter. When it comes to flour, the brand I use has no special credentials. It’s just incredibly finely milled to ensure that your cake is as soft and light as possible. I also use plastic dowels to support my cake tiers. They’re not straws, like some bakers use, and they’re not bamboo or wooden dowels like other bakers use. However, they are the sturdiest way of stacking your cakes, and that is more important to me.
If those practical options don’t work for you, I offer all butter sponges, and plastic free wedding cakes too. You just have to ask. No ifs or buts, the option is there. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly wedding cake maker in the South East, I’m sure to be able to help. Head over to the contact page and get in touch! Good luck and happy planning!
With love from lila xx
P.S. The lovely Jenny over at Jenny Owens Photography has pulled together some tips on planning an eco-friendly wedding and even lists some fabulous Hampshire suppliers who may be able to help you. You can read her post here.