Set in the rolling hills of North Wales in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), Tower Hill Barns has always consciously considered its place in the natural world. It’s difficult not to – we’re blessed to be immersed in nature and we always witness the changing patterns in the land, the weather and the seasons. It’s always been important to us to ensure we do as little damage as possible in our small corner of Wales. But on Earth Day this year, we’ve seriously reflected on our role in protecting the environment and cultivating more sustainable practices.
There’s no denying the wedding industry, unfortunately, is inherently wasteful. An often-cited Sainsbury report published in 2017 proposed that a tenth of all food at every wedding is wasted. Other studies have quantified the amount of plastic waste generated – with estimates ranging from 20kg to a whopping 180kg per wedding.
But, it does not need to be this way.
We’ve always considered ourselves problem-solvers, innovators, dynamic and flexible. As a business, we don’t shy away from the difficult, and we consistently challenge ourselves to be better. For us, tackling climate change and taking care of our planet means understanding our part in the problem, learning from our mistakes, sharing our experiences and building solutions with the couples who share one of the most important days of their lives with us.
This Earth Day, we pledge to take intentional and tangible action towards improving the environmental sustainability of the wedding industry.
We see ourselves as proud stewards of both the Welsh countryside we call home and the communities we live and work with. Doing our part to reduce carbon emissions and to reduce waste will help protect this beautiful part of the earth for everyone.
Our pledge statement:
We pledge to be a sustainable, environmentally conscious company committed to making decisions today that will improve our environmental standing tomorrow. We pledge to raise awareness and to be a change agent to help reduce the impact of UK weddings on the environment.
Innovation is part of our DNA. We encourage idea sharing and out-of-the-box thinking to tackle the massive challenge of climate change both in Wales and at a global level. We pledge to guide our couples, suppliers, and industry partners to join us in our mission.
What does this mean?
A statement doesn’t mean anything without the who, what, how and when, and we don’t wish to make bold statements without substance. However, while we could think of a million different things we could try, we’re aware that by focussing too much on the big picture we might become overwhelmed and less likely to do anything at all.
Therefore, we’re examining some of the biggest polluting culprits in the wedding industry and we’re taking a good hard look at our approach to them. We’re challenging ourselves to create meaningful goals to realistically work towards, to enable real and tangible impacts.
We’re going to:
- take extra action to reduce food mileage, and continue to improve our sourcing: specifically working with suppliers who align with our mission.
- food mileage contributes a significant proportion of overall food-related carbon emissions. Besides – we have a wonderful selection of local producers right on our doorstep. Why would we go anywhere else? This leads us nicely to our next goal…
- continue to grow relations within the local community, to support Welsh small businesses and the farming community to source food and support locally grown, field to fork initiatives.
- data shows that by buying local, up to 63p of every pound remains within the local economy – which is enormous! That translates to more money spent on improving the local community and helps us fight climate change in a way that also benefits our neighbours.
- significantly cut food waste by catering specifically for the correct number of guests, by promoting seasonal menus and by being intentional with our menu choices.
- we’ve already outlined the huge amount of food wastage produced by the wedding industry and we are putting into place methods to reduce our contribution.
- remain paperless wherever possible.
- in 2020 we made the switch to e-contracts and in 2021 we went digital with our brochures. We’ll continue these efforts and further encourage our suppliers, contractors and couples to support this.
- report on our findings by next Earth Day.
- we want to offer accountability and transparency. We’ll celebrate our journey and fight to continue making improvements.
We plan to:
- begin composting and use Polytunnels to grow our own vegetables
- composting allows us to avoid food waste ending up in landfill, and also we can help ‘close the loop’ in our consumption habits. This means that energy isn’t wasted – the food we grow will be served, and anything wasted will contribute to the future growth of new delicious fruit and vegetables in our gardens.
- reduce our reliance on single-use plastics and catering disposables.
- we probably don’t need to explain why this is important – David Attenborough did a great job a few years ago. We all know microplastics damage our precious earth and all its inhabitants. However, there is a balance to be struck; sometimes single-use plastics are important for sectors of society. Our mission to tackle climate change will never lead to exclusion.
- recycle and repurpose materials whenever we can.
surprisingly uncommon in the wedding industry – this is something we feel is extremely important, and easily achieved with some planning and training. We’ll share more resources over the next year to help you participate in this goal as you plan your wedding.
- nurture partnerships with providers who share our values because, together, our efforts are stronger.
- we intend to develop a ‘sustainable wedding’ package, with everything made by or provided by us, or by specially selected suppliers that completely align with our values and support our mission.
Finally, we intend to publicly communicate with our couples and their guests, and our suppliers and all industry partners about our goals, efforts and progress. Fostering ongoing conversation about environmental issues and how we can all play an active role is vital, and we’re looking to lead the way.
We can’t do everything, we can’t do it overnight, and we can’t do it without you – please hold us to account, challenge us to be better and learn with us. We’re excited to see what we can achieve.
What comes next?
We’ve always felt if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing really well. Over the next 12 months, we’ll continue to add to this page (and also share this message on our socials and in our emails and communications), and provide resources and further information for couples, suppliers and industry.
> Read our Earth Day Sustainability Update on ‘what we’ve been doing so far’, published 07/06/22
If there’s anything you’d like to know or question us on, please feel welcome to contact us.
Last updated 16 January 2023
In our 2022 Earth Day statement, we pledged to take intentional and tangible action towards improving the environmental sustainability of the wedding industry. This still rings true today, more than ever.
We continue to see ourselves as proud stewards of both the Welsh countryside we call home and the communities we live and work with.
Over the past 12 months, we have successfully implemented a recycling system in our bar and back-of-house areas. This means we now properly sort our waste materials for recycling and collection. We’ve also taken further action to reduce food wastage, cut food miles, and continue to minimise the existence of single-use plastics – both in our operations and with our couples.
Perhaps most excitedly, is our Heritage Welsh Apple Orchard that we’ve planted on the grounds of the venue. This orchard is about celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the region whilst ensuring these rare apple varieties don’t drop off the historical timeline altogether. We plan to use the apples in our food and drink offerings.
You can see more of our updates here.
In the next 12 months, we’re eager to tackle a new composting project for our organic food waste. And we’re also keen to explore resources from industry partners to ensure proper organic matter waste collection.
We plan to explore relevant environmental accreditation processes and procedures, such as ISO 14001. As well as alliances with industry bodies who share our ethos and can continue to transfer knowledge and training with us.
As ever, we are passionate about furthering the conversation with our couples and strongly encourage all of our couples to make conscious decisions when planning their wedding – from the suppliers they use to the waste produced – and the impact this has on our natural environment.
Statement issued 21 April 2023