Photo: How to recycle a wedding dress

Today's green brides can choose from eco-friendly materials. (Credit: Jason Lloyd via Flickr)

Have you ever heard of upcycling? It's a form of recycling.

You take something that you might have otherwise thrown out and find a way to make it new again!

First, take your old dress and have it wet cleaned —dry cleaning's greener cousin that doesn't use harsh chemical solvents. Then find a seamstress to update the style. A good seamstress can shorten or dye your dress after the big day so it can be worn again. If your dress is quite dated, perhaps there are only some components that might be re-purposed, like the skirt or veil.

If your dress is from a more recent era, check out SmartBride Boutique (@Smartbride). They consign dresses online, making it easy to find a home for your old dress or shop for a new one!

Today's green brides can also choose from eco-friendly organic cotton, linen, vintage lace, or silk. And locally produced is best. Dresses labelled "Made in the U.S." or Europe may actually originate somewhere else. They just get shipped to the claimed location for "finishing". Look for a label sewn in.

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And choose eco-friendlier silks —they're less processed and rougher in texture. Peace Silks are often the most sustainable. The moth leaves its cocoon and lives out the last five days of its 70-day life cycle. The silk is collected and woven on hand looms, mostly in northern India. Many small villagers still harvest wild silks—often a natural golden colour. Standard factory silk is the most processed. Worms are hatched inside large warehouses and fed mulberry leaves. Once the cocoons are complete—before the moths escape—they're boiled. This "natural fibre" never sees the light of day.

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