Eco Wedding: Say, 'I Do," to the Dissolvable Bridal Gown

Summer brides now have an ethical alternative when purchasing their wedding dress – a gown that actually dissolves in water.

British students at Sheffield Hallam University created six sustainable bridal designs out of a biodegradable material, weaving polyvinyl alcohol directly into the fabric. The idea is that post-wedding, the gown can be broken down in water, without damaging the environment, to produce five new reusable garments. Fashion lecturer Jane Blohm explains, “The students wants to challenge the notion that a wedding dress should only be used once...The project is a union between art and technology which explores the possibilities of using alternative materials for our clothing.”

The students took trashion to a whole new level as they showcased the gowns at a university exhibition on sustainable marriage in late May, just in time for the rush of summer brides-to-be. The group of undergraduate fashion students combined their talents of design, embellishment, pattern cutting and garment manufacture with the skills of the post-graduate engineering students, working with polymers, bio-compostable, and biodegradable materials to create the “Ultimate Wedding Gown.”

They are hoping to change the attitudes of society to create a greener bridal fashion scene, an initiative that is much needed in much of the western world.

The average cost of a wedding dress is about $1600, and most Americans usually put their gowns in storage, never to be worn again. This isn’t only a problem in the US. The University reports that textiles are the fastest growing waste product in the UK, with over 1,480,000 tons of textiles being thrown away annually, filling the UK's landfills with materials that should be able to be used again.

“In order to reduce fashion’s impact on the environment, the fashion industry must begin to challenge conventional attitudes and practices,” says Blohm in a press release.

If the idea of a dissolvable bridal gown is too much for your bridezilla mindset, there are other ways to add a little green to that white dress. Consider borrowing a family member’s old gown; a cherished heirloom is a way to connect to a loved one’s past, while being environmentally-friendly. Vintage styles have become the new rage, and if they are too “blast-from-the-past,” many designers and seamstresses can alter the designs to make them more modern at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new gown.

Many second-hand clothing stores carry bridal gowns, and since they have only been worn once, they usually are in mint-condition! Usually sold at a quarter of the purchase price, you will save a pretty penny on the prettiest purchase of your life.

Another way to green-up your summer wedding is to consider donating your dress. There are many organizations that will take your dress off your hands and help others in the process:

  • The Bridal Garden: Helping New York Children, focusing on issues such as foster care, education and adoption.
  • American Council of the Blind: Helping those with visual impairments through scholarships, public education and advocacy.
  • Goodwill: Located in most major cities, Goodwill is helping enhance the quality of life of individuals in need and aiding in employing thousands with disabilities and impairments.

Photo credits: Photo courtesy of www.ecofriend.org