Recycle, Re-Use or Donate Your Wedding Dress

Wedding dress Whether you've just celebrated your own wedding day or your daughter's, you may be left with one souvenir you don't need to hold on to: the dress.

Yes, you can keep it in a bag in the back of your closet for the next 20 years and hope someone, someday will wear it again.

Or, you can give your dress a second life right away, by selling it or donating it online. If you're in the market for a wedding dress, think "new to you," as opposed to "brand new," and you'll not only get a dress that's more eco-friendly. You'll probably get a bargain, too. The dress pictured to the left? Over $3,200 new; just $800 gently worn at SavetheDress.com.

Some of the re-sellers listed below charge a small fee to list your dress, then pay you when the dress sells. Others simply sell on consignment, which means they'll only pay you when they sell your dress.

Recycled Bride. This free marketplace recycles everything from designer wedding gowns to table decorations. The site works just as well for buyers as it does for sellers.

Encore Bridal. An online consignment and resale bridal boutique, this company also uses recycled paper for stationary, recycled and biodegradable shipping packages, and fuel-efficient transportation.

Once Wed. This site offers brides everything from wedding ideas and photos for inspiration to once-worn wedding gowns. You can list your wedding dress on the site for free. Bonus? A portion of the revenue brought into the site goes to International Justice Mission which supports justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and violent oppression.

Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses and WoreItOnce. Both online companies connect buyers and sellers of new, sample and used wedding dresses.

Donate Your Dress. Several charities not only re-sell wedding dresses at a lower cost, but also donate some of the proceeds to organizations that help those in need.

Brides Against Breast Cancer. This non-profit organization holds several wedding dress selling events in many locations. These events make wedding gowns more affordable to brides and the proceeds go toward granting a wish to a woman with breast cancer. Your donation is tax-deductible.

I Do Foundation. This group will re-sell your dress through one of its partners. Twenty percent of the proceeds go to the charity of your choice, and the rest is used by the foundation to continue with its efforts.

The Bridal Garden. Donating your dress to this organization supports the Sheltering Arms Children's Service, which helps New York City children in the areas of the education, foster care, and adoption.

Get Creative. If you're the crafty type and can't bear to part with your dress, recycle it at home. Use the fabric to create christening gowns, or cut the dress into a new, less formal design. There should be enough fabric there to fashion into a cocktail dress and short jacket. Or keep it simple, and use the fabric to decorate a purse, pillow or piece of furniture.

Don't miss GreatGreenWedding.com for more suggestions on ways to keep your big day on an environmentally-friendly footing.

And for wedding rings made from recycled gold and other gems, check here.

Diane MacEachern

For more ways to green your wedding, visit www.biggreenpurse.com

For green product recommendations, health and safety information, and environmental succeess stories, get your own copy of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World today.