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Woman pays for wedding with recycled bottles

Would you do something like this? Images: A recycled wedding via Facebook

Leonie Starr and her fiancé, Matthew Porter, want to get married on 7 November, 2020, and she has an unorthodox plan of getting them there.

Bottle collecting.

Starr’s goal is to collect 200,000 bottles and cans and exchange them for money at recycling depots.

And she’s getting there. She’s already saved enough money by recycling to pay for the venue, celebrant and catering.

“The second of November last year was my first drop off to the recycling depot and I got $17.50. I went a couple more times before thinking, ‘I should probably save this money for the wedding,’” she told Yahoo Finance.

“I posted it on my Facebook for our family and friends to start collecting and started going for more walks. I’d walk up the side of roads with gloves and two bags; one for bottles and one for rubbish. My first drop off to the depot for our wedding was on the 12 November 2018. It’s nearly been one year collecting for our wedding.”

When Starr started, she was collecting 10,000 bottles a month, which slowed when she picked up her second job. She’s now working seven days a week and picking up around 2,000 bottles a month.

“But it hasn’t stopped my determination!” she said.

“I either wake up earlier and go for a quick walk, or I’m out riding my bike around the neighbourhood through the parks collecting bottles people have littered in our environment.

“What is great to see one year into collecting is that there are fewer bottles being thrown out people’s windows which would mean the people littering now recycle or someone else is out in our community picking them up just like me!”

Starr has also slightly shifted her goals since she began last year. Originally, as she told Yahoo News in 2018, the goal was a $81,000 wedding in Vanuatu, including accommodation for guests, meals and the wedding.

In the year since, they’ve decided to move the wedding back to the Sunshine Coast. But, the bottle and can goal remains the same, with Starr hoping to use the leftover cash for a honeymoon and a house deposit.

“I’m hoping to keep wedding costs as close to the original quote for the wedding even though we will now be doing an official wedding here on the coast instead of Vanuatu,” Starr said.

“The original quote for the wedding was $5,000 and there won’t be any accommodation to worry about here on the coast so the cost will be quite different from the original. We are budgeting for $10,000.”

But what Starr is really excited about is how willing people are to get involved. Once she put the call out on Facebook, people began helping her collect or just saving them for her - a bonus for her hip pocket, and for the environment.

“TOMRA recycling actually gave us a cheque for $1000 to put towards the flowers and decorations for our wedding which is just so amazing,” she added.

Image: A recycled wedding via Facebook

But there have also been some surprising downsides, namely online hate.

Starr wasn’t prepared for the “nasty and hateful” comments that came their way once she decided to use recycling to fund the wedding, and considers this the biggest challenge.

“It’s a small minority of keyboard warriors and there is definitely a lot more support for what we are doing globally which outweighs the bad. I just focus on the positive and believe in what I’m doing is the right thing to do.”

Image: A recycled wedding via Facebook

She said she hopes her story inspires people to recycle and think about how they can cut back on waste.

“My advice to anyone wanting to start their recycling journey would be to set a goal and get your family and friends involved in your goal because no one wants to see you achieve your goals more than the people that love and support you,” she said.

“Whether you have a couple bottles or a couple thousand bottles, it couldn’t be easier to recycle. I head to the TOMRA in Kunda Park and they have reverse vending machines which you put your bottles in and it gives you a receipt for the money, or a bag drop option which I do daily.

Image: A recycled wedding via Facebook

“I have a scheme ID number and the boys pour the bags into the bulk machine and my hundreds of bottles are counted in minutes and the money deposited into my bank account! It’s quick and easy.”

You can follow Starr’s journey here.

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