If you navigate through the logistics of floriculture, you begin to realise how much waste is produced on a daily basis. However, with sustainability on everybody’s lips, florists today are rethinking their ways and venturing towards more sustainable practices in both design and business model.
If you are a florist looking to improve on the fundamentals and practice floristry using a more eco-friendly approach, here are a few simple tips that will help you become more sustainable.
Ditch floral foam
The use of floral foam in the floral design industry is prevalent as it often forms the foundation of flower arrangements; providing a water source to help keep flowers fresh throughout an event.
However, floral foam is a large contributor to waste in the floral design business. Not only is floral foam often single-use, it is also a petroleum-derived product made from two toxic chemicals – phenol and formaldehyde. This plastic material breaks down into smaller pieces becoming microplastics which destroys habitats and is ingested by wildlife when released into the natural environment.
A more sustainable alternative to floral foam is chicken wire. A malleable material, it can be cut and molded into a ball that will hold the structure of a flower arrangement in place. Moss can also be used as a water source to keep the arrangement fresh rather than using plastic floral foam.
For a quick tutorial on how to use the chicken wire a compote arrangement, check out this YouTube video.
Source locally grown flowers and foliage
Who knew that with so many plants and flowers involved, that the floriculture industry isn’t really as green as it seems? In our previous post we outlined the environmental costs of the fast flower trade. Roughly 90% of flowers in the United States are imported from other countries, such as Ecuador or Colombia. Once the processed flowers are loaded in the refrigerated truck, the race against time begins to ensure that these chilled flowers are delivered to their destination as preserved and intact as possible. They are taken to the cold storage facility near the airport, are prepped and packaged to be stacked and loaded in a chilled airplane and then delivered to various destinations – often this occurs on the same day they are harvested. Such a huge carbon footprint for a highly perishable item.
As a florist, sourcing flowers and foliage locally, from your own region or at the very maximum within your country’s borders, as well as sourcing organically grown flowers and native flowers, will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimise synthetic chemicals sprayed into the natural environment. You can find local flower farms that offer seasonal, local and organic blooms using the Grown Not Flown app, an app purposely built to help florists and customers find slow flower farms.
Recycle flower waste
There are tons of flower waste left in churches, temples, event places each and every day. A huge volume of these stale blooms are thrown in landfill and even in bodies of water where chemicals and insecticides – that were used to preserve these once-fresh blossoms – are washed away, poisoning marine life. Furthermore, rotting flowers are the perfect home for microbes that cause pollution, produce a harmful stench and even spread infectious diseases.
One way to manage flower waste is to encourage your customers to vermicompost the discarded blooms. It is not only an effective way to clean the environment from flower waste pollution but it also serves as an organic fertilizer. Alternatively, you can offer to remove the flowers after the event and compost these yourself.
A cute flower shop attracts many – young and old, man, woman and non-binary alike. Decorating it successfully, especially your shop window, is critical to a successful floristry business. However, you don’t need to use brand new and expensive furniture and decor to beautify the place up. Sourcing items second hand will do the trick. Check out sites such as Facebook marketplace, Craigslist and eBay for preloved items – and you’ll save money by doing so too. The same applies for buckets and vessels.
Last but not least, go plastic-free. Veto plastic tape and cellophane and choosing to wrap bouquets and arrangements in natural, biodegradable materials such as recycled paper and paper tape such as Woodruff & Co’s eco-friendly tape that uses FSC-certified paper and also uses a vegetable adhesive derived from potato starch! And instead of using ribbons made of synthetic fabric such as polyester, opt for ribbon made of natural fibres such as cotton, hemp or silk.
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Cover image by S O C I A L . C U T.