While the floral industry as a whole ignores environmental-consciousness, there's a small but growing movement among independent florists worldwide to practice their art in a way that is less damaging to the planet. This movement may be divided into three different avenues toward eco-consciousness:
- Responsible Product Sourcing- the goal here is to use local and domestic product as much as possible to not only reduce the amount of jet fuel consumed by moving flowers around the globe, but also supporting appropriate environmental regulations and labor protections. Champion of the cause: Slow Flowers Movement is dedicated to connecting florists and their customers to the source of their flowers, and supporting transparent origin labeling, which heightens the he value of local, seasonal and sustainably-grown flowers.
- Abandoning Floral Foam- Floral foam is widely used in the floral indsutry to style arrangements of all kinds, from wreaths and casket arrangements to wedding bouquets. Floral foam is basically an open-celled plastic that's full of toxic chemicals like fermaldehyde and carbon black, not to mention that the dust is dangerous to breathe in. Florists exposing themselves to these chemicals should take precautions such as wearing gloves, eye protection, and dust masks (when handling it dry). While the foam may be degradeable (it breaks down into dust), it isn't bio-degradable meaning it doesn't break down into natural compounds, it simply breaks down into smaller pieces of floral foam (microplastics). Removing floral foam from floral design ensures florist and customer safety as well as the disposal of toxic microplastics into the environment. Champion of the cause: @nofloralfoam is am Instagram site dedicated to supporting florists who use achieve beautiful flower arrangements without floral foam. Florists can share knowledge, tips, and tricks and encourage each other to use alternative methods to floral foam while achieving similar results.
- Abandoning Single-use Plastics- The floral industry is rampant with plastic waste. Plastic vases, plastic and cellophane wrapping, waterproof liners for decorative containers, floral foam, throw-away buckets, cardettes (that stick that holds the card with your message on it), and decorative piques are all on the chopping block although these products are so inexpensive and easy to use it can be hard to break the habit. (Florists who aim to use less floral foam are often caught in the trap of using plastic poultry netting instead, which the purists don't agree with.) Champion of the cause: the verdict is still out here.
While many florists will choose one of the above to focus on, I've chosen to double down on sustainability and go for all three. I think it's possible to have the beauty of flowers in our lives without irreparable damage to the planet. I've set my own goals and expectations for Foxbound Flowers, listed below.
Foxbound Flowers Sustainable Floristry Tenets:
Reduce the Waste Stream:
- abandon single use plastics, especially floral foam
- reduce the purchase of new items and products as much as possible by reusing or upcycling items (i.e. encourage customers to return vases for reuse, purchase vases/containers from second-hand stores, or repurpose items for floral containers.) thereby reducing the amount of waste added to the landfill, and energy and material consumption needed for the manufacturing of new items
- compost 100% of organic matter
- recycle anything that can not be reused or repurposed
Source Product Responsibly:
- Support local flower farmers- get to know the farmers and their growing practices to make sure they align with sustainability goals (i.e. Salmon Safe growers, bee-friendly growth, etc.)
- Support domestic growers when local product isn't available (reduce global carbon emissions, enforceable domestic labor laws, etc.)
This may seem like a short list of goals, but I can assure you it's not as simple as it seems. In future posts, I'll dig in to some of these items in more detail. For now though, it's important to be clear on what I expect of myself, and what my customers can expect from me.