The goal of the sustainable floristry movement is to shift the thinking within our profession to more eco-friendly approaches and to practices that promote “greater good” in the social and economic aspects of our industry. Each business will decide what is right for them, given their variables of customer, climate, project and business model. If you are considering incorporating sustainability into your floral business, here are some suggestions to implement.
1. Be informed. Inform your customer.
The first thing you need to do to make the switch is to understand WHY a more sustainable approach is right for you and your values (and your customer) so you can convey that to your customer. When you take a sustainable floristry approach, you are adding value to your products. I truly believe that people like to “do good” and will make the better choice if they truly understand the scenario. Make sure you clearly understand the reasoning behind your practices so you can explain, and sell, the alternative to your client.
2. Go foam free
There are lots of good reasons to discontinue your use of floral foam. It is a plastic waste product made from carcinogenic compounds and it never biodegrades. As you unpack your foam the dry dust is hazardous to breathe and is a skin irritant. The trouble don’t stop there, however. As a trash product it simply breaks into smaller and smaller particles. Floral foam is a very problematic microplastic, and the evidence of harm by microplastics is well documented. A side note here – recently a new & “improved” foam was released – but the claim of biodegradability is greenwashing. Read more about it in this post titled “The Problems With Floral Foam.” If you feel you must use foam, I hope that it is a well considered decision and you’ve really explored and exhausted all your other options.
3. Source local, slow flowers & goods
When you opt for locally grown flowers and goods, you are creating many layers of “good.” Locally grown blooms & goods require shorter shipping routes, which means less emissions. Often locally grown flowers require less packaging, which means less waste. Local flowers are not subject to the fumigant chemicals so common with imports. Locally grown means preservation of farmland. Locally grown or American-made means investment in local jobs and a contribution to economic health.
Read more about the benefits of using local, slow flowers in this blog “Why I Choose Locally Grown Flowers.”.
4. Create less waste
Instead of floral foam, choose reusable, recyclable or compostable mechanics such as pin frogs, chicken wire, flower tubes, eco-fresh wraps, branch armatures, etc. Build mechanics/structures that you can use over and over again from event to event. Instead of disposable zip ties use recyclable metal wire.
Streamline your ordering to cut down on shipping & waste. Tight recipes and good coordination of purchase orders can help you reduce the amount of waste from unused flowers. It can help cut down on your trips to market and reduce the number of boxes shipped. It also can lead to profits, which is economic sustainability!
Help your clients create less waste. Invest in a few rental inventory items that you can offer clients, such as candles and candle holders, in order to cut down on the consumption of “stuff” (since “stuff” requires manufacturing, packaging, shipping). Adding a non-perishable revenue stream can also be helpful to your bottom line.
Compost your waste – even if that means bringing home the used floral installation so it can go into your compost pile instead of the venue’s dumpster. I know you’re tired, but the planet needs you.
5. Use “better-than” products
Opt for using eco-wraps and tubes over floral foam; paper instead of plastic sleeves/wraps on flowers; non-plastic methods; biodegradable plastics vs non-biodegradable.
Sometimes we can’t source local given the time of year or the needs of our clients. In these situations it is useful to consider the other ways you can make a “better than” choice. Ask your wholesaler to source products from farms that are certified by Rainforest Alliance or FlorVerde. These certifications offer an assurance that employees are treated well and that environmental conservation is a practice of the business. If the floral supplier in Ecuador supplies good, respectful workplace jobs and isn’t chopping down the forest and dumping chemicals into the waterways, then you can feel better about buying imports.
Consider “better than” for your hard goods. For example, most candles are made from paraffin, which is a petroleum product. Instead, look for non-gmo soy, sustainably farmed palm oil, or beeswax candles. I buy my candles from Goodlight. The quality is great and their prices are good and I’m happy to provide this value to my clients. Their site will also help educate you about why switching from paraffin is a great idea!
For your daily work, consider using Syndicate Sale’s line of American made, recycled glass vases. And did you know they’ve just started manufacturing Holly’s design pillows & eggs in Indiana? American jobs!
And of course, buying used from thrift or antique stores, or sell-my-wedding sites is always a smart sustainable option!
6. Employ sustainable business practices
Floristry is hard work. In trade for that work you should be making a respectable wage! Get to know your business finances. Learn about pricing, and analyze your own practices. Get profitable. Pay yourself & your employees a living wage.
Think hard about your business model. Consider your niches sales channels, diversification of income.
Set yourself up for the long haul: schedule time for breaks, for activities that inspire and sustain your creativity. Consider ergonomics & the design of your workspace. Are your physical workflows efficient and easy on your body?
These are some of my thoughts on ways that you can incorporate sustainability into your floristry business. Let me know what you think. Did any of this help you? Do you want to make the switch to sustainability but you aren’t sure how to go about it? I’m eager to hear what you think, what your challenges are. And I’m happy to help as I can!