A new wave of floristry – Eco friendly floral design and the end of floral foam…

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I am an eco florist, and am as passionate about creating beautiful floral designs as I am about the carbon footprint that can so easily be left behind in my industry’s wake.

Eco friendly living has moved from the left field into the mainstream.  It’s a movement that will affect all of us, and collectively we can all play our part (large or small) in making a difference to the future of this planet.  If we try to avoid single use plastics and think about the consequences of our actions we can make a huge difference to what ends up in landfill, in our rivers and in the sea.

The tide is beginning to turn in this country, and that is, in no small part due to groundbreaking programmes like Blue Planet showing us what is actually happening in our oceans.

You might expect floristry to be a naturally eco friendly business – but the sad truth is that for the most part it isn’t usually actually very green at all. With imported flowers collected under sometimes pretty questionable working conditions, then dipped in chemicals, wrapped in single use plastic, then boxed and flown half way around the world before getting to the wholesalers… things are looking pretty dire for the environment before those flowers even get into the shops.

There’s packaging to be dealt with, then often even more chemicals are added to the water to ensure a long vase life and when turned into beautiful creations they’re often put into floral foam which is filled with toxins, takes hundreds of years to break down and gets into our waterways.

Frankly put, things aren’t too rosy. Floral arrangements are often wrapped to within an inch of their lives with plastic, whether that’s to protect a basket of flowers or to create an aqua pack (an arrangement with water in the bottom). It’s so much easier to find unseasonal flowers wrapped in plastic than those which are locally grown and ecologically wrapped when you go to buy flowers.

There is another way though. I’m trying not to use take away coffee cups and to keep my own coffee cup and shopping bags with me wherever I go, I gave up eating meat too but I’m not suggesting that’s what anyone else should do – I just want you to know that I’m practising what I preach, not just waxing lyrical about being eco friendly to sell a few more floral designs.

I honestly think you have to start wherever you can. In my business I don’t use any floral foam (you know the green stuff?) in my studio, ever. Nothing gets wrapped in plastic (aside from bubble wrap for transporting large items – but this gets used over and over and over again) I don’t add chemicals to the water, compost all of our green waste and recycle everything I possibly can. I use eco friendly cleaning products and try carefully not to waste water.

The biggest thing that I do is to use BRITISH FLOWERS and BRITSH FOLIAGE – these are grown by fabulous flower growers who have a wealth of knowledge and expertise and grow the most incredibly fragrant and quirky flowers and foliage which are freshly picked, interesting and truly seasonal. Every weeks offerings are different and exciting and wonderful.

What really gets me really excited is big blowsy scented Roses in June or July, especially when combined with Mint and Sweet peas and seasonal foliage ( they hold extra meaning to me because they remind me of my wedding day), these home grown garden roses are to me as different from their unseasonal imported counterparts as strawberries from a pick your own or a farm shop at the height of summer compared with those from a chiller at a supermarket out of season… They are a completely different product.

I truly believe that missing something, longing for its return and dreaming of it when it isn’t around makes it more valuable, more special and worth waiting for. I think what has been a throw away society for too long is becoming a little more considered, a little less demanding of instant gratification and a lot more appreciative of the ramifications of our actions.

I know that I’m re-thinking my actions and I don’t believe I’m alone in this. I set up a group for eco friendly florists, floristry students and flower growers 2 months ago and expected a few like minded friends to want to join in, thinking there might be 5 or 10 of us in there to share tips and techniques… we’re now a group of almost 500 from all over the planet. Accounts like nofloralfoam on Instagram are growing exponentially and I can only see this movement strengthening.

The latest data from the NFU suggests that the floristry profession is in a significant position to influence trends in the cut flower market,  currently only about 12% of flowers sold in the UK are home grown.  There’s clearly a long way to go but nothing worth doing was ever easy so I think that by discussing these things and starting to change the world from our own studios and shops we can be the change that we’d love to see.

I don’t think it’s just florists waking up and smelling the coffee. I really feel the tide is turning.

If you are interested in living in a more considered way, switching imported blooms for beautiful British flowers and foliages may not change the world, but it’s a great place to start (our bees will also thank you).

For a map which shows the locations of growers and florists using British flowers near you please do head to https://www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk

If you’re a florist or would love to be or just love flowers – did you know that all of our floristry workshops (including our huge career changing course ‘Elevate and Thrive’) are eco friendly, floral foam free and use exclusively British Flowers?

Sarah x

(P.S. I’m not pretending that I’m perfect by any stretch, but I am trying to do what I can, and I reckon thats got to count for something)