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Tips for practising sustainable floristry

by Beth Abood |

A florist’s work can sometimes feel like a bit of a contradiction. We create beautiful flower arrangements that celebrate nature, but in doing so use products and methods that have the potential to harm it.

While it’s near impossible to be 100% sustainable in our work at this point in time, there are small tweaks we can make to limit our environmental impact. And, there are rewards for trying! Much the same as minimising your wardrobe or decluttering your home, limiting materials and having restricted processes can lead to more thoughtful, interesting creations and lower costs.

  1. RE-USE – unfortunately, even organically grown flowers and plants have a substantial carbon footprint. Where the brief allows, consider what materials you already have that can be re-used such as dried flowers, plants, or long-lasting leaves and foliage used only briefly for an event. At Floreat, we often save leaves brought back from weekly corporate arrangements and use them to line glass vases the following week. We also dry out any flowers that can be re-purposed in a dried installation or arrangement. 

  2. BUY SEASONAL & LOCAL – buy flowers in season, and better yet, grown locally. Flowers that aren’t being forced to bloom out of season are less of a drain on natural resources and are of much higher quality than an out-of-season import. Locally grown flowers also need fewer stages of transport and normally have less packaging than imports, so their carbon footprint and waste output is lower. The Sydney flower market has such a high percentage of local growers, which makes it so easy for the Floreat team to buy 90% locally grown and in season.  

  3. LIMIT WATER USE – Let dirty vases build up and wash in one batch. Use fewer buckets where possible by mixing flower types. Re-use fresh buckets of water.

  4. AVOID FLORAL FOAM – floral foam is a non-biodegradable, single-use plastic product. Use environmentally friendlier alternatives such as chicken wire, floral frogs and reusable containers. This has been a challenging and often more time-consuming process for the Floreat team but the consensus is that it's all worth it if we can do better for the planet. 

  5. WRAP MINIMALLY – Paper and plastic packaging from bouquets often wind up scrunched in the bin shortly after they’re gifted. To limit waste, consider:
    - Using less wrapping
    - Foregoing a wet wrap if flowers are hardy. Add recycled water vials to delicate flowers only.
    - Wrapping with recycled materials like coffee sacks, or presenting arrangements in used jars and tins
    - Use biodegradable wrapping, such as cellophane (not plastic) which can be composted or sent to landfill in the regular garbage to breakdown. This is the solution we've found works best for Floreat's gift bouquets, and all other aspects of the gift wrap i.e. ribbon, card are reusable or recyclable
    - Delivering wedding bouquets in re-used boxes and jars

  6. SORT YOUR RUBBISH – waste is unavoidable, but simple processes can be set up to make sure it ends up in the right place, such as having four easily accessible bins. As a general guide place plastics that can be scrunched into a ball in a “soft plastics” bin – there are collections at supermarkets for these, or if you're a florist operating in Sydney, Sophie of Puggle & Squib offers a flower sleeves collection service, which Floreat are currently using to reduce the amount of plastic ending up in landfill. Recycle all cardboard, paper and hard plastics, or return big cardboard boxes to the market for growers to re-use. Put stems and old flowers in a green bin or compost yourself. Most of what’s left (which won’t be much) will go in general rubbish and end up in landfill. 

We’re always trying to improve on our environmental impact, so we’d love it if you shared your sustainable floristry tips with us in the comments below.

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