Sustainable Floral Design; Do You Have To Sacrifice?
April 27, 2021
We have all heard of sustainability, which is using resources that are renewable/reusable and non-toxic. There is room for improvement, which is necessary for the floral industry to continue. When the idea of sustainability within the wedding industry came around, I remember it was something for “hippies” or designers who didn’t handle large-scale weddings. The notion that clients would be sacrificing their aesthetic and design needs was commonplace, which discouraged clients from seeking out designers who prioritized sustainability in their businesses
As with all things, the movement toward a better future continued, especially in organic, sustainably grown, and sourced food. As the idea of sustainability grew in households across the nation, our society started to change too. The wedding industry was one of the areas that saw some of that change. Sustainability in florals isn’t uncommon. More and more resources are becoming available to us every day to make it possible to produce large-scale weddings without using disposable plastics, chemicals, etc. To answer the question in the title, do you have to sacrifice if you make sustainability a priority in your wedding florals? No, you do not, and here are a few of the benefits of doing so.
Here are tips on sustainable wedding flowers without sacrificing aesthetic
I buy local and organically grown flowers because they are pesticide-free. When we order products from commercially run farms, they use chemicals to keep flowers in a sellable condition which then soaks into the soil. From there, the plant drinks up those chemicals from the ground and brings them into the plant. On top of that, they are sprayed with pesticides to keep insects and animals from eating the flowers, so commercial pesticides and chemicals completely inundate the plant. There are heavy metals in the plant that prevent them from being compostable, and honestly, why would I want to compost them? Then I would be spreading the chemicals and heavy metals into my yard/gardens. When I work with flowers from commercial farms, I have to wear gloves because touching them allows the residue to rub off onto my skin and absorb it. Can we say Erin Brockovich moment? #cancersucks When I can buy locally from an organic farm, this is not an issue.
Speaking of local farms (local in Ohio and the US), you get to support myself/your chosen florist as a small business owner and support another small business by sourcing florals locally. COVID has been hard on all of us but especially the farms. They had to find ways to sell their product when weddings and events stopped. As a result of COVID, the farms were throwing out all of the flowers and foliages they spent so much time planning for, cultivating, harvesting, etc. They also couldn’t support their staff as they had in the past, so some farms had to downsize, which then caused issues with having enough help to maintain the plants so they would bloom on schedule, plant new plants/seeds, harvest, etc. As a result, this has created a supply issue as farms are now working extra hard to bring back the same amount of production they were at before COVID. The demand for flowers, however, has not dropped. If anything, it has increased, so making sure our farms have the financial support they need to operate is extremely important. By hiring a designer who supports local flowers first, we can make this happen! Also, the quality of local blooms and foliage is so much better, and we have less impact on the environment because they don’t have to be shipped.
Everything I use to produce a client’s wedding is reusable or biodegradable when it comes to supplies, tools, even rentals. Trays and dishes that hold designs for fireplaces, tall centerpieces, etc., are all taken back after the event is over, washed, and ready to use next time. This process reduces the overall cost to produce events as I don’t have to charge clients for new supplies for every single wedding. Instead, decor items like vases are for rent to clients, which is less, not to mention we are not adding to the disposable plastic crisis we are facing. When I can, I will source supplies and products made of recycled materials. If it is something disposable, I will opt for a biodegradable option first.
I don’t use floral foam. If anything, this is the most widely talked about issue among florists. Floral foam is microplastics compressed into tightly compacted shapes that can absorb water once soaked in a bucket or sink. Floral foam degrades quickly, and every time it is used, all of the particles that come off go into our water supply. Foam is disposed of after the event is over because it is not recyclable, and it does not break down. Recently a new version of the foam was released that claims to be biodegradable. While this may be true, it doesn’t change the ingredients. It is still made of microplastics and adding more plastic to the soil, and eventually, the water supply doesn’t make it sustainable. Again not something I want in my water, not to mention all of the plants and animals who also rely on water to live. Luckily a company called Agra-wool has created a sustainable and biodegradable option of “foam.” The foam ingredients spun wool, basalt, and sucrose are something flowers love! When it breaks down, it adds natural elements found in the earth back in. It is excellent to know that I can use it for hot summer ceremonies and outdoor receptions.
Weddings are about the feel-good, and what better way to walk into your day by spreading love to your community and the big round ball we call home! It does pay in more ways than one to be sustainable, and while you are at it, don’t stop there! Ask other vendors you have hired if they incorporate sustainable practices in their businesses. The conversation is critical here, and if you, as the client, are asking, they will be eager to please!