Wedding Flowers 101: Sustainable Floristry

​Perfect timing on this Earth Day ​to talk about sustainable floristry! So far in this series, we've talked through developing your vision, outlining your priorities, and setting your budget. Now, you're ready to start shopping for a floral designer! But before you start your search, I wanted to fill you in about sustainable floristry. If you care about where your food comes from, you should care about where your flowers come from. There are so many environmental implications to how flowers are grown, packaged, delivered, and arranged​. 

sustainable floristry in foam-free arrangement with no floral foam

​​No floral foam, no problem. This beautiful centerpiece is made with ​​all ​organically grown flowers from my farm, without using floral foam. Beautiful AND eco-friendly!

​First, let's define what I mean by sustainable floristry. I'm going to borrow the definition of sustainability from sustainable agriculture. Sustainable floristry uses practices and methods that are financially profitable, ecologically sound, and socially supportive. ​Let's talk about each of these in turn. 

​Financial profitabilityWe cannot call any floral practice "sustainable" if the florist cannot make a living or reinvest in their business. This is true for farmers as well. Florists and farmers have to charge enough to make a profit.

Environmentally sound methods: ​There are so many ways in which the floral industry can negatively impact the environment. Here are a ​few of them:

  • ​Importing flowers from ​all over the world​ has a massive carbon footprint. ​About 80% of the flowers sold in the US come from places like Kenya, South Africa, and Holland​.
  • In traditional floriculture, pesticide and fungicide use are rampant​. These chemicals ​​are harmful to humans and the environment at large.
  • Traditional floristry generates a ton of trash, including toxic floral foam. Floral foam ​contains formaldehyde and breaks down into microplastics. There is also a lot of trash generated from floral packaging, like cellophane flower sleeves.
  • The floral industry also pollutes waterways, ​both from floral foam microplastics and agricultural chemicals leaching into watersheds.

Sustainable floristry seeks to reduce our harmful impacts. To do this, we buy​ local and organically grown flowers whenever possible, reduc​e our trash, and eliminat​e floral foam.

Social Sustainability: Flower farm workers in countries without strongly enforced labor laws are often exploited. They may be underpaid, underage, abused, enslaved, exposed to harmful chemicals, or fired for getting pregnant or sick. Unfortunately, none of this is hyperbole or a scare tactic. There are documented cases ​of ​each of these scenarios.

We as florists and consumers ​can choose to source flowers responsibly, particularly with the revitalization of domestic flower farms. We can all ​reduce our risk of buying flowers that were grown by exploited workers and children​. Buying local or American-grown flowers reduces this risk, while also putting money back into our local economies and farming communities.

This week's guide to sustainable floristry has a TON of additional information about ​sustainable floristry. Most people don't know the true cost of ​"cheap flowers," and educating people ​is really important to me.​ ​My background in public health ​research comes in handy here! I've linked to ​research studies on everything from ​pesticides to child labor.  To get all of this great info (and hopefully​ educate others!), just enter your info below so I can send it to you.

​I want ​my clients to have the best flowers money can buy, which means thinking about sustainability. As you shop for a floral designer for your wedding, I would love for you to ask these hard questions. ​​How and where will they source flowers sustainably? Which florists care about ​sustainable floristry, and which ones will just go for the cheapest stems? Are you willing to pay a little bit more for flowers that were produced sustainably?

​I also want to shout out my f​lower pal Tobey Nelson, who has ​been doing ​great ​work ​to raise awareness about these issues within the industry. You can find her on Instagram (@sustainablefloraldesign)​!

Next week we will talk about ways to find an amazing local florist in your area, including sustainable florists. ​If you're ready to​ talk about your wedding now, you can do that here! Happy Earth Day, y'all!

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