Sustainable is the hottest word in floristry, but is its overuse diluting its significance?
A recent 2022 survey by Deloitte found that consumers who engage in sustainable practices rank the following actions among the highest priority; limiting the use of single-use plastic, and choosing brands that have environmentally sustainable values or practices.
In fact, 64% want businesses to help them adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, with the biggest ask being for better schemes to remove plastics & packaging.
It is clear that the expectation on businesses is growing, and while some are doing an amazing job, others are only just starting their journey, or not participating at all. So as a customer looking to support businesses that suit your values, how do you know just where in that journey they are at, and just how sustainable a businesses really is?
Transparency is key
When looking at the use of the word sustainability in our industry, it’s clear that it covers a whole range of meanings and practices for different businesses. For some, eliminating the use of the microplastic known as floral foam qualifies as being ‘green’, whilst for others, offering products that last forever – such as artificially preserved flowers – makes sense from their viewpoint as meeting the expectations of an environmentally friendly business.
The trouble with these two scenarios is that this doesn’t consider the business as a whole (looking at all the practices, not just the elimination of one waste product), or, it doesn’t consider the end life of the product – which in the case of preserved flowers is only landfill.
It may be unintentional for some businesses to promote themselves as responsible – even when they are not – due to lack of information and awareness. But the result is the same; confusion, misinformation, and a “greenwashed” version of the truth for customers. This makes shopping for flowers sustainably very difficult.
Customers know that brands want to appear as being ethical and sustainable, and they know that this kind of misinformation exists. What makes it difficult for our industry is the perception that flowers are already natural and environmentally friendly, which is not always the case.
What you can do
There are a growing number of awareness campaigns about the pitfalls within floristry in regards to the amount of waste produced and the chemicals used. This is amazing news for customers, making it easier to be educated about what’s sustainable and what isn’t, and to find a true sustainable alternative.
If you are unsure, and want to know that your floral purchase aligns with your values, here’s what you can do –
- Ask for locally grown.
- Ask for plain brown paper wrapping & no “wet pack” (the plastic bag on the stems).
- Avoid imported flowers which carry a large carbon footprint and are chemically treated.
- Avoid floral foam – a microplastic that contaminates the environment.
- Avoid flowers that seem way too cheap – staff wages in floristry are already extremely low, and unethical, off-the-books, cash payments are a common practice.
We take sustainability seriously
For us, sustainability means taking every possible step to ensure the lightest impact on the environment. We could not comfortably place the label on our business if only half-measures or selective changes were made.
This means eliminating unnecessary waste, recycling & composting, paying employees a fair wage, giving back a portion of profit to environmental causes, and stocking gifts from business that share our strong views.
If you are interested in learning more about this, or are a florist looking for ways to create meaningful changes to your business, we highly recommend taking a look at the below resources to gain a better understanding of this key issue:
Slow Flowers: You know slow food but have you heard of slow flowers?
Flowers Magazine: Floral Foam – The Impact on our Environment
Invasive Species Council – The Ugly Side of Flowers
Plastic, Pesticides & Carbon Miles – What Sustainable Shoppers Should Avoid
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