As someone who currently works in the flower business, I see first-hand the amount of waste that is produced on a daily basis, even in a small shop such as ours. While I do see glimmers of pseudo-sustainability here and there, they are few and far between.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of options for a store located in northern Zone 4, since most of our product has to be shipped from far away (Columbia, Ecuador, Holland, Florida, California, Hawaii, etc) before it reaches us. We’re not talking just gas emissions but the energy used towards keeping the flowers cool in transit, not to mention the packaging materials themselves. The folks over at Gorgeous and Green, based in the flower friendly climate of Berkeley, have some great tips on ways for a flower shop to be sustainable and green:
* Support local vendors and farms
* Support independently owned businesses and artists
* Offer vintage and recycled containers
* Use and sell live plants
* Offer organic and Veriflora flowers and plants
* Avoid pesticides and chemicals
* Avoid floral foam and plastics
* Use recycled and biodegradable materials
* Recycle and compost all waste
* Donate used floral décor to local non-profits and elder care facilities
* Drive high gas mileage and recycled biodiesel vehicles
* Donate a portion of proceeds to local urban gardening projects
From the above list, the only items we seem to be doing already are selling live plants (many of which we start in our own greenhouse), supporting local indie businesses, donating used flowers to elder care facilities and donating product (not proceeds) to local projects and fundraisers. We do use biodegradable ribbon made from wood pulp and our past-prime roses are disassembled for use as rose petals (which is a fairly standard procedure in the industry). And while we reuse containers as much as possible, I’m sure our vases are mostly purchases in bulk, as is the case with most of our gift-ware.
I love the idea of converting our delivery vehicles to high gas mileage or biodiesel (since being located in a mostly rural area forces our drivers to travel a good distance on a daily basis), but that seems like too major of an expense to expect a small company to undertake all at once. The actions I see as being most feasible for us to start with would be supporting local farms (assuming there are any), avoiding floral foam and plastics (and using recycled packaging materials) and using organic flowers…which would result in us being able to compost a good portion of our waste.
More research is definitely called for, so let’s call this a work in progress on my part. Any other ideas on ways to go green in the floral biz?
Yellow Narcissus bridal bouquet from The French Bouquet Tulsa