Sustainable Practices in the Floral Industry
The floral industry might be all about celebrating nature and its beauty, but cultivating and delivering the blooms comes with a hefty environmental price tag. Considering that the industry is projected to reach $41 Billion globally by 2027, the rising concerns over sustainability are not entirely unfounded.
Interestingly, the floral trade is quite fragmented in the US, where even the biggest names have a mere 5% of the market share. Which means it’s more important than ever for individual small businesses to turn to more sustainable practices. Here are a few steps you can take to make your floral business a little bit more eco-friendly.
1. Choose Local
Overseas transportation of flowers for the US alone is causing hundreds of thousands of metric tons of carbon to be released annually. It’s not just the fuel for the vehicles either, significant amounts of energy are needed to keep the flowers fresh during their journey, which includes constant refrigeration and humidity-control.
To cut back on your carbon footprint and to support local growers and communities, try to incorporate locally sourced flowers that are endemic to your area in your arrangements, and use them in their season. Even partially doing this can make a huge difference.
But there’s a catch: while local is preferable to imported, sometimes the energy required to mimic the natural growing conditions can far exceed the amount that would be needed for the transport. Carefully evaluate your local suppliers’ cultivation practices, as well as their greenhouse, water, and pesticide use to decide which option is more eco-friendly.
2. Spread the Word
You may be an expert in the field, but very few consumers know about the impact the industry has on the environment, so be vocal about your sustainable choices and explain every decision.
It will not only help eco-conscious people find your business more easily, but the knowledge that you provide may convince customers to make better-informed decisions. Consumer demand is a huge driver of change so take advantage of it!
3. Stay Away from Floral Foam
Floral foam is essentially a petroleum-derived, single-use plastic that’s non-biodegradable. When it’s finally disposed of in landfills, it breaks down into microplastics, polluting water sources and posing a threat to the wildlife. It is also a known carcinogen that creates a risk both for the employees in the floral industry and the customers.
There are many alternatives to floral foam: chicken wire, flower frogs (kenzan), moss, wood wool, straw, gravels, floral clay and foliage are some examples. Try to get creative with the nature-friendly options that you have.
4. Minimize Plastic Waste
From cellophane wrappings to spray bottles, polyester ribbons to decorative extras, the plastic waste that your flower shop creates can quickly add up to alarming amounts. Considering that a whopping 91% of all plastics worldwide are not being recycled, there’s a good chance that very few items in your designs will return to nature.
Try to find organic alternatives to your regular supplies. You can use cotton, hemp or silk ribbons to tie bouquets, add on the notes with twine, use paper floral tape, and wrap the arrangements in cloth materials or recycled paper.
5. Reuse Vases
On the topic of cutting back on your plastic waste, you can start using exclusively glass or terracotta containers for your designs. To encourage recycling even more, create a bring-your-own-vase program for your customers and apply a small discount to the arrangement. You can also offer store credits for returned vases which would encourage repeat business from your brand.
You can even thrift shop for vases instead of buying them in bulk; the one-of-a-kind container & arrangement combos can be a great selling point!
6. Offer More Sustainable Options
Though they are beautiful, cut flowers have an incredibly short lifespan once they leave your station.
Incorporating live plants and evergreen arrangements to the selection you offer can be a small step towards going a bit greener, and your more environmentally conscious customers will appreciate it.
Low-maintenance plants like cacti and succulents, as well as terrarium arrangements still make excellent gifts while being sustainable.
7. Compost Your Leftovers
As mentioned earlier, cut flower arrangements become waste in a matter of days. Composting your leftovers, encouraging your customers to do the same in their homes or return their wilted flowers back to you are excellent solutions to minimize the waste.
Since floral materials are already organic, they biodegrade easily, and the compost can later be used as fertilizer to grow even more flowers! You can offer it to your local growers to encourage them to choose natural, eco-friendly products.
8. Be Mindful of Your Waste
The first step to making any change is being aware of the points to improve. As you go about your daily business, be mindful of the waste you are producing. Take a closer look at what goes in your trashcan at the end of the day to see what you throw away a lot, and whether they can be replaced with an eco-friendly alternative.
You can also take a look at your carbon footprint on an individual level. Do you have multiple small deliveries going out several times a day? Do you often make several runs? See if using a larger vehicle and transitioning to a single delivery round per day would work for your business. By doing this you could not only decrease your carbon emissions, but also cut back on your delivery costs.
When choosing a delivery service, ask if they optimize their routes to save time, money and fuel so you make the most out of your delivery runs and do your part in making your industry a little bit more eco-friendly. Here at Metrobi we’re all about efficiency, so we could be just the right solution for your concerns.
Thinking about making all these changes might seem daunting at first, so don’t be discouraged by all the things you should be doing. Finding small, sustainable targets first and gradually building on them will be key to reaching your long-term environmental goals. When it comes to being sustainable, every bit of change counts!