Updated: Feb 22, 2022
Many of us are trying to make the right choices when it comes to protecting our environment, and why should your wedding be any different?
If you are planning your wedding, eco friendly flowers may not have been something that crossed your mind, as a lot of people tend to think of the floristry industry as being pretty kind to our environment. This isn’t the case unfortunately, with around 87% of the flowers used in the UK coming from overseas, grown in vast heated glasshouses with the use of toxic chemicals and then traveling hundreds of miles, the carbon footprint of your flowers can get rather large! Flowers that have travelled a long way also often come wrapped up in cellophane to protect them on their journey. If you buy flowers that are grown on home soil this isn’t usually the case.
What makes a flower sustainable?
This subject is a big one and it’s not black and white, but in a nutshell sustainable flowers are;
* Grown without the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides.
* Not traveling hundreds of miles.
* Packaged without the use of unnecessary plastics.
* Grown by people who are paid a livable wage and are justly treated.
* Not bleached or dyed.
* Not arranged in floral foam.
“The pathway to sustainability is very much a journey and the practices we will recognise as ‘best in class’ in ten years’ time will no doubt be different to now. And this is fine! The critical thing is to embark on the journey and be committed to the core principles of reducing negative impacts and promoting positive impacts. An open-minded approach is important.”
— Dr David Bek, Reader in Sustainable Economies at Coventry University and co-lead on the Sustainable Cut Flowers Project.
Sourcing your Flowers The CO2 emissions of a bouquet of flowers grown in the UK is just 10% that of one using flowers grown overseas. The good news is that there are lots of flower farms across the UK now, from quite large scale to micro farms, and it is a market which is growing fast! Excuse the pun!
There are also plenty of individuals, like myself who grow on a very small scale for their own floral business.
Flowers from the Farm are a network of growers, with over 1000 members and are a brilliant resource when looking for someone who grows flowers near you. So, when choosing your florist, find someone local and find out if they grow their own flowers, or if they usually sourcing their flowers from local growers.
Choosing your Flowers Once you have found a lovely florist who can get some beautiful British blooms for you, you will need to choose flowers that are available in the season that you are getting married. Below is a guide to what is available through the year;
Spring; tulips, daffodils, blossom, peonies, lilac, muscari, ranunculus and forget-me-nots.
Summer; english garden roses, snapdragons, sweet peas, cornflowers, phlox, cosmos, foxgloves, larkspur, lavender, mint and ammi.
Autumn; dahlias, zinnia, japanese anemone, sunflowers, achillea, eryngium and cosmos. Also think seasonal fruits, such as apples and blackberries.
Winter; foliage, hellebores, rosehips, seed heads and naturally dried flowers.
What other materials are being used in your wedding flowers?
Another consideration is the creation and presentation of your floral centre pieces. Some florists will use floral foam in their arrangements; this foam is a single use plastic and can’t be reused.
There are lots of brilliant alternative techniques that can be used to create wonderful floral displays with wire mesh, moss and different types of containers. Your florist can then return to your wedding venue, dismantle these mechanics and reuse them, with the only waste being composted. Even large focal pieces, such as arch ways and wild meadows can be built with these sorts of structures.
Below is a photo of the mechanics of a flower meadow style top table arrangement that I created for a wedding in 2021.
It is pretty common practice for florists to use cellphone around bouquets in order to keep water around stems or just for wrapping. So, if you want to make sure you are doing your best to avoid unnecessary waste, then speak to them about how the bouquets will be presented on delivery and if they have alternatives.
Making my own sustainable choices
Whilst I try to make sustainable choices in my floristry business as much as possible, I haven’t always got it right and do sometimes have to adapt my best made plans. I have committed to not using any floral foam in my work but will sometimes buy wholesale flowers from outside of the UK to top up my supply of British flowers, or if I have a client that has their heart set on colourful blooms but is getting married in winter.
As we all strive to be more eco-friendly, it is about trying to do our best and make the right choices when we can. Things are moving forward in our industry slowly and we could all do with a little nudge in the right direction when it comes to sustainability.