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Field & Floral | Guest Blog

Why is there a movement for sustainability in floristry?

The international floral industry has one of the largest agricultural carbon footprints. From Dutch hot-houses to jets full of roses sent from Ecuador, unnecessary waste is enormous and ridiculous when considering what is available locally in our beautiful PNW.

Did you know approximately 80% of the flowers sold at grocery stores, florist shops, and online stores are actually grown thousands of miles away, most likely in Colombia, Ecuador, Thailand, or Kenya? The government and industry regulations on chemicals, environmental stewardship, and worker rights in Colombia in particular have historically been a far cry from sustainable. Colombian rose farms are literally draining the surrounding region dry, creating a desert wasteland around the farms as their irrigation systems divert rainfall to rose production. Local communities are left without drinking water. The work at the flower farms is intense, the wages small, and the exposure to toxic chemicals significant. Many that work at these farms develop serious health issues, like blindness!

However there is a positivity, a mountain of courage from the game changers, the innovators, the leaders that challenge other florists to choose local, choose reusable mechanics, choose to eliminate the use of floral foam (tiny plastic particles get into the oceans, and the fish eat it!). There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s so exciting to see! I’m guessing that there are still a lot of people out there that are like I used to be and aren’t aware of what’s really going with these issues. It’s on me and those that do what I do, to gently bring all these years of picking up bits and pieces of information that culminated into me deciding to farm my own flowers for Field + Floral Design, and let others in on it. It takes both sides to make a difference, the grower/designer and the buyer, so it’s about time the buyer gets the full story.

How do I practice sustainability within my business?

Nature is constantly giving, so how can I give back?. I give back by not using floral foam. I give back by using organic methods for growing healthy plants (organic compost, OMRI certified sprays for bug control like neem oil), by gifting old flowers or throwing them in the compost, by practicing no-till methods. Instead of using plastic sleeves I use compostable paper to wrap the flowers with. I try to only use reusable or compostable mechanics. I grow my own flowers, that's the big one!

Learning from past mistakes, and opening our eyes to what’s really going on behind that bouquet you saw at that big box store, is so important.. I’m human and I mess up, but like in Frozen I can keep trying to “do the next right thing”. (Can you tell I’m a Mom?). It’s easy to get a little lost in the shuffle of life and go through the same motions every day. I know it’s difficult for me sometimes. It’s places like Kindred that bring a breath of fresh air and remind me of what my “next right thing” could be. I’m loving the toothpaste tablets, that was my latest decision I’m so proud of!

How can you help?

I’ll keep it simple. Buy local. That’s it! Find your local flower farmer or a florist (if the latter ask for only local flowers), and don’t be afraid to ask if there are chemicals or preservatives used. There is a website called Slow Flowers where you can type in where you live to find a local farm near you! Fight the urge for the quick impulse buy of flowers while you're getting that bag of chips or yogurt, and remember how happy you’d make your local farmer, and your local community that could grow and thrive with your support.

            Shawna Rude, owner of Field + Floral Design

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