Sustainable Flower And Garden Conference

Recently I was one of the guest, keynote speakers at the State University of NY at Farmingdale in Long Island.  It was a conference I was so honored to speak because  I never thought I would see one of its kind on the subject of my passions & work-agriculture that saves the environment and its inhabitants,  local farming, history of flowers, and-my US grown flowers to centerpiece movement.

The event is called The Sustainable Garden Conference which benefits their Sustainable Garden Dept. of Urban Horticulture & Design program; however I saw the real benefit as what it brought to all those attending.    Years ago, colleges had no sustainable programs at all much less on horticulture; you went like me for environmental science and forestry-that was option 1 and 2.  Now there are a whole new group of college curriculum emerging in all fields of sustainability across the country.

The presentations within this conference examined:

  • why locally grown flowers & food fell out of favor
  • why the growth of international flower markets dominate the industry
  • sustainable growing for planet, creatures and people alike
  • what opportunities exist here for local production agriculture.

The array of speakers went from landscape designing with native species, helping our failing pollinators , the local flower movement, non GMO varieties, natural strategies for flower diseases, finding  edible flowers, and myself who examined it all as an ecologist,  floral designer and florist owners point of view .  And… how I started eco-green floristry until now.

How wonderful a day was that for me?  Everything I passion and live for, continually promote and work at, in an all day conference.   I joined up with Cornell U horticultural specialists about helping our bees and butterflies, listened on agricultural chemical use, I molded with local growers and those that want to be, I absorbed intently about historical botanical prints and cooking with flowers (cooking has much mystery for me), and I repaid by giving details of all my transformations and advocacy to a fascinated public.

Lynn Mehl speaking on green floristy

Here I am-telling my story

It’s not every day you get to be amongst a large audience of the same mind and passion, kind of like fans at a Yankee game but deeper.  We ecologists and environmentalists think with our soul, not our pocketbook or for corporate growth.   I am so used to being the lone wolf out, that it nearly overwhelms you with emotion and glee.  I was with my pack.    As I always get at these like minded events; I was smitten, and I was giddy.  So giddy that my notes were useless so I just shuffled them around and went with my heart.  It was a rapt audience.   It kind of put me to mind of a Stephen King novel….there really are others out there ,  believing as I that we can do something to save the world-or at least our part of it. .

I came away with a renewed hope that the planet does have a chance and so do US grown flowers & food if we all give them a chance and patronize them.   Long Island was once one of the growing capitols in the East at the turn of the century, and it has seen resurgence with many new boutique food, flower, and wine growers emerging.  I see it also in NJ and upstate NY in the Catskill/Adirondack region.  I recently acquired (yet another for my collection) an original copy of the American Florist monthly from 1919.  If you could see the lists and adverts for seeds men and growers in the US then; in the 1000’s from Illinois to Minnesota to Virginia to New York.  Where and when did they all fail?  One hundred years and now only 8% of the flowers purchased in this country at any florist, outlet, or store  are US grown.    And I have them.

1919 carnation grower in NY

A carnation grower in 1919 Flatbush NY

 I ask you always to think before you buy and use your dollars to send a corporate message.  I do not want my only choice of banana to be from Costa Rica where they plowed a mile of the rain forest for the crop.   I don’t want my only choice of cooking oil to be from an Indonesian palm oil farm that ousted the last family of orangutans to grow it.  And….  I want my beautiful and aromatic, American Beauty roses; not scentless roses from the southern hemisphere.

Believe,

Lynn :))

Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards-Some Good & Bad Things?

Hi Casey-this one’s for you and California Cut Flower Commission and Debra at Slowflowers!

**Dear friends, A little background on this post.  Martha Stewart has initiated a new program whereby she is giving various US companies an American Made award.  This is a super idea, however there is debate as to her criteria with one of the latest awards given to online startup BloomNation who promote local florists online directly to consumers with a tagline of “American Made”.  The debate stems from the fact of American Made what? There are few to no American grown flowers or products offered by the member florists so Casey Cronquist of the California Cut Flower Commission along with American Grown programs and promoters (me too!) are questioning the decision and her program.  This also opened up discussion on various areas with the industry, problems, and imported flowers in general. I have written an article of what I see and know of the industry and decided to post it on my website to also enlighten my visitors of just what is happening in the industry and to get your thoughts.  CA grown flowers Everything you posted Casey on the CCFC blog has such merit as always-applause 🙂 so you inspired me to take the time out to write and walk the line with you.  As you know, in 2001 I chose to transform my full service florist of then, over 20 years; to strictly US grown product AND to green certify the business.  Was it simple?  Definitely not back then-it was a time consuming fright, and still takes a concerted effort with a continued waiting game for some products.  But I did succeed. I found a half dozen or so who gladly shipped to me for our issue season in NY, winter.  Some may say the carbon footprint is higher to fly in US flowers, but how much-what difference whether you fly them or the wholesale house flies them?  Yes there is a footprint in every action we do every day, so whether imported or American flowers, we all have huge energy footprints in all aspects of life and business which need serious thought.  You pick your battles compensating somewhere else (like the energy it takes for those giant Chinese vases many  designers use to get here) and carbon insets and offsets are always a positive initiative. So in rebuttal-yes, it was possible to be strictly US grown even back then and for me, today it is second nature- and yes the s/h is higher but the quality, longevity, and scent are incomparable. (btw-I will always be thankful to Chad at Eufloria, Gerald at the then Organic Bqt, and Chastity at Mayesh for being the firsts to help me. 🙂    California grown roses I see there are many reasons the flower industry has problems as to why florists/designers hesitate conforming back to American grown.  Florists never had to wonder where their flowers came from, but now it takes a weekly, committed effort which most see as just one more thing to add to their already harried workday and cannot be bothered.  Adding another effort is a big issue in life today as we are all overwhelmed; it is so easy to just go on and turn a blind a eye.  Second, the competition and pressure for lower prices by mega corporations pushing flowers (many had direct flower contracts with various farms-even Whole Foods) is daunting.  They spend millions advertising (dictating) to the consumer what to buy when, and what to pay-whether for a sympathy arrangement or grand scale wedding.   With these corporate intrusions, the internet sites, the lack of expense for wage, chemical, or environmental regulations of foreign growing, a perfect climate, toss in the economy dropping in 08;  it was the perfect storm.   Soon every internet marketer signed up for an affiliate site to sell flowers to be filtered down to florists to fill, big box stepped in the game, and flowers by wire services ran with it all.  Each promoting inexpensive, imported flowers which the farms gladly sold them as it was a money dream come true to them. The exclusivity, local grown, designer arrangements, and beauty of fresh flowers was lost to capitalism. Surprising me after my change; I realized a full service florist on a daily basis does not need 40 (out-of-season) varieties weekly any more than people in the northeast need mangoes in January (you are on point Christina-that is not contributing to any form of sustainability), but what consumers do like is 20-30 of the freshest, seasonal, and most beautiful varieties of US grown flowers available- arranged creatively.  It is all about quality, the design factor, and presentation because after all, that is what a florist does and I feel they need to get back to it.  All customers, inherently do want the best quality product out there and they love creativity as well; my customers would prefer 6 US Eufloria roses over 12 SA Rio roses any day of the week.  If it is US grown-they applaud it, and applaud the store even more for caring to stand up to the system to buy quality for them against a few dollars more profit.  That creates a loyal customer like no other. southamericanglobewithflowers We should also differentiate the impact of studio designers from full service, brick & mortar florists; not by talent J but with usage.  Sites like Etsy & BloomNation are wonderful for giving in-home, solo entrepreneurs exposure without having the expense and responsibility of a storefront.  However, we have to understand that studio designers are not florists in the sense of the word, so are not the weekly, bulk purchasers supporting this multimillion dollar, import industry with the day to day orders.  Hence, the traditional florist being the largest buyer of imported flowers, (through not all fault of their own) are the ones we need to get on track first to initiate the mindset.

Bloomnation-American Made?

I looked into BloomNation at its start-up, and quickly saw it was another avenue the likes of FTD for florists and designers but without the noose as Brooke spoke of-although not without other nooses.  Also to remember, studio designers cannot participate in flowers-by-wire services without a physical storefront so this was huge for them.  In an early interview, one of the founders stated they saw a gap when trying to order flowers (Which-they could have just picked up a phone …) Upon deeper research and with input from a relative florist, they learned of the huge volume of sales and easy commissions the big 3, flowers by wire services and the 1000’s of affiliate sites were generating online from florists, and how both florists and consumers were suffering and more than unhappy with them.   It was, in their eyes, a small but massive, money making niche to fill and the idea was born.  If they continue to do it correctly and keep the fees at minimum, it may just be-but reaching the online public is another battle, as like local florists, they don’t have anywhere near the marketing budget of its entrenched, big competitors.  (Which is where offering American grown flowers is I believe one of the possible keys to saving traditional florists.) However, for this business to be given a MS American Made award (for what Slowflowers, CCFC, and myself for example are truly trying to accomplish and BloomNation is not) seems more than a technicality at best and a huge blunder for MS.  I know my industry and its products; I see the designs on BloomNation and I am also familiar with more than a few of the florists on the site and their product.  With that, I can in a minute-as I am sure you Casey and Debra can determine-the product is nearly all imported.  A few California OV stock & larkspur here, and some SV iris there, but not much more; excepting those florist members of course in CA flower farm areas. BloomNation, is obviously running with the American Made tag as a slippery marketing term and I find it hard to believe that MS advisors would send her their way.   But the flower industry in general is very unclear and even more mysterious to most, even those inside it.  This American made designation most definitely alludes to the flowers used as US grown; but as always it will be left up to the consumer to decipher, and most likely the consumer will fall victim to the confusing insinuation as usually the case.  To give them a benefit of the doubt; this may have not been their original intent (it definitely was not in the business plan I read about)-but this is how many consumers take it-as did MS.  The word American should not have come into the picture, and even a slightly more ethical term would have been “designed by local, American florists”.  But then again, as opposed to who?  Loose flowers packed in SA and shipped?  All florists in the US are both local and American who fill all the online, arranged orders anyway no matter what site an order was placed on, so the point?  The real point is no middle man, affiliate site, or flowers by wire service, which this company should have been seen by MS as just a consumer direct to florist site only; and that they are not the only one out there.

The World Is All Green-Or So They Say

This is the same happening with the terms ‘natural’ ‘fair trade’ ‘green’ ‘eco friendly’ or “sustainable’.  In marketing terms it is called green washing and every big corporation has jumped on the new green bandwagon as they now are attempting with American made.  It is the new gold in marketing-and just another way to get consumers to their brand which they never would have started if it were not the rage.  When we began seeing big energy companies making ‘clean coal’ commercials-I mean seriously now, how ridiculous is that.  Which is why new regulations are pending on many of these ‘eco’ terms including the word organic.  Again, this only confuses the consumer even more than they were and they don’t really know what they are buying.  The same goes with SA flowers and the many original & new ‘certifications’ they have. Who polices them I ask?  I am quite familiar and keep up on these certifications always hoping… (there are a lot) from Flora Verde to Rainforest Alliance and if you read the criteria (Veriflora is one of the most aggressive) you see it is very easy to do very little and be very certified something to put on the label.   But regardless, even the few commercially grown flowers certified USDA organic…are still imported, and this slippery marketing is the same with BloomNation.my grown in the usa pic cropped MS is a huge celebrity, and as many in the green arena complained when Walmart started carrying USDA organic food (from Asia), one has to look at the positive because known businesses & celebrities always give a cause a loud push of awareness.  MS American made awards I agree are a very  ‘good thing’ as she puts it; as are her ‘green’ show episodes and articles-however they are few.   With all her promotion of non earth friendly, imported craft items, out of season recipe ingredients, paints, glues, and the list goes on…it seems just another bandwagon for her to jump on as she does not honestly seem to walk either talk in her company.  (although she appears to live her personal life quite local & healthy) Giving awards like these to companies like this with obvious, little investigation or truism, just turns this ‘good thing’ to detrimental and confusing.  I think MS needs help with this one Kasey. 🙂

US FarmS Lose-SA Farms Win

On another note mentioned here; over these past dozen years I have had quite a few flower representatives from SA call me in response to my activism and writing;  they are very polite, they understand, they applaud my environmental efforts, they even invite me down expenses paid to see all the great things the flower industry does for their people. (which no conversation ever touched at the expense of our American farms which I get the feeling they see insignificant, as we are the ‘land of plenty’ and they do after all, buy our tractors and such?)  I give them all the same response, I am so sorry for their plight but I will not change my position or my mission.  As an environmentalist I feel for them and all the planet and its inhabitants; but the social, environmental, and chemical regulations are not there and even if they were, not at the expense of our own farms.  There are millions of struggling poor businesses and people in the US who need help along with mind you; one of the poorest indigenous races in the world being Native Americans.  As a buy local advocate, stocking imported products to sell local seems redundant.  As an industry advocate, selling imported flowers at the expense of our farms seems redundant.  Many florists advocate and display ‘please buy local’ signs in their windows, while with a cooler full of imported product that was delivered to them from over 50 and more miles away in a refrigerated, Toyota truck.  What’s wrong with this picture? I don’t understand why they don’t understand.

Florists Can HelpThe Change to US Grown And..Sustainable Products

Unfortunately it seems when it comes to profits, trade, and the global economy, there’s no room for activism or to follow a mission. Ask the Chinese; they import next to nothing and export everything…including the flags we so proudly wave at parades.  I say if those in the floral industry want to really make a difference, then take a stance with your passion and walk the talk, make the vow to at least educate and enlighten your customers; give them the facts and the positives to using American grown and the detriments of not.  All flower vendors need to start carrying our premium, US flowers so people can see the quality and longevity for themselves, and more importantly to just enlighten them that flowers are imported!  Wholesale houses will get a florist whatever they want as they want their business, but first the florist must ask for it. I ask all flower vendors to follow and learn from the likes of those as myself and our newest pioneers like Kasey of California Cut Flower Commission, Slowflowers, and Certified American Grown… and then, if we really want to get a crown-we need to lessen the floral foam use as that… is one the most dangerous, toxic nightmares in the industry that has silently slipped through all the cracks of warning, regulation, or recycling…buried in our soil since 1954 and still is.

Ranting through the snow....Lynn 🙂

   

National Parks Poached For The Floral Industry

As an environmentalist and eco florist, it is a 24/7 task of constant research and eye monitoring in all areas of the floral industry.  Just when it seems I have discovered and conquered one issue, 5 others  crop up and side wind me; again making me ashamed of my chosen field that I fight to preserve against all sort of forces; and I love so much.  To me, it must be akin to meeting the love of your life, and then through the years finding they have a double side to them that is dark and dirty, secretive, and just a plain lie. A side that challenges everything you believe in, thought you knew and trusted, and a side that violates you.  It is heartbreaking; and I am ashamed of myself for not investigating further on this suspicion I have harbored for the last 10 years when I was first told that, ” salal is an invasive tree in plentiful supply that grows everywhere out west”.   And I believed them.

This is how I feel this month after reading the Sierra Club’s account of yet another environmental assault because of floristry in the Olympia National Park in Washington state.  Photographer/writer Greg Bleakney* investigated the illegal pillage of millions and millions of tons of salal leaves, moss, bear grass, and conifer branches for the floral trade each year, illegally.  One more secret and heinous act for money.  These 4 products are stocked at every florist in the world, and 4 of my own favorite things to use on a daily basis.  They are highly sought after in Europe (especially by the Dutch designers) and evidently a lucrative, US export legal or illegally taken.  Salal leaf is included in every one of my hand tied bouquets, while bear grass wisps from each design.  The cedar boughs are a sacred aromatic as my must have woodland accent, and the moss is everywhere in my store.  All the evergreens touted “grown on west coast farms” are something I await anxiously each November.

A "licensed" picker of salal

 The center of this pillage is Olympia National Park.  A temperate forest and a jewel of the northwest that is home to a rare eco system of flora and fauna.  It was also the inspiration for the Twilight movies with its misty shrouds, and ancient trees dripping of moss and ferns. A place of wild and wildlife supposedly protected from any attack of human degradation according to the federal government. Along with what I always question as alleged, sustainable harvesting; there is a huge black market to fulfill the demand for 100 million dollars worth of 27 million pounds of salal exported each year.  Money and the environment, the constant war.  According to the expose, the Department of Natural Resources, private landowners and packing houses called brush sheds, issue local permits to legally harvest forest products in certain areas.

The Department however, is severely under manned (due to government cuts or I suspect also turning the blind eye) with only 8 officers to patrol over 5 million acres; doing the best they can.  This poaching is no different from the drug or animal trade, and operates the same.  When one set of poachers is caught, another set moves in.  The thought is I’m sure; with so many acres who cares if some is pillaged and it’s free?  But 27 million pounds is a bit more than ‘some’. That’s how the American buffalo disappeared. Thoughts of my favorite quote emerge; “every day we lose 116 square miles of rainforest, or about an acre a second.  And… how every day we will lose 40-100 species and no one knows if the number is 40 or 100.”**

A park officer surveys the damage of cedar from poachers for the floral trade

Just SW of the park is the Native American reservation of the Quinault tribe that Gregg quoted  reservation, resource protection officer  James Smith who reported  in 2010 the ravaging  of 40-80 acres of bear grass in just one season.   They are now hard pressed to find any quality, grass for even their basket weaving.  In the same year, a hunter came upon poachers who had destroyed two, separate, multi acre stands of trees taking 40,000 lbs of white pine boughs for the holiday wreath trade; leaving bare branches.  All I see in my mind are the massive stacks of bundled wreaths for sale everywhere in November, and now wonder if the trees were raped for our Holiday doors.  Worse, I further wonder if all the wreaths I have sold up to now have been from an honest, sustainable source or were they from an old growth forest.

A moss laden ancient tree is keep secret to keep poachers from finding it.

 And about the moss…When I was a young camper, even then I would always search out the moss beds.  They were soft, warm, and clean being a natural antiseptic.  This affinity for moss is still evident in the store as I use it every day in some design context or display.  Obviously, I am not the only moss lover as the amount taken for the floral trade every year is estimated in the “tens of millions of pounds”.  I am dismayed at the sheer volume of that figure.  We only have 60,000 retail & wholesale florist in the US, so I am assuming another export.  In Olympia it is pulled from the forest floor and stripped from the trees-with the tree bark.  It can’t possibly all be grown on moss farms as I am told-so again I ask myself; where are all these boxes of moss coming from really.  Moss is an ancient and important plant to the eco system, taking years to cover the ground.  As you well know, if you have ever had a shady spot in your yard; a 5 inch clump will take quite a while to grow to 3 ft.  I watch mine patiently.

A few summers ago, I was having a nice conversation with a Florida native about my stance on offering only ‘US grown” products and mentioned that my cut ferns are grown there.  He asked which farms they were grown on and when I asked why, he hesitated but told me he had worked around many of those farms.  After an awkward silence, he informed me that not all the ferns packaged in FLA boxes are created equal and they are actually supplementing their crops with South American grown and…. repackaging them in Florida.  He was a truck driver who delivered fresh products from the Miami airport.  That airport is the main eastern hub for imported flowers and plants from South America, and that’s exactly where these shipments were from.  I thanked this man for his time and conversation and walked away both deflated and elated that I had yet uncovered another secret.

You can learn so much by talking with people, asking questions, and reading even the most unlikely publications.  The Sierra Club is known for its environmental mindset so I read it faithfully; John Muir’s writings have always inspired me.  However, when I read this month’s issue, little did I know I would find anything related to the floral industry,  nor chatting with a man who I seemingly had nothing in common with, but yet who brought information unknown and so important to me.  I encourage, no I implore you to ask where your floral and plant purchases are from and who grew them.  85% of all flowers are grown outside the US while most of the houseplants come over the border from Canada.  Bryan Adams is a super guy, and I adore Celine Dion, but I wish the Canadians would keep their plants for their own-the journey here kills one third of them, and the rest succumb to big box neglect.

 I will again be sharpening my microscope to the chain of product in the store from now on and I will never assume anything again.  A mantra my Mother forever quotes; and another example of who to listen to and who not to.

Forever thinking of the trees,

Lynn

Always I thank the SierraClub.org

and

**my praise to photographer/writer Greg Bleakney   gbleakney.com

*** my admiration to David Orr professor of environmental studies Oberlin College….who wrote that 17 years ago, I can't imagine the tally now

For Earth Day

This weekend is Earth Day; one of the most revered of days for anyone of clue and conscience.   Most think of it as just another day for the likes of tree huggers and old Woodstock goers; thinking it started with them, but it did not.

Our planet has supported its inhabitants in every way possible for millions of years; without its resources we would not be here at this very moment.  From the water to the trees to the soil and the bees …..there is no other entity that is more important to our existence; it is our friend, our enjoyment, our protector, and our life giver. So many scoff and so many more ignore; but it is an indisputable fact; we cannot survive without it, and if it is injured and sickened so will we be.  Just as you would protect and care for your loved ones, so should you the planet.

What seemed to me... a cathedral in Utah

I so often wonder how humans can be so selfishly blind as to take so much from something so giving and treat it with such disrespect and unconcern.  It is used and used and given back nothing; not even a considerate thought.  I urge you to sit for a moment wherever you are and take in any scene-your home, your business, your backyard, or your bedroom.    Any object you see has been enabled because of the planet.  Whether furniture, computer, your lunch, your clothes, your pool, or the scene out the window.  None of those things are possible without the help of the planet and its resources.  Think about that, I implore you to really think about it.

Imagine the impact if on this one day we all planted a tree, or we all did not cut a tree.  Imagine if we all unplugged our cell chargers from the outlet for just one day, or if we did not let the water run as we all brushed our teeth tonight.  Imagine if the cruise ships did not dump their waste in the ocean on just that day.

 Earth Day is just a single day of your life, once a year, to stop and thank this planet for everything it has done and struggles to still give us.   Are we not taught to thank when given a gift? And aren’t we ever so grateful for help with no strings?

There are a multitude of large and small things we can do in thanks, look around you and it will become clear…crystal.

            Five Easy Earth Day Thank You's 

Turn off your car at a drive-thru

Creatively reuse something-at least once

Lower your thermostat 5 degrees

Buy one local (or at least US) grown product at the grocery

Flip your paper in the printer

Recycle your Sunday paper

 Look out the window, promise to do better and, say “thank you”.

 A simple quote from one of histories most famous environmentalists and my favorite mentor.

"When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe."  John Muir 1869

Seeing what John Muir saw

A New Green Idea For St. Patrick’s Day

Willow and I had a big weekend last, attending the Northeast Floral Expo in Massachusetts.  A conference/show of, and for florists in the Northeastern states and beyond. complete with a buyers fair of all sort of goods and flowers.   I believe it has become the largest show in the country for florists, and we so look forward to the 3 day weekend every year.  I am forever keen to find any new earth wise products  that maybe could be converted as so; and I get double excited to meet the many other designers to compare notes on the newest trends; trade ideas, and of course professing our passion of the art to each other.  However, as the eco florist…..the only eco florist mind you; I look at things differently and likewise, I am usually treated differently.

A Green Greyhound Celebrity

From the time we arrived, Willow had the red carpet as the main celebrity of the entire floral industry in attendance.  I was really surprised and happily, shocked at how well known she is and how followed her blog Willow Says  is; and boy, she took it and ran with it!  Pets and pats were everywhere, paws were given nonstop, and the ‘thump thump’ of her tail was incessant.  She was photographed and talked about, flirted with and fawned over.  She for sure is my heartsong and I was so proud of her ‘princess’ behavior as the ‘real’ owner of the store.  J

An Erin Brokovich Green Florist

On the other hand, I was also taken aback at my own notoriety.   Inwardly, I always feel and fear, that I am the lone warrior in an unconquerable frontier; and at times I wonder if all my effort and passion of the past 10 years and still ongoing will ever matter to the 30,000 florists across the country, or are they just tolerating the ideas in a passing conversation.  And more so, do I really have a chance against the big corporations of my industry.

 Well, let me tell you, I can’t believe the people whom I’ve never met inquiring on my endeavor.  “Oh, you are the one”, “I heard about you”, “it’s wonderful what you are doing”.   What really made me happy though, were those who really and truly wanted to learn how to be a green florist!   A genuine interest with 20 questions; can you find enough US growers, what do you do about preservatives, how do you handle weddings, and on and on and on.  I can’t tell you how good it felt that I was an influence.    The interest was not only doing for the environment, but for our industry, and small businesses everywhere.  My rants are heard of, and my efforts are evidently known.  Who knew?

A Green & Recycled Centerpiece?

At the Saturday night gala, kindred designer Keith White and I (he is a FTD design coordinator-such a talented designer and cool guy) sat looking at the galaxy themed centerpieces; inside a 3 ft. cylinder vase was a silver, dryer vent, hose all curvy and wild.  We agreed “wow that is creative recycling”; until we concluded that the only place they would have found enough hoses to create all the centerpieces so quickly, would have been at Home Depot.  We concurred that it is a start, and next time maybe they would instead be from the dumpster.

Green Floral Products

On Sunday, I eventually came upon as I always do, to the dreaded….’floral foam booth”.  Always positive and hopeful for new corporate ethics and some environmentally minded changes; I enter smiling and gracious.  Unfortunately, as is also the norm, the reps demeanor quickly alters at my inquiries of “are there any new developments toward a non toxic foam; has the company started a reclamation or recycling effort yet, etc.,” and was met with a stern invitation to just leave the booth and be on my way.  I tried, and will keep on trying.

It is not the easiest doing what I am doing, to see differently and not be a lemming following the crowd.  But after a time like anything, once you do it a while- it becomes a way of life. Because it is such a change from the norm; there are many who just look at me incredulously and move on. (I label them brown) And then there are those who are sincere and agreeing, yet knowing they are mired so deep, it seems just too daunting. (I label them light green)  One such interested gentleman from a wholesale flower and hard goods company said he understood.  He believed in America, didn’t quite think much about the environment in relationship to his products, but would like if he could, to be a more sustainable business.   But I could see he just did not have the energy and drive enough to tackle it.  It’s the easier road being brown; not green.

Norman Rockwell‘s Green Picture

As Willow and I were packing up at the end, I looked across at the trucks being loaded from the show.    An Isuzu box truck had the tag line of “floral importers and distributors”;   and in the back window hung an American flag.  I stopped for a minute and thought, “isn’t that something-what’s wrong with this picture”.   An American flag in a Japanese truck filled with South American flowers and Chinese vases, idling diesel fumes.

 I thought about that parking lot picture all the way home as I drove ironically, through Normal Rockwell country, and it convinced me that I can never give up.  It is a difficult and ongoing task I took on for sure, but I am tenacious.   I just need to fight a little harder and rant a lot louder in the hope that someday everyone will see the real picture, like we saw in the parking lot.

Think as green as you can, no matter the shade.

Our new Tussie Mussie..green for St. Pat's and green for the environment

  Lynn  

Robert Redford Speaks Real….as always

Second to my Mom; one of my favorite mentors and inspiration-he always speaks real.  I learned from them both to stand up on what I see and walk the talk......

 Click to watch 

  Thanks Bob, Lynn  

It’s Sundance Film Festival Time

As many of you know I am a Sundance Festival fan-I love indie films, the Sundance Institute, and Utah.  This year it runs Jan. 20- 30th with again a roster of the newest and brightest films and documentaries.   I always look forward to the new environmental movies, and this year there are again two big hits of major controversy. In the past we saw “The Cove”, the daring expose on the yearly, mass, dolphin killing in Japan which has stopped since the film came out-yay!   "Gasland", the thought provoking inside look at the fracking issue which is debating as we speak right in our own backyard.  And of course "FUEL"-the eye opening saga of our oil addiction and all that is behind it. Watch the trailers for two new eco films this year: Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness”  A docu-drama about the massive devastation of thestrip mining of  Lost Mtn. in Kentucky.  So far 500 Appalachian mountains, 1 million acres of forest, and 200 miles of streams have been ruined and destroyed.   Every night we here in NY turn on our lights-it began in Kentucky-something to think about. The second;  “If A Tree Falls".   A film focusing on the Earth Liberation Front-known as ELF; and one activist charged with eco-terrorism.   A thought provoking and debatable film, but a film of great heart providing a different look at the lengths a true environmentalist will go to save the planet. Go to the Sundance Festival site to see the entire line-up of films in all categories. Enjoy,  Lynn