Buy Local Grown Holiday Decorations-Not From The Sunday Papers

As I read the Sunday advertisements yet again this year, all the floral departments of the local big box stores from grocery to department to home stores were filled with great, bargain options.   With the Holidays upon us-of course they are full of holiday flowers,  poinsettias, and wreaths.  With that, I will explain the offerings, the prices, and of course the claims for you to make your own conclusions on the real price of the decorations and if they are really a bargain….and for whom.

Colorful Rose Bunches

 

A local ad for imported roses

Here is a 10 stem bouquet of roses with the certification of Fair Trade Kenya.  First lets understand Fair Trade certifications.   It is not affiliated with government and defined for those South American, African, etc. growers who are acting sustainably in some way whether by labor, environment, or social standards.  This could mean anything from offering child care to recycling of water to a comparable wage.  Most teach/employ disadvantaged communities a skill and support the local labor force with a fair wage.  It sounds wonderful and really is a start to a greener mindset, but… it is the most loosely veiled certification unfortunately, when concerning flowers.   The first thing from this ad of course is, how fair of a wage can a worker make with these roses selling for under $5.00?  After, being grown, flown, and transported to the various US outlets.  The same way discount stores sell Chinese made $1.00 goods?  I leave you to figure that one yourself as it is kind of obvious.  In fact just a few months ago, local African activists burned to the ground a huge SA owned flower farm they said was poisoning their water and ruining their land.  It is said, the grower is pulling out of Africa now.

Beautiful Lilies

 

An imported lily mislabeled

Pictured here is a stem of ‘oriental’ lilies;  however, these are not oriental lilies.  There is no certification stated and the ‘bunch’ size is unclear.  There are three main classifications of lilies imported to the US.

1-Oriental is the top of line-they are typically the largest and come in white, pink, or two tone white & burgundy (Stargazer).  Yellow is the rarest and as so, commands a high price tag, usually $10+ per stem, and mainly from Holland-the most expensive grower of lilies.  3-5 blooms

2- LA lilies which come in many solid colors and a smaller bloom than oriental.  2-4 blooms

3-Asiatic lilies also come in many solid colors and are the smallest of the group. 3-4 blooms

This ad has a photo of one of the most expensive and lilies from Holland, but it is logically impossible to be an oriental variety as advertised.  They are in fact, advertising the small Asiatic lilies from South America in a bunch? Lilies are a single stem, bulb so they take up a bit more space to grow for less flowers .  As for any sustainable certifications, there is none here as with most imported goods.  I am sure the issues with this ad are pretty clear.

Holiday Décor

 

Imported and not very healthy

Here is a multitude of poinsettia options and a balsam wreath.  There are 2 types of poinsettias plants in general circulation.

1-A single plant with a single bloom, which a pot can have 4 or 5 single plants, and can be 10”or 4’tall.

2-A single plant with multi blooms.  These are pinched to create side blooms and traditionally a shorter plant.

There are small local growers, but very few mega, commercial, poinsettia growers in the US; with most being only in the temperate states. With that, nearly all the poinsettias you see here in the states are grown in the Canadian Provinces.  Sadly, they are only plastic sleeved and sent on a bumpy, cold, truck journey from their protected greenhouses.  Which, is why by Dec. 24 they look pretty unhappy in your home and on clearance with curled and wilted leaves. They not only have had a traumatic journey in and out of cold temperatures, but they are lacking the proper care in cold doorways or fruit departments; which ironically emit ethylene gas that further lessens their lives.  Poinsettias are a tropical plant native to Mexico and very fragile creatures-more so than even your favorite houseplant.  When you purchase local grown, you get a healthier plant that will easily last until it’s time to put it in the summer garden.  Plants are a living thing and supposed to live on; when you purchase one you take on the responsibility of the care of this living thing not unlike a pet, and not just a disposable decoration.

Wreaths

Here in the US  approximately 15% of the evergreens are  cut on the West coast and the upper northeast, with the other 85% from Canada.  The wreaths shown here are a single faced, wreath; and little known that they are  made from evergreens cut in October; stacked, and held for trucking in mid November.  Ever notice how they are kind of flat and dry? The month of dry storage does this, and also why they shed so many needles every time you open your door.  There are tree farms just for cutting, but many of the evergreens are cut from virgin forests; something I really don’t want on my conscience or my door no matter how cheap they are.     It’s your choice.

And..Those Little Trees

Every year we see them; the miniature evergreen trees in foiled pots laden with plastic ornaments.   As a certified tree lover, I cringe wishing I could buy them all and take them home.  Most are outdoor varieties and can only withstand a dry and warm house for so long-not unlike the cut live tree in your living room.  To live they need special care to hold them for planting in the Spring.

There also are pallets of Norfolk Island pines in every store from drug to home improvement outlets.  They are temperate house plants native to the Norfolk Islands and landscape trees in Florida where they grow 3 stories high- and not really a true pine tree at all.  They are a very soft hearted plant usually dusted with sparkles and smothered with bows & ornaments on its delicate branches.   These should be purchased as a tropical, houseplant and treated as such.  They are not cold hardy, and will definitely freeze. It always amazes me how tenacious all the houseplants in these outlets try their best to survive.

The Lacy Norfolk

 

If you take a moment to think about the history and quality of all your holiday decorations, you will find some of the little secrets in the trade and mass markets.  The cheap plastic everything sold everywhere actually come at a huge price somewhere.  Imported flowers come with numerous environmental & social issues attached with fancy marketing slogans and misleading information. Stressed plants are doomed the moment they leave the greenhouse and not a good or compassionate bargain.   The stale, dry evergreen wreaths were alive and healthy a month ago and now seem only good for mulch.

Add in that these items are all treated with an assortment of chemicals for all sort of preventive, preserving, pest and disease; then we are all using  our natural resources in a detrimental way.  For sure, these poor communities around the world are glad to have any wage, but so would our own homeless population and farms here.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Fair Trade certification for economically and depressed communities in the US?  That would really attack our unemployment and something to label for.

 I only ask that you think before picking up that bunch of flowers at checkout, or grabbing that wreath while you are buying a drill; or asking just where it came from.  Spend your dollars wisely on quality for yourself and your gift recipients at local venues.  Money talks, it always has.  And we just have to realize that maybe a fresh and beautiful, local grown wreath is not $9.99 and you have a limited budget.  Well, how about making your own decoration then?   It would sure be fresher and more meaningful; and…. I think you would see that $9.99 isn’t near enough what your creation is worth.

think, live, buy local and…green

Lynn 🙂

Sea Shepherd Society & The Seed: A Vegan Experience

While keeping up with two of our favorite benefits-Sea Shepherd of Whale Wars fame and our local Catskill Farm Sanctuary, I came across an event they will be set up (and speaking)  at in New York City on Fathers Day weekend.

 The Seed: A Vegan Experience   says it is “two days of vegan exploration await you. Nourish your taste buds on scrumptious plant-based food from New York’s famed vegan restaurants – the best in the world! Get inspired by world-renowned speakers, champion athletes, and top chefs. Provoke new thoughts withaward-winning films and their directors. Discover the vast market of cruelty-free products and services. And much more. The Seed invites the vegan-curious, vegan-skeptical, and vegan choir to explore what veganism has to offer today. You’ll gain understanding of the endless benefits of a compassionate, healthful, and earth-conscious existence of the vegan lifestyle.”

 How cool does this look!  We will be going of course and will bring back all sort of new ideas for you I am sure.

Now…regarding the Sea Shepherd Society

I am not happy.  Captain Paul Watson of  the Sea Shepherd Society is being held under house arrest in Germany for possible extradition to Costa Rica for his campaign against shark finning.  Another atrocity of the sea world that he bravely and tirelessly fought a decade ago.  Until his release we will be upping the donation of our Sea Shepherd arrangements to 50%.  Please consider this design in our Flowers For A Cause when shopping on our site to send flowers.

Benefit bouquet with bits of the ocean

   A caption of the plea from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society site.  Visit them and read about this absurdity.  Please add your voice..like he does!

Lynn

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

 

Spring Newsletter is Here!

Hi Everyone,

 It is me Willow!  Our new Spring Newsletter is here and Lynn & I filled it with all sort of fun things and tips.   Don’t miss it-click below or at the lower right-make sure you max the screen!.  And….if you love it please tell us!  Go to Tell Us in our About Us catagory !     xxoo    

Newsletter  Spring pg 1

Newsletter Spring  pg 2

Sundance Film Festival & Flowers

 

Every January the Sundance Film Festival is held in Park City, Utah.  In fact, the photo of myself and ‘Hoot’ the owl on the About Us  page was taken there.  It is a melting pot of the newest and brightest short films, documentaries, and motion pictures.  A perfect setting for freethinking, nature,  and the arts.  Utah itself is awe inspiring; a treasure of national parks and wildlands.  Three environmental films up for competition this year to watch for:

Wasteland-a documentary that chronicles a photographer to the world’s largest landfill and the pickers who sift through it; recycling their lives from society’s garbage.   Sounds like a world away from our own kitchen trash bin-lest not we forget that away is somewhere.

Tungijug-a though provoking story on the annual seal hunt .  The Inuit depend on them for food and the rest of the world for cheap fur coats.

Gasland-A relevant film to our local area regarding the push for the natural gas drilling process of ‘fracking’.  A powerful look into the environmental issues involved here in our own Sullivan County, and across the nation.   A lucrative offer to many rural landowners, seems a death sentence to the environment.

This is a fitting month to highlight one of the benefit arrangements in our online shopping section-the EcoShop; under Flowers For A Cause.   These arrangements are specifically designed to reflect the charity foundation they represent, with 20% donated.  Sundance is many things beside the festival; one being the Sundance Preserve.  An environmental foundation promoting preservation of our wildlands.  I have a design which I named the

“River Runs Bowl.”  A rustic beauty I felt depicted its namesake movie, director, and Sundance founder.

River Runs Bowl

Follow the festival and watch some clips of all the films at Sundance Festival