So….just what is this ‘EcoFlorist I have created?
Change # 1 The Product
I offer only North American grown flowers as it is estimated that 90% of the flowers you buy in any retail establishment are imported. American grown flowers far surpass with quality, fragrance, and longevity; eco-organic, hydroponic, and biodiverse. All sustainable, all costing no more than any fine grade flower, and all supporting American farms.
Fortunately, we have a few other, eco minded pioneers who have, and continue to push many of the large foreign growers to allot areas for green and organic growing. However, it is not cost effective to not use chemicals and pay below minimum wage and there is still the energy and fuel to ship them here and… the side stepping of our American farms. Environmentally minded farms in the US offer a safer product and work setting, while giving a fair wage & benefits to its workers. It is a win-win situation for us all to patronize them.
Flowers grown in North America & Holland unfortunately are at times, still grown with the support of some chemicals. Not so much to the extent of the imports due to unionization in Holland and stricter safety regulations in North America, but many are changing over to eco growing practices such as natural pest management. Even so, Holland flowers are a preferable choice when eco-organics and US grown are not.
We love the exotic varieties grown in faraway places as much as you do, but feel that is where they should stay until their growing and humanitarian practices improve. Many exotics are now being grown in CA and available most of the year. During the various growing Seasons; as an eco florist, we patronize the many local farms and green markets in our own state, which are a wonderful source of native species plants & flowers. They are forever grateful.
Change # 2 The Chemicals
As an eco florist, I also do not use the various preservatives and enhancement chemicals prescribed to florists by our industry. These sprays & additives promise to prolong, hold up, sterilize vases, and protect from elements. It is nothing more than “innovations” created for profit not for you or the Earth. The preservatives in their little plastic packages were originally created to prolong the flowers arranged in soaked foam for the new, busy, lifestyle of 1950’s consumers. Meaning-the lack of just changing the water. If you want to keep them fresh-just change the water every other day.
Change # 3 The Giftware
Beside the various plastics & foams, we are also engulfed in Third World and Asian imports. They not only dominate our industry, but also have completely taken over from North American manufacturing companies. Nearly every product in any type of store today is imported, and a traditional florist is no exception. All of the baskets, ceramic dishes-bowls-pottery, ribbons, candles, stuffed animals, novelty & keepsake containers, and so much more-are all imported.
One-of-a-kind, found in thrift stores, charitable organizations, or auctions. They are either US made, recycled through our Recycle Rewards Program, new/old purchased from outgoing businesses, or vintage. In addition, we offer biodegradable containers made of rice & cornhusks-with the look of quality resin/plastic. We use minimal plastic anything, unless it is recycled or reused through one of our programs. Even the smallest of changes can be huge; like our simple ban on the plastic cardholders florists have used for years-we instead love attaching them to a branch or flower stem. **See also about Balloons below and Nationally Promoted Containers
Change # 4 The Packaging
Packaging can incur a waste second only to junk mail. Every single shipping box, paper, peanut is reused for our own shipping and floral packaging. I replaced the much-used cellophane with a compostable, cello look-alike, and our tissue & bags are all made of recycled content. I also offer return of our gift/rose/corsage boxes in our Recycle Rewards Program.
Change # 5 The Backroom
As an eco florist, I use many sustainable business practices including: using recycled content papers for our stationary, business forms, and eco friendly cleaning & janitorial supplies. Something as simple as double sided fax-printing can save a multitude of trees, while saving rubber bands and reusing them, can stop tons from the landfill. We patronize green-minded companies as available for our telephone, credit card processing, web hosting, banking, and other services to further the chain.
Change # 6 The Natural Resources
The water and energy used for our heat, electricity, cooler, and deliveries, is compensated with our partnership to various organizations such as NativeEnergy.com; purchasing carbon offsets for our usage, and funding wind turbines on Native American Reservations and needy communities.
The water usage in a florist is similar to a family of four; just by reusing our flower bucket water for garden/plants, we are saving 1000’s of gallons a year. All of these practices definitely take an extra effort-but in our mind, we cannot consciously conduct business any other way….giving back
Change # 7 Donate
A very, very, important aspic of any business is its community activism and charitable contributions. We give away 100’s of eco roses to promote the awareness of ecology and chemical free living. We also return a percentage of our sales back to over 30 environmental & wildlife organizations, promote our Flowers For A Cause for a multitude of charities, showcase Really Cool local and Native Made items, and have a Fundraising Partnership Program, which allows us no refusals for any donation.
Change # 8 Flowers-By-Wire
I have had to weigh in on certain practices with the pros & cons to our philosophies. We are one of the only industries with the ability to send a same day gift within hours.
Contractual obligations with the major flower-by-wire services has evolved to seem a necessary aspect of a florist. Consumers make it so by ordering from them online, which in turn forces florists to participate and carry a certain amount of their promoted containers (imported containers don’t forget).
To take away a major service that is utilized by so many along with the opportunity to generate more revenue for our charities; would have seemed detrimental. However, I have discontinued membership with them all. I am instead a member of a small florist to florist network for out of area orders or choose to search out a real, local florist for you. This is both a business and ecological decision I have made in just one of the complicated aspects of my industry, and working on even more alternatives. However, you the consumer is who keeps these 1-800’s in business and who also is paying dearly for it. We recommend ordering from a local florists website or better yet… a return to the old fashioned order method… of the telephone.
I would hope in the future these organizations will alter their products & practices to a greener and more honest end, and start at the very least, to offer American made containers and a ‘real’ customer service line; but it is all about making money and nothing else.
Change # 9 Balloons
There a few customary product offerings in our industry that are debatable if of an eco mind-balloons are one of them. They have been banned in several states and even more hospitals. They are not biodegradable, nor produced in an earth friendly manor and we are tapping out our helium supply. Mylar balloons conduct electricity and rubber balloons are not rubber. I accept them on recycle (yes they are refillable which no one wants you to know) to use for special requests, such as the birthday occasion; where I understand they are a time honored and festive tradition. However, so was the circus…but it doesn’t mean it is a good tradition so I downplay their importance and viability.
These changes are just a few of the main aspects of my Eco florist. Everyday is an opportunity to find another change and believe me I look at everything. Visit the Green Floristry page for more…