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Nothing brightens up a day, or an event space, like beautiful floral. But does a rose by any name smell just as sweet? Not necessarily! In this blog post we share tips on how to buy better event florals.
Live and Reusable?
While everyone loves the bright splash of cut flowers, live arrangements can be just as appealing, while also being reusable. And keep their fresh appearance. Consider terrarium centrepieces, a forest of evergreens or live herbs.
Don’t forget about your floral containers! Event flowers sometimes come in plastic, cheap containers, assuming the vases will be discarded after use. But they don’t have to be! Ask if your florist will take-back containers for reuse. Or at a minimum, ensure they are recyclable. This is where it can pay to avoid materials like florist foam, which is not recyclable.
If you’re using an in-house florist at a large convention facility, ask if they offer a shared floral program. This type of program encourages event planners to share arrangements at a discounted price, renting them for multiple events, in effect.
Whether it be tulips in spring, sunflowers in summer, ‘mums in autumn or berries and evergreens in winter, going with in-season flowers can present cost advantages. If grown outdoors and made available locally, it also makes sense from a climate perspective, helping lower your event carbon footprint.
Want to connect your attendees with the host destination? Pick out something that is local, and forgo the air-freighted flowers. The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers can connect you to local growers within North America. Alternatively, reach out to local farm market associations to find growers in your region that can supply your event. One caution: just because a flower is local does not mean it is low-footprint. Check to see if your local florals are field or outdoor grown, or greenhouse grown. Greenhouse grown florals can have a high energy and carbon footprint.
We’ve talked about slow events and slow food on EMB before – so why not think slow flowers? This idea is similar to local, but also supports the idea of growing blooms in ways that keep with the local eco-system and possibly supporting small-scale growers. Think of it like seasonal, local and artisan combined! In the USA, check out Slow Flowers.
If you’re looking to ensure your florals promote environmental and human health through reduced use of chemicals, ask for organic. There are a variety of standards to look for, including USDA Organic. Other certifications that include chemical use reduction and avoidance include Veriflora, Rainforest Alliance, and many of the fairly traded certifications mentioned below.
You can search for organic flowers through Local Harvest as well.
If you have to buy event florals, why not tie your arrangement into a special cause? Some florists may offer arrangements that contribute a donation to an important cause, depending on what you order. For example, daffodil arrangements during cancer awareness month.
Some blooms can look very exotic, but are they legal? Asking for non-endangered floral means avoiding any plants that have been listed as at risk of extinction. In a practical sense, this means avoiding any plant material that might be listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or your national endangered species legislation (i.e. US Endangered Species Act).
Types, colours, timing and number of florals can have loaded meanings in certain cultures. So be respectful. Ask your local florist if there are any cultural sensitivities you should be aware of that ensures you order appropriately. Also consider that respect may include proper disposal of greens or blooms viewed as sacred by indigenous cultures (such as cedar for First Nations in Western North America).
You’ve likely heard of fairly traded coffee, but what about fairly traded flowers? Many people don’t realise that similar issues affect both crops, and that those who harvest flowers may be vulnerable to exploitation. This is a particular concern as the floral industry globalizes. For example, in North America 64% of flowers are imported from South America, primarily Colombia and Ecuador, while 21% of flowers sold in the European Union come from Kenya, Columbia, Ecuador and Ethiopia. Programs such as Fair Flowers Fair Plants, Florverde , and FLOCert help provide a degree of reassurance flowers have been bought with an eye for providing better working conditions.
In addition to buying better flowers, you can also be more sustainable by responsibly disposing of florals after their useful life. This is where many event planners enjoy playing gift-giver, by donating their left over florals to charity. Some cities, like Palm Beach and Seattle, have established turn-key solutions for floral donation. But any destination can usually provide contacts for nursing homes, hospitals or other organizations that are glad to receive florals.
From birthdays to weddings and galas to conventions: florals are a staple of everyday to uncommon events. By being beautiful and sustainable, your florals can make a bold and mindful statement. We invite you to inspire others with your examples of best sustainable event floral in the comments below.