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How kindness, compassion and understanding can play a part in Sustainable Floristry

Let's be honest, we live in a world that has become so accustomed to a consumer-based lifestyle that it is extremely difficult to live a completely eco-friendly life. Our existence as humans leaves a mark on the Earth no matter how lightly we try to tread.

Not to be discouraging though - it's easy enough to make small changes in how we do things and collectively this can add up to significant change. I do believe that most individuals care about the environment and this can be to different degrees and our actions can be expressed in different ways.

In recent years we have begun to look more closely at florists and how we can reduce our impact on the environment. This is a great thing that I'm personally invested in and am happy to support the growth of knowledge surrounding this subject.

What I'm not enjoying though is seeing people shamed, remarked upon and publicly addressed for not being perfect in their practice. Unfortunately it seems to be becoming a common habit for some to elevate themselves by showing others up for not stepping up at a rate that is agreeable to the finger-pointer. I am curious also about the habits of these people in how sustainable their own practice would look if their backstage area was explored.

Noticing this has prompted me to write about realistic and manageable sustainability in floristry, with the hope of prompting some thought and understanding as to why not everyone is immediately changing over to eco friendly techniques in an immediate sense. Let's talk about this.

While it's not so difficult for a new flower business to begin with sustainability in mind (within the limitations of knowledge, education and products available to them), perhaps we can take a moment to consider long-established flower businesses and the real difficulties they may face in changing over to more sustainable systems. Over the last couple of years I have had many chats with fellow florists and suppliers alike and the prevailing feeling seems to be that most of us would genuinely like to operate more sustainably, however there are many humps to get over.

For instance:

Most florists, in reality, are small businesses with bills and staff to pay who must consider what is economically viable for them in order to stay afloat.

An established floral business may have a substantial back stock of things like floral foam, polystyrene, polypropylene wraps, plastic containers, poly ribbons and so on. These are all items that were used very commonly until recently. To dump these is not advisable and on a financial note, replacing them with eco friendly options would incur very high expenses that the business may simply not be able to support.

To go a step further back in the supply chain; for our fresh stock and sundries suppliers to make the change it's the same deal only on a much larger scale, with costs potentially in the millions and tonnes of plastic that would need disposing.

Also, there are many products that florists use that simply do not yet have an equal or affordable eco friendly substitute.

Now, if we look honestly at our own personal lives I doubt any one of us is environmentally perfect, from the clothes we wear to the wrapped food we buy and consume along with a plethora of other factors. We're all learning together to navigate through change, gaining new information and adjusting incrementally along the way.

In being kind, compassionate and supportive towards each other we are stronger and more able to make necessary changes together. I can't think of an instance where dividing and criticising without providing help or support has created positive change on a global scale.

So, what can we do now?

Well, as we know, small changes can add up to big differences.

As florists:

We can encourage our customers to take flowers without floral foam, reduce our use of plastics bit by bit and buy locally grown product whenever possible. These small things are a great start.

We can have understanding and empathy for each other knowing that changes may be incremental while we play the long game of waste reduction.

We can work together in sharing knowledge and information, withholding judgement of others while understanding that each and every one of us is doing our best to get by.

As consumers:

We can kindly request plastic, foam free and local flowers with empathy and understanding for small business owners who are doing their best in challenging times.

To sum it all up; humanity applies to all of us.

For all our flaws we are part of this world together, communities are stronger together and the role we play in environmental preservation is not the sole responsibility of any one of us but something we can work on together as a whole. As a community of flower lovers and florist alike our potential for change is great, if we can do it together.

To our fellow florists: we see you and appreciate the hard work you put in every day, often for love over money to create magic and beauty that helps others to convey emotion. You are doing a great job.

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